Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Aislinn McBride

  • Name: Aislinn McBride

    Role: Deputy CTO, Digital Services at Kainos

    What does your typical day look like?

    There’s no such thing as typical! I work across Kainos software delivery projects, guiding technology standards, skills requirements, solution design etc. Most of the time that’s about supporting our technologists.  As a technology leader my role isn’t to dictate, but to see the challenges and opportunities for improvements and give teams the freedom to be creative in finding solutions.

    Today, as I write this, I’m on a plane to London to interview a number of people for architect roles.  This is an activity that I enjoy, as it really shapes the future of the organisation, successfully bringing new people into an organisation needs a careful hand. It’s not about whether they know java or have worked with Azure, but can they design a solution, can they do this collaboratively and can they deliver success as part of a team.

    What are you currently working on?

    I work in a growing organisation, so a lot of my focus now is on scaling.  To support this, I am running a project to industrialise our approach to maintaining good practices.  This includes collaboration across technology disciplines, working directly with delivery teams and building out our documentation, training and support for change.  A key element to the success of this is to keep in mind that no one is an island, and while learning from our own mistakes is great, we can also learn from those around us. Community is at the heart of how I approach these activities.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    I joined as a placement student based on the great reputation of the onboarding training programme andI came back five years later for the people.  That’s what has kept me at Kainos for 13 years.  Things change a lot, so does technology, but the one constant has been the incredible technologists on every team.

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    As a young teenager I didn't know much about technology; I wasn't in that category of people who built gadgets in my spare time, taking computers apart or gaming.  I didn't have a home computer until towards the end of my school days. I really started to consider it as a career when I realised it brought together my desire to problem solve and my analytical ability. 

    With technology, you're never building from the ground up, you're always standing on the shoulders of all the technologists who've come before you (other people have built hardware solutions, OS platforms, frameworks and libraries that we now depend on). A lot of the work of my role has been trying to understand what these things are, pulling information apart and coming up with my personal opinion on how to solve problems with what we have available.  For me, that's exciting, it gives me enormous satisfaction when I've contributed to real working software that makes a difference for people.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I love a good challenge, spotting problems and working out solutions. But it has to be my colleagues that make this enjoyable! Building your support network makes it not only easier to enjoy the day-to-day, but you get to learn from their experiences, making it easier to grow.

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry (tech)?

    Go for it. There’s a wide variety of work right here in NI. There are few who don’t have a skill set that can add value in the technology space.  Perception can easily be that working in tech means engineering only. But it requires a huge variety of skills, for example good organisational skills may lead you down a Scrum Master route, an interest in people and how they experience technology may lead you towards a User Experience Design role or if you like to break things in creative ways you may go down a Testing route. The list is endless.

    How do you see technology impacting on our lives?

    Expect more and more services that make our everyday lives easier.  Tech shouldn’t just be accessible to the well informed, tech-savvy of today, but people from all walks of life.  This is called inclusive design and it’s increasing in adoption, meaning we’ll see more changes that affect the masses, where the focus isn’t about building technology but is solving problems.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    The first person who inspired me in this field was a past pupil who visited my school.  She shared her story about her career in tech.  It was so different to anything I knew of at the time and gave me confidence that I could do it too.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    For me, it’s less the specific technical discovery, rather the more intelligent use of technology, that’s important. Businesses and technology organisations are waking up to the value of data and the value of real time access to that data. This has infiltrated almost every aspect of how we live; this has led to solutions like wearable devices and apps to support our wellbeing, communication tools which bring distributed families together, contactless payments, exchange of data (photos, messages, email), travel information, education, the list goes on. We'll see more of this in the future; with the current focus on inclusive design, more software will be built to support all people; not just the tech savvy.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    Easy, my mobile phone.  I genuinely don’t know how we ever managed without them.


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