Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Caroline Maitland

  • Name: Caroline Maitland

    Role: Senior Software Development Engineer

    I am a Senior Software Development Engineer at ESO. I have 10+ years experience within development, consulting and QA. I have previously worked for Autonomy, Citi, Lightwell and State Street. During my studies I completed a placement year at Liberty Information Technology. Previous roles have given me an experience across a range of technologies, with Java being the most prominent language I have used throughout. I graduated at the top of my class with a Masters of Engineering in Computer Science from the Queen’s University of Belfast in 2009. 

    What does your typical day look like?

    I get up and feed the cat, get ready for work and then head to the office. When I get to the office, I make a mug of tea, have a chat with my colleagues and catch up on any unread emails and messages. I then get stuck into my work for the day, where the primary focus will be on whatever stories or tasks I have assigned. It also includes completing any relevant training, background reading, researching new applications or tools I am using, having meetings and calls to transfer knowledge, and helping out with some of the interviews for prospective new hires.

    I have 2 short daily stand-ups, one in the morning, in person for those in Belfast that are working on the same group of applications and a second global, application-specific stand-up in the afternoon that includes a group of colleagues in the U.S. Our office is in the city centre, which is very handy for lunch and the office space has a great social area, where most days I sit down and eat with some of the team. The best days are when we have new joiners starting and we head out somewhere for a proper team lunch! 

    What are you currently working on?

    I am currently working on a project named State Apps. It is a state-level Emergency Medical Services (EMS) information system that collects data on each EMS call report made within the state. It allows for the evaluation of EMS patient care and links this with hospital outcome data. It tracks the education and credentials of EMS personnel and stores ambulance permits and inspection information and EMS agency permits. The system also has integrations with other external systems.

    The core development is in Java with a web based front end currently built using JSP and Javascript, as well as a separate XML based import process. As it’s been in development for a while, we’re also working on making it more modern and scalable with technologies like Docker, Kubernetes, microservices, Angular and more. All on Azure.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    The software job market in Belfast is currently thriving and there are a lot of options out there, but for me, ESO stood out as a different proposition from all the others. I was really inspired by ESO’s mission, which is to improve community health and safety through the power of data. This includes software for EMS, Fire Services, hospitals, and state healthcare entities.

    The benefits are felt by the communities being served as well as the first responders. This gives a great deal of job satisfaction at the end of the day, feeling that your efforts are ultimately helping people. I was impressed by everyone I met and spoke to from the company before I joined. The company has a great ethos and culture that is embraced by everyone from the CEO to new hires. It is very exciting to have joined the Belfast office in its early stages and I look forward to being a part of ESO’s growth here. There is a tremendous group of talented and lovely people in the office so far!

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

    Yes and no. I have always been interested in working in tech, but I had other interests I considered pursuing. When making my University choices I applied for both Computer Science courses and other courses in Film Studies, Media Studies and Psychology.

    I found it hard to decide which path to follow, so much so that I actually started a Film Studies degree. I knew within a week that it wasn’t the right decision and immediately transferred to the Computer Science course and never looked back. Many years ago my P7 teacher actually predicted I would follow a career in IT, so it must have always been the path I was destined to follow.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I enjoy problem solving so I really like to get stuck into development tasks and try and come up with the best solutions, whether making improvements or adding new functionality. I enjoy debugging issues and like to dig into the code to work out what it is doing. I am also passionate about code quality and testing.

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

    If you are interested, go for it!  It is the perfect time to be working in the industry as there are a lot of well-established companies hiring and new companies opening offices. Also, it’s never too late! I came through a traditional Computer Science degree route, but my husband Chris recently made a career change into Software Development through the year-long Software Development Masters at Queen’s and he is loving his new career!

    It is wonderful to see that there are more women coming into the industry now than 10 years ago, when I graduated, but we still have a long way to go! I would especially encourage women, regardless of age or experience, to consider a career in IT – you will be amazed at the number of opportunities and where they can take you!

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?

    The biggest impact emerging is the power of data. So often in the media we hear negative stories of how big companies are exploiting our data for their personal gain. At ESO, it is amazing to see how data can be put to a positive use to improve patient care, improve processes and improve the lives of emergency staff.

    Who inspired you to work in this field?

    Definitely my Dad!  He had a career as an IT Manager so he was definitely my main inspiration for my career and I was very lucky to have him there as a great support to me throughout my education. Growing up with access to a computer, in the days when having a home computer was not commonplace, was also a great advantage.

    I definitely inherited my Dad’s logical brain and problem-solving skills, although I can’t pretend to be as smart as he is, he is probably the most intelligent person I know!  Both of my parents always encouraged me to fulfil my potential and pursue whatever career would make me happy, so I never felt I had any limitations in my options because of my gender or otherwise. 
     
    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    The proliferation of mobile and tablet devices and the improvement of mobile data capabilities has probably had the biggest impact across the tech industry in recent years. It has completely changed the way we interact with each other, how we engage with companies and has revolutionised the way people work. It certainly enables ESO to develop solutions that are used on the go by emergency services personnel while treating patients.
     
    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    Probably my mobile phone as these days there is not much they can’t do.

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