Adrian Causby is a graduate on the Data and Tech programme. He explains how this looks on a day-to-day basis: “We typically work collaboratively within a two-week agile sprint cycle. So we might have a 15-minute stand-up every morning and use pair programming to work together on a project during the day. On top of this, we have sprint reviews, demos and a retrospective at the end of the fortnight to analyse what went wrong and what went well, and how we can build on that.”
In addition, there are regular team days, meet-ups in the office (most people work remotely), partner days (with Amazon Web Services (AWS), for instance) software guilds for skills sharing, and plenty of opportunities for personal growth. It’s a very collaborative environment and one that the team has worked hard to foster.
“It sounds pithy to say that working here you can make a difference,” says Steve. “We obviously have a day job of building great software and making that whole process as efficient as possible. But, the bit that really attracts me, is how we go beyond this: to help other teams, enable best practice, and really evangelise over architectures and different ways of doing stuff. Ultimately, it’s about raising the bar across our teams, which makes us a far more effective organisation as a result.”
Working with a modern tech stack
One of the things that surprises a lot of new recruits joining EDF, like Adrian, is how forward thinking the business is, not only in terms of its modern ways of working (like the Spotify model); but also its adoption of new technologies.
“We use everything on the cloud,” he says. “I thought we might just be automating scripts with Excel, but instead we have this massive cloud architecture where we intake data, process it, put it all on AWS and then create applications based on that, such as applications for our traders to forecast costs. It’s great to work with such advanced features.”
What projects might you work on?
“There’s quite a few pieces of work we’ve done recently that I’m super proud of,” says Steve. “The work we did with our enterprise IT team to create this almost ‘cookie cutter’ approach to bootstrapping teams and getting them set up on our cloud providers is probably the most exciting thing we’ve done. Since it now takes less than a day to get a new person onboarded, and we’ve made the process super slick.”
“We also received an industry award for our MyDash solution, which was developed in partnership between my team and our partners,” he continues. “Together, we rebuilt our advisor-facing solution to build a more user efficient experience for our Customer Service Advisors and make it much quicker to train them up.”
While software development at EDF tends to fall under the two categories of 'front-end development' or 'back-end development', Steve is keen to move away from “pigeonholing people”. Instead, he prefers to use the broader term or ‘Software Engineer’ or even ‘Consultants Who Code’.
He explains why: “I don’t want the people who are writing software for us hidden away from our users. I want people to understand our business problems. In this day and age we’re all consumers (particularly energy consumers) and we know what good looks like. So I really encourage our engineering community to get to the heart of what our business problems are, what consumers are looking for, and codify that into practical applications.”
It links back to the collaborative culture the team has created and Steve’s focus on continuous improvement. Whether that’s the products the team create or their personal development: adding new skills, achieving certification, transitioning front end developers to become full stack developers, and so on.
Could we be a match?
While technical skills are important, both Steve and Xavier emphasise this is less important than a potential team member being a good fit with the team’s culture. Steve explains: “It comes back to our continuous improvement mindset. We’re looking for folks who want to help to make things better; who are really keen to collaborate, and who want to work on ways of improving what they do, be it writing better code, improving our processes, or identifying knowledge gaps in the team.”
Xavier adds: “We want someone who is open minded, a free thinker, and able to speak ‘truths to power’, which is a key phrase we throw around a lot. So we’ve interviewed and hired people who might not have ticked many boxes in our list of technical skills. But because of their personality and attitude, we’ve hired them. And they’ve grown within the organisation because they’re hungry to learn more.”