Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Michaela Woods

  • Name: Michaela Woods

    Job title: Technical Evangelist & Training Manager at KX

    What does your typical day look like?

    Like most, my day starts off with a cup of coffee and time spent checking through any priority items that have come through overnight. I then catch up briefly with my team on our morning stand up where we update each other on our projects and if any issues have arisen. I am the Evangelism Training Manager for KX which means my key responsibility is delivering our training roadmap. At present, that involves creating technical training content for new courses as well as recording videos for our new self-serve training platform, KX Academy. My afternoon calendar is usually populated with calls, with most of my clients and colleagues US-based.

    What are you currently working on?

    I am currently working on developing content for our exciting new learning platform, KX Academy. This will be a self-serve, on-demand training portal where anyone will be able to register and get access to training videos, a KX sandbox environment (no software install required) and hosted online content to work through at their own pace. As the pandemic has evidenced, training no longer need be solely physical and this has allowed us to adapt our training format, and, have further reach to educate more people about the powers of KX. 

    Furthermore, with data pouring in across every area of organisations, having the ability to analyze and act on that data at speed is going to be a game changer. Interestingly however, recent research from KX showed that having the people or skill sets needed to manage data analytics is the second biggest barrier (49%) to using data more efficiently - close behind having the technology needed to effectively capture data (50%).

    Indeed, having effective training in place to ensure teams are equipped with the skills they need to drive smarter decision making is vital - it’s great to be part of this process in providing that to our clients and prospects.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    Coming from an MSc in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from Trinity College Dublin, my career path largely differs from my fellow alumni! While they were applying for bioengineering or mechanical/process engineering roles in large plants, I knew this wasn’t where my passion lay.

    Like many of my colleagues, KX’s parent company, First Derivatives was a household name on campus, and when a friend showed me an open role, it seemed like a great opportunity to apply my technical thinking across different industries. I also liked the idea of getting to work on a variety of projects for some of the world’s leading financial, automotive, energy and telco institutions. Furthermore, it also gave the opportunity to try out a range of projects to discover what I enjoyed without being pigeonholed early on in my career.

    Did you always want to work in the tech industry?

    The first two years of my undergraduate degree were un-denominated so I got a feel early on for other engineering disciplines like civil, electrical and software engineering too. I still remember my first day in a computer programming lecture when I looked over at a classmate and they had their terminal open, showing off some code – my mind was blown! That was my first time realising what computer programming was at the ripe age of 18.

    Despite my late exposure to it, one of my favorite things throughout my degree was learning various programming languages, so much so that I ended up using a combination of programming and mechatronics for my thesis project in my master’s degree. So, I guess you could say, I caught the programming bug, and the tech industry seemed like the next logical step.

    What’s your favorite part about your work?

    My intrigue with different programming languages continues to this day, I love working with a wide range of protocols and languages to realize new solutions. In fact, whilst working as a front office kdb+ developer at a Tier-1 investment bank, I helped transform their data-visualisation platform. It is projects like these where I can implement my technical skills and can see the radical improvements it makes for clients that is really exciting.

    In addition, as my role as Evangelism Training Manager, I spend a lot of time with clients and prospects, educating them on all things KX, either helping them to get started (q’bies) with the technology or help current users get the most from their kdb+ applications. It is great having the opportunity to speak with our customers in this way, and show them how they can continue to harness the power of the technology to solve real business problems.

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

    Just go for it! The possibilities are endless and opportunities are ever evolving and changing. As a developer there is always the option of learning a new language and upskilling yourself. There is always something new to learn and that keeps things interesting and challenging.

    How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?

    If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that better use of data can benefit humanity and this is true from the trivial - serving us more relevant adverts when we search on-line - to the serious such as modelling climate change data to predict impact on populations and everything in between. Platforms such as KX are playing a key role in enabling the rapid analysis of data allowing organisations both private and public to make faster, more informed decisions.

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

    The move to cloud has been the biggest change to the way we work that I have seen. In my last project, where I worked as a front office developer for a top tier investment bank, everything was hosted on-prem so I experienced firsthand the overhead and amount of steps involved in deployment. Working more recently on cloud-based projects I have particularly enjoyed the faster deployment times.

    The race to the cloud certainly is on. This is something we really noticed within our customer base – they wanted access to their data and analytics without the associated compute and storage infrastructure costs. It’s something we’ve prioritized in KX, with the release of our cloud-first streaming analytics platform, KX Insights. Indeed, by moving to the cloud it appears firms can improve operational performance and drive competitive differentiation. Being able to provision a temporary environment solely to deploy and test changes on your application feels revolutionary!

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    I love my wireless earphones. Whether to escape with my favourite music or transport me on a journey with the author of an audiobook, I would find it very difficult to go back to a life with their wired equivalents!

    Read more about our Tech Trailbazers on Sync NI here. Find out more about Northern Ireland's latest tech job opportunities on our Jobs page here. 

    KX provides real-time streaming analytics software, and is a part of FD Technologies,  a global technology provider with 20 years of experience working with some of the world’s largest institutions. Find out more about KX here.

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