How We Can Relate Technology To Business Problems (with Sarah Saunders from Capgemini)

Jonathon Wright is joined by Sarah Saunders, a Senior Developer at Capgemini. She designs and builds performant, maintainable, cloud-native distributed systems in Java and C# with a DevOps mindset. She worked at all levels of the technology stack from shell scripting to agile coaching. Interested technologist, she enjoys staying abreast of current trends. Listen to learn how we can relate technology to the business problems.

Interview Highlights:

  • Sarah started her journey into computing. She always liked science and she went to an all girls school. She took a computer science degree, and then graduated around 2000. [0:44]
  • Sarah worked at the bank for seven years taking content management type roles. They built their customers custom portals and custom publishing tools, so they could get their content out to their clients [1:51]

“Every different project has a different environment, different technologies, different problems. So it enabled me to build up a fantastic sort of holistic view of how technology works. — Sarah Saunders

  • Sarah was encouraged by Andrew from ThoughtWorks to do public speaking. She submitted this idea that she had about technical archeology, the history of software architecture at a conference in London. Since then, she’s been chatting about different things and she’s done a few talks on different subjects. [4:23]
  • Capgemini has monthly tech talks where anyone can just come and talk about whatever they’re doing or whatever they think is the next big thing. They had some really great talks about things like AI and blockchain, but also more kind of down-to-earth application, modernization type talks. [8:19]
  • They also have an internal software craftsmanship course, because they really believe in this kind of software engineering culture. [8:37]

“Find people who have a similar mindset to ourselves, people who are genuinely interested in the technology side, who aren’t joining a consultancy to manage people that are joining because of the range of problems, and who aren’t afraid to fail. — Sarah Saunders

  • They devised this concept of software craftsmanship focusing on pair programming, test-driven development, the agile manifesto, design and modeling Simon Brown C4 model, abstracting away from UML. [9:29]
  • A lot of their engineers wanted to advance. They want to be promoted and be recognized, but they don’t want to go the typical kind of leadership route of having to take on management responsibilities, sort of HR problems, project problems. They want to be recognized for their engineering skills. [12:32]
  • Sarah’s husband is a psychologist and it drives him mad whenever they kind of play around with things like Myers-Briggs. [14:31]
  • Every year they run an internal unconference. They ran it virtually last year, just using teams, virtual meetings, but it is getting harder and harder to think of something fresh that can be done virtually. Some of the projects that Sarah has been on were the weekly meetings, the water cooler, the tea break meeting. [20:14]

“If you meet someone that isn’t in your domain, just a couple of minutes talking to them can completely dig your mindset. — Sarah Saunders

  • The more open source contributions that you make, the more green your guitar profile grows, the more valuable you are on the market. That in a way is a gamification of sharing. [29:07]
  • Developers spend something like 8% of their time writing new code and the rest is just other stuff that surrounds them. [29:38]

Guest Bio:

Sarah Saunders is a Senior Developer at Capgemini. Designing and building performant, maintainable, cloud-native distributed systems in Java and C# with a DevOps mindset. Worked at all levels of the technology stack from shell scripting to agile coaching. Interested technologist, enjoys staying abreast of current trends.

Photo Of Sarah Saunders

Be confident. Don’t be afraid to ask more than you think and you can do the role that you’re aiming for.

— Sarah Saunders

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Audio Transcription:

In the digital reality evolution over revolution, prevent the QA approaches and techniques that worked yesterday will fail you tomorrow. So free your mind. The automation cyborg has been sent back in time. Ted speaker, Jonathan Wright’s mission is to help you save the future from bad software. 

Jonathon Wright

Hey, welcome to the

Today. I’m joined by Sarah Saunders from CapGemini, and she sharing her inspirational journey in technology. So without any further ado, Let me introduce Sarah. Tell us your story. 

Sarah Saunders

Okay. So I suppose that I started my journey into computing perhaps, cause that’s always sort of, of interest, especially to women and I think it sort of came I’ve always been quite mathematical. I’ve always liked sciences and I went to an all-girls school, which I think took away any perspective that old computing’s not for women because there was where there were no boys to tell me this and so I did massive physics, a levels and chose to do computer science basically cause my friend told me it would be a good way to get a job. So I wasn’t massively into computers. I had this I’d expect to him. I used to write a few games but I wasn’t, hugely into computers and then I did a pure computer science degree, and then I graduated around 2000 and at that time, if if you remember, the millennium bug, every software house, In Britain was just going, getting, finding a job wasn’t too hard and I joined a graduate scheme to new investment bank, which is a really great way to start an it career because even though we all had a degree, they were all in various different things. So there was no expectations of what you would know.

They started from scratch and they taught us very fast. For three months, and we learned a class, we learned C plus, and then we started to look at a bit of Java and databases, Sybase databases that they use in investment banking and I worked at the bank for seven years in sort of, content management type roles. So it wasn’t sort of frontline trading. 

I wasn’t doing the high-volume stuff. I was doing more looking at the investment bankers and their angle is. They need to know how long ago is it since they contacted their clients and which client knows which other client, it’s a very social thing.

So, sort of web 2.0 era, we fitted right into them. So we built them custom portals and custom publishing tools, so they could get their content out to their clients and I sort of, I didn’t really feel that I was getting anywhere there. I was in London. I didn’t really want to be living in London because I went to the University of Manchester and that was sort of where I felt my future would be.

So I moved companies to CapGemini, which is a, an IT Consultancy. So. There’s a pool. I’m still in the same team now. So there’s supposed to about a hundred of us in the UK and we’re also for engineers and then we sort of get allocated out to client projects, which could be anywhere at the moment.

Obviously, we’re all working from home, but I worked in the Welsh valleys and I worked in Telford and I’ve worked in Glasgow and London and Bristol and so it’s been a lot more fun than just sitting in the same office. It’s been really good and the other thing about that is every different project has a different environment, different technologies, different problems.

So it’s enabled me to build up a fantastic sort of holistic view of. Of how technology works, sort of say, Oh yeah. So for example, I was working on a Java project that finished and they asked me, do you think you can do sharp? I was like, yeah, it can’t be that different to Java. Luckily I was right and it wasn’t, but 10.

So, yeah, so it’s been a really great experience. I’ve been at Capgemini. Well I joined in ‘08, so quite a while now and just building up that sort of experience of different projects has been amazing and that’s enabled me to start this angle of my career, which is talking about stuff because I’ve seen so many things that I’ve got opinions on lots of things, and I’m quite happy to share them and get quite enthusiastic about them, which is nice.

Jonathon Wright

So what was the trigger then for the fo for doing a bit of public speaking and kind of giving back to talk to people about the kind of that your experiences? Really?

Sarah Saunders

It was very inspiring team lead that we had a guy called Andrew Harmel Law, and he’s at ThoughtWorks now and he blogs quite a lot and he does domain-driven-design courses and he was starting to do some talks. He was doing a talk about Java and Scala and the differences and that kind of showed his team. You can do it too and he encouraged us all to write the talk and then he went through there and I submitted this idea that I had about technical archeology, could we go back through.

The history of software architecture and look at the kind of the boons that we discover there and he was like, yeah, this should be really good. You should submit it and I submitted it to a London conference called devil box which is a lovely conference really kind of friendly crowd, really.

Geeky and interested board and they were like, yeah, come and do it. So I went along and did that talk and it was really well received. I was walking in the Lake district and I met a guy. He recognized me and he was like, Oh yeah that’s one of the best tour I’ve ever seen. So I kind of, a hint of fame, like people have seen what I do and they like it.

So that gave me the confidence. Have a go at chatting about different things and I’ve done a few talks since then on different subjects and just found that is something that not afraid of and it’s something that enjoy. So, I always get put forward cause I’m prepared to do. 

Jonathon Wright

Oh it’s wonderful and that kind of, because I guess, a lot of young professionals are kind of starting their career off and that having that kind of graduate program that you started, which gave you all those foundational skills and that kind of context of different types of challenges, and then moving into someone like CapGemini, which really nurture that and there’s such a global presence and you know that I’m guessing they’ve got a lot of professional development in-house as well. That’s an opportunity to learn new skills and apply those into different trades and different industries. Do you think that’s been a really big, valuable thing for you to kind of work in different types of industry as well?

Sarah Saunders

Yeah, it has and yeah, you’re right. Capgemini do give us quite a bit of freedom when it comes to training, we have 10 days a year. Yeah, and we can choose whatever we want to do with those 10 days and we quickly realized within our team that doing things like Oracle certification is not necessarily the most valuable.

You go down that certification route. With the fast sort of changing landscape of technology is quickly going to become out of date and any sort of cost structure that we provide is going to be out of date within the year. So we think that was skills matter. I don’t know if you’ve heard of skills matter, but They run or used to run.

So some fairly they get people like uncle Bob Martin, Maxine devils to come and talk about their subject. So you’d be hearing from the people that the cutting edge. So instead of doing a very dry kind of let’s try and trip you up with your Oracle Java training, it was more well, let’s look forward.

Let’s see what’s coming up next and so we tried to take that mentality with training, keep people’s enthusiasm and cause once you’ve got the kind of core concepts of technology, if you’ve got that enthusiasm as well, it’s much easier to keep abreast of the changes in technology. So yeah, training’s a huge thing and continues to be here. Yeah, 

Jonathon Wright

I, I love skills matter and I, I actually, I keep them bumping in St. Alban’s where near where I am at the moment. Alad Richardson who lives here lives there. He does a lot of the selenium hackathons and more of these black hot days where people can go and learn to do code find problems and bugs and also, the foundation, of whether that be selenium or a particular language and then Like you say, it’s great to hear from the people who are the practitioners, right. Who have that wanna share their experience and so do you run anything internally where you kind of do like your own dojo’s too kind of talk a little bit about a chosen subject that you’ve been working on for a client or something someone might be interested in?

Is that kind of something you do or?  

Sarah Saunders

Yeah, we do. We have a couple of angles on that. We have monthly tech talks where anyone can just come and talk about. Whatever they’re doing or whatever they think is the next big thing. So we’ve had some really great talks about things like. AI and blockchain, but also more kind of down to earth, application modernization type talks.

They’ve been excellent and then we also have an internal software craftsmanship course because we really believe in this kind of software engineering culture, which we struggled to define in a way, but it’s about, there’s a lot of elements to it. It’s about finding people who have a similar mindset to ourselves, people who are genuinely interested in the technology side, who aren’t joining a consultancy to manage people that are joining because of the range of problems and who aren’t afraid to fail.

That was a big thing around the sort of the courage to be wrong, and how can we kind of build-up that culture? Where we allow our people to fail safely because when you’re working in cutting-edge technologies, you know that sometimes nobody knows the answer. There is no right answer. So we need to provide people with a framework so that they can work safely with these.

With these sort of leading-edge technology. So we devised this concept of software craftsmanship. I’m not quite sure we were having a discussion as to where the craftsman is quite the right word because it does conjure up somebody sort of whittling away in the corner on their own piece of art, which is not really what software should be, although it very often is but it, yeah, it’s things like pair programming, test-driven development, just going back to the basics, the agile manifesto, just the course is very much focusing on things like that. Design and modeling Simon Brown C4 model, abstracting away from UML and just. Get back to the raw basics of what it is that we do.

So we try to run a course like that for new joiners to our team. Just because we enjoy it really to remind ourselves, why we’re engineers and what it is that we love about the engineering culture. 

Jonathon Wright

That’s sounds amazing. Uh, Part of, I, I had this conversation this morning with Paul Gerrard.

Again, we were talking about how the difficult challenge around professional development and this go down the route of certification and like you mentioned, like, Oh, well I need to get. The latest Oracle certification for X versus, going down the practitioner route or the apprenticeship route where you’ve got mentors or people internally who you can ask questions and learn and, in the normal world, we’ve got things like chartered engineer States, which, been around for a very long time, but don’t really facilitate this level of technology and I think as a technologist, and that was, I know one of your titles of one of your roles is, you’ll kind of.

You’re an engineer, but you’re also driving technology and this concept of being able to fail and celebrate failure, which is really difficult when, the failure could potentially have a cost or risk associated with it but I think it’s really important to have that safe space where you can kind of go and do it and I know that things like retrospectives have been there and I think you’ve probably enjoyed the character, which is Dave Snowden, but, he has, it runs a workshop where he’s called a ritual dissent, which is where people put on a mask and the idea is that you kind of look at a problem when you kind of say, Oh, well, I’ll do it.

How could I have done better done this? Or how could I have avoided that? And then everyone has to come up with an idea to build on and you put it onto the wall and say, Okay, well, what if we’d have done this approach or we’ve tried this, and then we have, they always have to have somebody who has another mask, which is playing devil’s advocate, who says, no, that won’t work.

This won’t work and then they really trying to play off each other to try and think about and brainstorm ideas and, I’ve always admired people like CapGemini who really do add the fun back into. Things. So if it’s, whether it’s a discovery or a new client, you’re kind of making it a bit more light and, interactive and a bit more fun.

Do you feel that that kind of safe space and also quite mentorship and supporting, you having a strong leader as well to encourage you to speaking, do you feel that’s the kind of thing, which new people really need to help grow their careers? 

Sarah Saunders

Yes. Yeah.

Especially the mentorship and it’s having somebody to sort of look up to you to say, I want to be like that. I want to have that as my career when I grew up sort of thing, isn’t it? Because this is one of the things that we kind of focus on in our division because a lot of our engineers.

They, they want to advance. They want to be promoted and be recognized, but they don’t want to go the typical kind of leadership route of having to take on management responsibilities, sort of HR problems, project problems. They want to be recognized for their engineering skills. So, we’re trying to create that kind of I forgotten the name that we had put, but that sort of engineering manager path and it really is working in that people who join can now see. These, respected engineers and they can be their role models in their mentors to help them progress their ability. 

So, yeah, mentoring is an amazing thing. I still don’t think we’ve quite got it. Right. Especially sort of in, in the computing world the mental shit might not be face-to-face, a lot of us are not particularly good at to face-to-face interaction, but it’s just having that kind of, if you can demonstrate your skills to someone in a way that inspires them, or even if it negatively inspires them, if they’re like, Oh, that’s ridiculous. It should be done a different way.

That sort of spark of inspiration is what we need. Isn’t it. To keep us interested in what we do. 

Jonathon Wright

I couldn’t agree more and I think it also brings this really interesting dimension, which you mentioned, which is around, well, what is some of the soft skills that may be, you want to support it with, whether that be, basic use of tools, it could be, just, speaking communication skills and, we’ve always.

Encouraged the Myers Briggs or a another type of psychometric test but then once we get there, how do we get those people who are in a, in our industry or extroverts, or, people who are, have problems even turning on the camera to be more interactive when they having meetings? What do you think about the kind of the soft skills as well?

Sarah Saunders

It’s very interesting that my husband is a psychologist and it drives him mad whenever we kind of play around with things like Myers-Briggs, cause he’s like, you don’t know what you’re using and you don’t know what it means to do dope and I think what we really need to do is recognize the skills in the team that we have.

If we have someone that’s outgoing, we need to put them in a role where they can. Excel at that because we have lots of people who are not, we really don’t want to do those things and  I think it’s recognizing our limitations as well as our strengths, there are soft skills that you can’t teach that you can learn some things and the CapGemini has excellent courses on, presentation and all sorts of things and then conflict management, things like that but it, even if you’ve learned it, it might not be what you want to do and I think, yeah, there’s definitely very much a recognition of there are soft skills that I don’t have and I’ll never have, and maybe I should just. Not ever been in a position where I need to use them. So yeah, definitely another interesting topic.

Jonathon Wright

No, absolutely and I think it’s that kind of thing where you’ve got like you said, part of it is sometimes people start off a career path and they want to be an engineer and they want to develop their career but you know, they don’t want to go into management because seeing that career progression.

Right, and they may want to say, well, actually, want to do a bit of rotation, I want to try. My hundred data science or, I want to, have a little play around having a bit of chance to kind of see if that is for me and that, people should have that kind of freedom to, to experience what other teams are doing, whether they’re business analysts, whether the project management and to get a bit of a taste of that experiment.

I know consultancy’s one of those great things where you can try your hand at something and you can go out and, reach out to somebody in your division who will be great at. Yeah, like you said, domain design or, another area and, encouraging people to say, yeah, you may be in a role at the moment and come in as a, an engineer, but you’ve got, you’re going to grow your career and find a path through what you really enjoy doing.

Sarah Saunders

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ve never. Switched careers like that and I have huge respect for the people who do you know, to be going down a track and then to say to yourself, Oh, this isn’t for me and to manage to completely switch is a huge challenge. Isn’t it? That Yeah, as you say, it’s great in a consultancy because we can quite easily find another division and get them to come and talk to us about what they do and maybe, find some people that we think would fit better in their team than ours or vice versa. We do try and poach as many people internally as we can but yeah, I mean, switching into technologies as a career is something that’s quite interesting, especially for women. I find we’ve, we run internally the returners scheme, which encourages women who’ve maybe been out of.

Technology for five, 10, 15 years to come back in, and then we give them three months to train in whatever it is they want to do to get back up to speed and we’ve had a couple of really great people doing through the return is skiing, but even more impressive are the schemes that take women who have had a career break and then switch careers into technology.

Again, I did a sort of. It was like a really weird zoom chat where you just joined and you’d be randomly paired with somebody who was in this situation and so I had a chat with a few women that were saying, yeah, well, I realized I was quite good at doing the household accounts and I, really aced my home spreadsheet.

So I thought I’d move into technology and I’m loving it. Stories like that are amazing and I have every respect for people that can make that. Right-angled turn in their career paths. 

Jonathon Wright

Absolutely. I remember, Euro-star this year, they did this like blind date re chat roulette thing where you could go on to video and talk to other people who were attendees.

Right, and part of it is you just got randomly matched with somebody you’d had. Two minutes to just talk and then, like speed dating or something and then if you wanted to extend the chat, you could, but if not, you got picked off to another buddy and I think that’s a great way of kind of saying, well, what do you do?

What is it intact? And have that, that FaceTime with people and, I think you’re absolutely right when, especially with the pandemic is even though you’ve also got this real challenge around Wellbeing and mindfulness, right where you’ve got real challenges of getting people to, people to support them from a mental illness perspective, but also a wide array where they’re still getting that exposure that time, there’s big companies that against started up a call, things like water cooler, where people just want to have that time to interact with people, talk about what they did at the weekend, and not be just in a position where it was zoom equals.

Work, it can be also this kind of this, these interaction with each other, which I think humans we need that kind of level of interaction and know that people are caring for us within our team, but also addressing as like you said, there’s people who have challenges in certain areas and they need work and maybe they need support in that kind of area as well and so do you find, now that you’re a part of big teams working for different projects that, There is a bit of downtime as well, where you can kind of chew the fat and, took a, talk to people and do fun things and do quizzes and stuff like that. Is that something that you guys are doing more and more?

Sarah Saunders

Well, we tried, we tried this a lot last year and some of the projects we’ve set up specific rules, some of the projects are saying, right, whenever you have a meeting, you must have your camera and things like that to try and keep the engagement force people into it because sometimes if you’re not asked, then you might not put it on.

You might just sort of sit in the meeting. So they’re trying to keep that face to face. Same when they did things like they posted everybody, a rubber duck. I hadn’t heard of this concept of rubber ducking way. If you just need to talk to someone, even if it’s a plastic duck, sometimes just verbalizing the problem to your duck will help so that they tried that and and every year we run an internal unconference. So we ran that virtually last year, just using teams, virtual meetings, but it is getting harder and harder to think of something fresh. That can be done virtually, a lot of projects that I’ve been on, they have this sort of weekly meeting, which is the like you say, the water cooler, the tea break meeting, but everybody who joins is joined because they’re a bit different.

So the whole kind of mood meeting is really miserable and you come out feeling a lot worse than you did before. Well, you join sometimes. So, yeah, I’m always looking for new ideas of. Have ways to, as you say, keep that social spot about face to face. Spark alive and yeah, struggling a bit, especially, I can’t believe it’s still January.

This month is really dragging. 

Jonathon Wright

I don’t know if you remember Pete Jack Jenkins, who did the talk at the virtual community days last year and he was talking about gamification and so I looked forward to every Friday, the gamification Guild, which is a whole stack of as zoo we get together and talk about gamification for apps and stuff. Mainly around health care and stuff and I genuinely look forward to Pete sessions every week because they’re fun and they’re structured in that kind of manner where we take the first five, 10 minutes to, like you said, to talk a bit about, what you’ve been doing, socially what’s, things you’re challenges you’ve got and then.

Also, make it a bit of fun. So we had a goat on one of our zoom calls. So you can hire ago in Wales. I think it is where it’ll literally join your zoom channel and chat with people and you can ask it things and it is that rubber ducky kind of view of the world. Right. Make it a bit more fun but it is an actual, real goat that is sat there on zoom call.

Right. Which is very strange but you know, part of that gave me fine things w is what I really loved about it was this, how do make it so people really want to do well and achieve because they’re this they’re gamifying it. Whether that be. People coming up with a really good innovation idea for, internally on an internal innovation lab or a hackathon or a personal development, quiz or whatever it may be is just to make people go.

I want to get engaged, I want to. Have that kind of recognition that I’m either working hard or, I’m really good at this, or I’m really enjoying doing it and, I think that engagement is really difficult because, we have our work and then we’ve got very little time between it and yes, a lot of the tools like Microsoft teams, for instance, have started doing this kind of insights. I’m sure you’ve seen it on outlook where it kind of says starts recommending. Breaks for you and making sure you’ve got the right amount of downtime and if you had the Microsoft to do it kind of starts managing your calendar a little bit better and putting in breaks and trying to kind of add this idea of how to support you pulling in this new way of working right, the new reality and I think it’s. It’s important, but also I really liked what you said with the kind of, well, getting to speak to other people who had come in, who are similar, who, come into technology or had a break from it and provide that mentorship kind of program where you can kind of give them advice about your experiences and maybe things that they can go and try courses that you’ve really enjoyed books that you really enjoy.

I don’t I, I ordered a book on Jeffrey Moore the crossing, the chasm book, which is the product management book and it’s that kind of book club kind of, well, what can, what should I be reading? What audiobooks should I be listening to? But to keep me kind of excited about this industry and it’s, I guess it’s not just the technology and the soft skills like you were mentioning with the kind of what your husband and this, these a lot of these psychology.

Models or cognitive models, but cognitive behavioral therapy, which you can do yourself to kind of get yourself in that man, right. Mentality. But you’ve also got this business landscape where people might be, always doing financial services or always doing healthcare and, getting a bit of chance to do retail or do something a bit more different.

So have you seen that where people are wanting to try their hand in a different industry? As a way of kind of getting more exposure to that particular domain? 

Sarah Saunders

Yeah, it’s very interesting. Isn’t it? How if you meet someone that isn’t in your domain, just a couple of minutes, talking to them can completely kind of dig your mindset and like, Oh, I never looked at it that way.

So that sort of cross-pollination of ideas only takes a couple of minutes, isn’t it? These sort of zoom drop-ins can really spark something interesting, but so we don’t see it much. No. I think, especially in the day job, there’s so much that we have to focus on making sure that we’re, working effectively for the client, that having the time to do something like step right out and mix with other teams doesn’t happen too often.

We do occasionally set up things, with that goal in mind. Kept going as a French company and their main big training office is in a Chateau outside Paris. So one of the highlights of working here is to go and hang out there and they did a hackathon one year. So we went out. Some of the tech team went out on the hackathon, but lots of the smartly suited consultants where it was staying there as well and they invited us to come and talk to them, and what they said was, we want to know why you techies are so good at sharing. And we what? And they said, well, it’s open-source, Lark. You give away all of your information. You don’t hold anything. But yeah. Yeah, the more you give away, the more effective and the more highly regarded you are and from them, from the business perspective, this was sort of mind-blowing to them because if you’re a, a process consultant, your value is in your head is in the things that you can tell people. So if you gave that away, you would be effectively valueless. So that was a fascinating insight into how other people look at sharing compared to.

If we write a new widget, which reads across multiple continuous integration tools and creates a nice dashboard, we want to open source it. We want to share it and sort of sitting down to think, well, what is that? That we do that and it’s effective and it led me down quite a sort of rabbit hole of Well, actually it, isn’t the code that we write that has the value.

Most of the code that we write has been written before most of the code that we write, we could copy them paste from Google, and in fact, the skills that give us value is not in the writing of the code. It’s in the note how to create a book product for that code. It’s the CIA and the CD.

It’s the quality analysis. It’s the understanding of how we can relate technology to the business problems. That’s where our value is. So that was kind of came from that sort of cross-pollination of teams and yeah, that was kind of mind-blowing. Really? 

Jonathon Wright

No it’s amazing and I love what you’re saying there around value, right.

In the eye of the beholder of, well, actually, Yeah. Part of it is yes, these are patterns which we use and I know you, you didn’t like the word craftsmanship, but you know, it is a very much like a pattern you would do or a recipe you would follow to print something, but the actual value is in it.

How you create an understanding. I think you said at the start, which you really enjoyed. When you’re drawing technology with this problem solving, this actively applying different recipes or patterns to solve a particular problem to generate some kind of value, which has some sort, it means something to, to someone.

Right, and I think that’s what the business guys were probably. Say identifying was you sharing all this stuff, all these recipes to move the industry on and make it better and help other people and but you’re also creating all this value, right? Because you’re thinking of using critical thinking.

You’re able to speak to customers. You’re able to interpret their needs and come up with a solution which delights them. Right, and that’s kind of a skill, which, a younger Sara, what starting out a career and looking at contact management and building custom solutions to help. The traders and all that kind of stuff.

You were in that from the start, right? You’re in that I got to, I can solve that problem. You go but it’s not cold. Something is a, it’s not called Pressman ship. It’s not cold engineering. So, having that facilitation to really get people, to encourage them to want to be able to go off and do that and the joy and the reward and the recognition for doing that and doing a good job is kind of what CapGemini are actually essence encouraging you by doing this kind of these kinds of activities.  

Sarah Saunders

Yeah. Yeah. It won’t be, you were saying about gamification is really kind of swept our industry as well. Hasn’t it? If you think, the more open source contributions that you make, that the more kind of green your guitar profile grows, the more valuable you are on the market, and that in a way is kind of a game of vacation, isn’t it is that gamification of sharing and it has resulted in the suffer industry that we know today. 

Yeah, Yeah

Jonathon Wright

It’s fascinating, Exactly.. 

Sarah Saunders

When I was worrying about writing code and things like that little did I realize it, it just isn’t the main part of our careers and I remember seeing a statistic, I think developers spend something like 8% of their time writing, new code and the rest is just other stuff that surrounds them. So, Yeah 

Jonathon Wright

It’s that day of the life. Isn’t it and I think that’s, I think that’s maybe where we need to be focusing going forwards is the day of the life of a consultant is you’re absolutely right.

6% might be doing business logic or writing some code. The rest of it is these peripheral activities, which people don’t. Really recognized the communication, having the meetings with teams and understanding things a little bit better and getting more clarification, clarify clarifying things or thinking, brainstorming it with other members of the team, and all these other tertiary activities that aren’t really.

Recognized and, I think that’s a real challenge because the day in the life of whether a developer or a tester or a BA or a project manager, they may all have something very similar and it’s. Not only that when the sharing happens, which is when people get together and kind of brainstorm and think about those ideas and, think what went right and what went wrong and how we can get that better improved, and then share it with everyone else in the organization is kind of the outcome, what we’re trying to, we’re trying to achieve.

Right. I’d love that. I think, gamifying it. Is that everyone can contribute to everything. The problem is that in a way we’re kind of allocated to a tasks. So if I’m a healthcare customer, a client, and I’ve got a developer, then my boundaries are fair, defined and an actual fact knows that context, that what we apply for solve a particular problem in healthcare might work.

Great and financial services might be great in, in another industry. So sharing that knowledge and sharing those patterns is kind of really important for us to be able to grow and also give those people that the exposure to, to see what those other people are doing and I think maybe gamification could do that.

Where people, I guess, like I can swear, you can kind of say. I’ve got a problem at the moment I’m doing this kind of challenge, what’s people’s thoughts, and really kind of build upon it where people can have it, the interaction with people that maybe they don’t usually have within the organization, whether they’re much senior, whether they are financial.

Servicer, financial kind of CFO kind of level, or, down to logistics or infrastructure, having that CapGemini kind of reach is really quite exciting for somebody who wants to be keen and learn really. 

Sarah Saunders

Yeah. Very much so. Yeah., Yeah and it’s the one thing that’s getting harder at the moment, isn’t it with sort of isolation missing out on that sharing?

Even on a sort of day-to-day level you really value the people that you work with, who are the ones where you kind of, you know, we have a Slack channel. I might post on the Slack channel. Well, I, this is my update for today. I’m a bit stuck on this and the person who responds and says. Let’s have a face-to-face call and talk this through and you just want to be so grateful for that person because it will always work.

Even if they just sit there and go, have you tried that? Oh right. Did it work? No. What you’re going to do next? The three or four times I’ve done that over the past few months, I’ve always, everything has just become clear and it just takes that person to just recognize what. What’s needed, doesn’t it, and then, yeah, I get, get that sharing going and you can be unblocked. 

Jonathon Wright

Absolutely, and we might have originally called the newsgroups or something when the internet was first founded and then forums, but they all had that kind of achievement status. Right. You get 4,000 responses. It didn’t matter how good they were.

Part of it is you got a gold star next year is that kind of area that you need? These people who can say yes, I might be swamped with my work, but actually, I can come over context, switch for a minute and sit with you and kind of help you out and, we may give them roles of scrum master or, a particular title, but actually, maybe it needs to be more general than that and it needs to be this kind of opportunity where you can go into a pool with people who can help you with a particular task who could be an Eagle, as they say on some of the adverts, but you know, an Eagle on web design or an on process or something else is, really helping and we sometimes used to call them, with. DevOps, you might call them Batman or something. The people who were those superheroes that help you out when you get stuck, that might be what we need is those, putting the light in the sky and with the big DevOps logo there and get, Sarah, to come in and have a pride.

So anyway, it’s been so good, but, just as a kind of, for those listeners who want to reach out to you or chat with you, or, Pick your brains, how easy is it to get? What’s the best way to get in touch with you? And, is it on LinkedIn? Do you do blogs? What’s the best way to reach out?

Sarah Saunders

Yeah, LinkedIn we have a brilliant Capgemini engineering blog that we think GitHub Capgemini engineering, maybe just Yeah, that’d be it. Okay. I’m one of the bloggers on there and that’s got my LinkedIn and Twitter handles on which you’re both good ways to get in contact, so yeah, feel free to do so.

Jonathon Wright

Well, that’d be awesome and any kind of top tips as well for especially women in tech on words of wisdom of how to get started, how to, be, become successful. 

Sarah Saunders

Yeah. I don’t know. I’ve always found it being a huge advantage to be a woman in technology because I’m a minority group that people are focused on.

I kind of, if they’re three presentation requests and they were like, Oh, a female, do you have a, I always, it always seems to work in my favor. So thinking about. What I’ve seen with the women that have trained with me, joined with me over the years. A lot of women do seem to move into testing and I would be really interested to speak to some more testers and find out why that is, but from the ones that I’ve spoken to, it just seems to be a confidence thing.

The test is that I’ve worked with I  I think you would call them QA’s now, really, because, the developer writes or their automated tests, and then the QA will come in and do the kind of, have you tested this, have you done that and sitting with these women, they read my entire code base.

It completely understands them and then they’ll pull out when you haven’t written a test for that, or, well, these two are going to run it. No, the depth of their knowledge is incredible, but it’s just. Maybe they just like testing. I don’t know, but it does seem to me that there’s this kind of like, oh, I’m not good enough to be a frontline engineer.

I’ll sit here and I’ll do the testing or I’ll be the support role and, there is a massive generalization of course, but I have seen it a lot and I do wonder if it’s maybe a confidence thing. Does the women sort of go into technology and hear people talking about angular 16 and Java 21, and they’re like, Oh God, jail, right?

Like we’re not going over there. Whereas if you were to walk over and go, all right, what’s different in Java 21, the bubble would best realize it. This group of engineers is just waffling and they know more than you. I don’t, but I don’t know if it’s just my opinion. So I think, what I need to do is go and talk to more testers about why their test is maybe I’ll end up becoming a tester on the back of this journey, because I’ll be like, Oh, you’re all right.


Well, they ended that waffle is basically, I guess my main message is to be confident. Don’t be afraid to ask, more than you think. And you can do the role that you’re aiming for is probably the. The message. 

Jonathon Wright

Absolutely great advice and it’s been fantastic as always. I love having you on the all the events that we’ve run for the last year and hopefully the events in 2021 as well.

So, thank you so much, Sarah.

Sarah Saunders

I very much enjoyed muscling away. So it’s been, I appreciated this. Thanks, Jon.

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