Team Stories: Tom Shephard, Software Engineer

Team Stories: Tom Shephard, Software Engineer


11 April 2023 - 5 min read

Team Stories: Tom Shephard, Software Engineer

What was your background before joining Audacia? 

I’ve been with Audacia for nearly two years, joining through the Academy in 2021. Like many people, I had finished University without a clear idea of what career I wanted to pursue. After graduating with a Biology degree, I went travelling before securing a role in the travel industry.

When I was furloughed during the pandemic, I had the chance to reevaluate my current position and consider what I enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed applying the MS Excel skills acquired through my degree to automate and improve the efficiency and reliability of the existing processes and systems. 

I began using the lockdown period to retrain myself in languages such as HTML/CSS and JavaScript in an attempt to begin a career in the tech industry. I knew this would be difficult as I was no longer eligible for many graduate schemes and did not have direct experience working in software.

After trawling through numerous careers sites, I found the Audacia Academy, which gives people the opportunity to start a career in tech, regardless of their experience, age or background. 

What does your day to day look like?

After completing the Academy I joined TechOps — the team responsible for the management and support of live projects within Audacia. 

Working in TechOps exposed me to a wide range of systems and technologies. My days would primarily consist of responding to support tickets about bugs, data fixes, performance and other areas, running their systems locally and then diagnosing and fixing the issues that were raised.

As part of this responsibility, I would become acquainted with whatever technology a system was built with. This included both old and new versions of Angular, Vue, Entity Framework, Entity Framework Core and MVC applications. I would also use SQL Server Management Studio and SQL to query and amend data in their databases.

Alongside my development responsibilities, I actively participated in diagnosing and addressing deployment, release, and hosting issues for the projects utilising Azure DevOps and tools like Application Insights. I was also involved in scoping, estimating and quoting new work for clients that wanted work doing but did not require a dedicated development team. 

What projects have you worked on?

Starting my career in TechOps has given me experience across a lot of different organisations and industries. This ranged from construction, working with two of the UK’s leading house builders on projects including a product database and a kitchen visualiser, to healthcare, where I’ve been involved with improving accessibility for a platform that manages funding for research projects. 

This experience opened my eyes to the challenges inaccessible web design can introduce and drove me to want to share this learning with the wider company. Audacia provided me with the opportunity to draft the company’s accessible web development standards after expressing my passion in this area; these standards are now live and used across the company.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to join the team working on a long standing Audacia project with one of the world’s largest agricultural organisations. Here I’ve enjoyed developing larger, more complex features and bringing my experiences from the wide range of systems I was exposed to in TechOps.

What is the culture like at Audacia?

The culture at Audacia is amazing. As Audacia has grown they have managed to keep the more personal, collaborative feel of a start-up, whilst also exposing you to the brilliant opportunities, benefits and job security of a larger organisation.

There are Teams channels to put forward proposals, ask for support or just discuss shared interests and regular company events such as the summer BBQ and Christmas party. Crucially, these proposals and feedback are actually acknowledged, discussed publicly and actioned. 

There are also various committees in place depending on your interests. As a member of the CSR committee, which focuses on corporate social responsibility initiatives, I was able to propose and help set up the option of a company flu vaccine for all employees.

The people at Audacia are fantastic and a significant element of the positive company culture; there’s a real sense of an inclusive community. It’s great to have the option of working from home, but the positive office environment encourages me to come into the office as much as possible. 

How have you progressed in your role?

The Academy and my experience since has enabled me to go from minimal technical skills to being confident working independently on features across a wide range of technologies and programming languages. 

Audacia also has a number of processes in place to support people in their personal development. During the Academy, everyone had a mentor who we could speak with about our progress and reach out to with any questions we had. 

Today I have a career manager — a senior Audacia employee who is able to provide guidance, support and answer any questions you might have. Ultimately you can use sessions with your career manager as much or as little as you like; I’ve found them really beneficial as I’ve matured in my career after the Academy. 

What do you enjoy the most about working at Audacia?

I’ve finally found a career I enjoy and want to grow in. There are not many organisations out there offering an opportunity for people who are looking to retrain and take a new direction regardless of current experience. I feel very fortunate to have found Audacia and been given the chance to start my career in tech. 

Audacia is a leading software development company based in the UK, with headquarters in Leeds. Find out more about what it's like to work here and our current open vacancies on our careers site.

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