Zero Dependency: the end of technology supplier lock-in
Supplier dependency has been a norm in technology consulting for too long. We explore how organisations can set themselves free with Zero Dependency.
As a people-focused business, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and promoting equality of opportunity for all and are keen to actively join in and keep the conversations going around how we can best achieve this.
As part of that, we ran a webinar in honour of Pride month. The topic was on what employers can do to show up for all employees every day, rather than just in June for the month of Pride.
The panel was led by our Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Maya Sargent, who was joined by our guest panellists Nathan Nalla, Founder & Director of Be The Riot and Stefania Chaplin, EMEA Solution Architect at Secure Code Warrior.
We’ve put together some of the highlights from the webinar below.
What is rainbow washing?
In its essence, rainbow washing is when a rainbow is added to the usual imagery of an individual, company, or corporation, in the hope that they are deemed allies to the LGBTQ+ community without working towards making a real change. In the business world, this is usually seen as companies using Pride month to colour their logos with the Pride flag whilst doing nothing with regards to making changes to their company culture and/or policies that would better the LGBTQ+ community within their current and future workforce.
What is Pride Month?
Pride is a month (June) dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. It’s about the acceptance, equality, education in LGBTQ+ history, celebrating the work of LGBTQ+ people, and raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Whilst progress has been made, there are still many challenges today that the community face and companies need to take time to listen and learn before jumping on the bandwagon and putting up the pride flag.
“I find with Pride, it’s an opportunity to be myself, which I wish I could do all year round.” Stefania Chaplin, EMEA Solution Architect at Secure Code Warrior
An interview with Billy D'Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications
We talk to Billy D'Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications, to learn how he's leading his teams through the biggest project in Transport for London's history.
A day in the life of a Tecknuovo associate: Paul Hammond
We sat down with one of our associates, Paul Hammond, to talk about his experience working as a Quality Assurance Lead on-site with one of our customers. He shares how his work helped their teams tackle major financial challenges through data-powered monitoring. He also sheds a light on why working with Tecknuovo is a world apart from conventional consulting — thanks to community-based support, access to new and exciting projects, continuous learning on the job, and more.
For a taste of Paul’s role, how he worked with his team and the wider community, and life as a Tecknuovo associate, read our Q&A!
How to buy on the Digital Specialists and Programmes framework
Digital Specialists and Programmes (DSP) is one of Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) frameworks that let public sector organisations access trusted technology suppliers who can help them gain maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services.
The DSP framework offers:
End-to-end digital transformation programmes (Lot 1– Digital Programmes)
Digital, Data and Technology roles (Lot 2 – Digital Specialists)
Tecknuovo is a listed supplier on both Lot 1 and Lot 2. On Lot 1 and Lot 2, you can buy from us using a single or two-stage competition. Lot 2 also offers a simpler way to procure from us through direct award. This is a great way to save a substantial chunk of time in the procurement process, and can help you get the work up and running and serving your objectives much faster.
You can find out more about our appointment to the framework in our press release.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the seven steps you’ll need to take if you want to engage with us on the DSP framework.
The evolution of Zero Dependency
We developed the Zero Dependency framework through our work with four customers. They each had unique challenges but one wish in common: to independently manage and own the technology that powers their business success. This is the evolution of Zero Dependency.
A product is as good as its product team
If asked “how good is your product?”, what would you answer? Chances are you’d quote numbers, share customer feedback, or detail an amazing growth journey.
But how often, when asked this question, did you mention the team who created the product? Personally, I’ve done this only once. After publishing my first video game I was full of joy, and calling out my team’s fantastic work was how I expressed my gratitude. Video games and movies are unusual in celebrating the work of their product teams with a credit section – something I’ve always appreciated.
There are two types of teams. Delivery/feature/project teams are all about output. They work from a prioritised list of features in a roadmap that’s been prioritised by a stakeholder or executive. Product teams, by contrast, are focused on outcomes, and work with customers to co-create solutions and opportunities that deliver value for the customer and work for the business. In a product team, deep knowledge of the customer, data, the business and the market are essential.
Deliberately Different: Tecknuovo's values
"What gets me excited about our values? Most companies' values are meaningless as they don’t actually form part of their day-to-day practices. They aren’t sense checked or validated. We‘re different. Our values are genuinely integrated into everything we do — every day and for every interaction. We regularly challenge, review and update them to ensure they reflect our reality. They are inherent in everything we do and everything we say. This authenticity is vital."
- Wayne Palmer, People and Operations Director, Tecknuovo
A reinvented future in technology consulting with Mike Potter
A look at how Tecknuovo will continue to disrupt the technology consulting space with new Chief Strategy Officer, Mike Potter.
Mike Potter to lead Tecknuovo's strategic direction
Mike Potter has been announced as Chief Strategy Officer at Tecknuovo. This press release details his appointment and future leadership at the company.
Fast vs Complex
Recently I've been reflecting on some of the services I've built and run at the enterprise level. In particular, I've been thinking about how the performance to the end-user hasn't really changed in the last 20 years (yes, I'm old).
Trusted supplier for the public sector
Tecknuovo has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) new Digital Specialists & Programmes (DSP) framework, which went live on 21 March 2022 and will run for two years.
CCS supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. The appointment comes at a critical time — in a changing world impacted by Covid-19, Brexit, carbon net targets and more, demand for quality services and financial strain on the sector have never been more pressing. This mix of fortunes means it’s critical for these organisations to have access to a network of quality-assured suppliers that can help them close the digital skills gaps and modernise their services. The DSP framework sets out to provide just that.
Thames Water: 2022 CIO 100 Awards Winner
Foundry’s CIO publication has named Thames Water a winner of its 2022 CIO 100 Awards. This annual programme recognises digital transformation projects at organisations across the globe that exemplify what it means to deliver business value through the innovative use of technology. Executives from the winning companies will be recognised at the CIO 100 Symposium & Awards on 15-17 August 2022.
Thames Water was listed for its outstanding work on a wholesale digital transformation programme. It involves a move from legacy on-premises infrastructure to modern cloud platforms and a strategic shift to data-driven customer experience (CX).
Disruptor technology consultancy Tecknuovo has played a key part in that transformation. Tecknuovo CEO Gus Sargent notes:
It’s been fantastic working with Thames Water to help bring them to the forefront of customer experience in their industry, and equally great to see our work recognised on a global level at the CIO 100 Awards.
Mike Potter, the Group CIO who presided over large parts of the project, believes that delivering transformation work in public life is about more than technology. He comments:
It gives you the opportunity to help those who are underserved – whether they’re people who need organ transplants, or those who need a tax system that will enable them to lead less stressful lives. I joined Thames Water during a crunch point for natural resources globally, and we needed to fundamentally transform to safeguard a critical service for our customers. To do that, we had to go far beyond a cosmetic transformation. That meant changing how we tap into huge volumes of data to make better decisions about how we operate and maintain our network. And it meant radically improving our offering on the customer experience front.
A critical part of Thames Water’s CX transformation was its ‘next generation contact centre’ (NGCC), designed and delivered by Mike Potter’s team, using multiple partners. Tecknuovo was one of the critical contributors. The project helped future-proof Thames Water for key business events such as billing and unprecedented weather. These events unleash soaring demand for customer service, and the work has been critical for helping Thames Water continue serving its customers during these times.
To learn more about how Tecknuovo helped Thames Water on their journey to becoming a CX leader, read the customer story here.
Change Agent: Derek McManus
Derek developed an expertise with transformation during his lengthy career in one of the world’s most dynamic and innovative business sectors. “I’m an engineer at heart,” he says, “with 37 years of experience in telecoms – including 34 in mobile. Along the way, I’ve seen lots of evolution.”
The importance of being discovery-driven
In a fast-changing and uncertain world, we need to stop assuming that we have all the answers. Arguing about being right or creating detailed five-year plans isn’t very useful when we know that change is certain.
Deliberately different, by design: the Tecknuovo growth story
Zero Dependency is a clean break from traditional technology consulting that gives you full ownership of your solutions, people and processes.
Growing our leadership team in 2022
To speed us along our journey we have welcomed many new faces to the team in 2022, and among those new hires are the amazingly talented individuals who have joined our leadership team.
A transformative career: Mike Potter
Creating a future-proofed next generation call centre
We worked with Thames Water to revolutionise the user experience and capacity of their contact centre.
Challenging bias in the workplace
Despite increased awareness regarding the lack of gender diversity within the tech industry, it continues to remain a critical issue. It is encouraging to see companies beginning to take the lead with initiatives and programmes aimed at closing the gender gap, but more must be done to drive lasting change.
Having taken part in a recent Tecknuovo panel, Women in Tech: Challenging Bias in the Workplace, I was prompted to think about the advancement of women within my field. In my early career, tech was almost exclusively male. Now, in my leadership role at Tecknuovo – surrounded by equally senior female colleagues – I realise that while strides have been made, my personal experience might not mirror society and that women's leadership in this industry remains a rarity. My thoughts recently have been drawn back to that panel conversation I shared with female industry peers and the question “Why is greater female representation necessary for tech?”
Technology is rapidly shaping our world and despite years of progress towards workplace equality, women and minorities remain heavily underrepresented in the technology space. As large-scale transformations continue to dominate the digital world and societal demand forces companies to become increasingly more innovative, greater representation of women in technology is more vital than ever. To create truly disruptive technology in the ever-evolving digital space, businesses must go beyond the tech alone, and embrace the people that are driving the change. There is a major cost associated with a lack of gender diversity, both for individual companies and the industry as a whole.
Technology must truly reflect the demands of the society to which it belongs. The tech industry exists to meet the needs of people, and it is unlikely that diverse needs will be represented if women are absent from its core. There is no doubt that having more women in positions of leadership and hands-on IT involvement is beneficial for business. Women account for half of the purchasing demographic for most businesses and households and having a limited number of women in top positions leaves valuable insights untapped. Simply put, diversity is a competitive business advantage.
It has been seen repeatedly, organisations that embrace diversity in the workplace are more effective than those that do not. A diverse team challenges thinking and creates a dynamic environment where creativity can flourish. Gender diverse teams are more innovative. It has been consistently demonstrated across sectors that higher levels of diversity have a positive correlation with higher financial performance, and technology is no exception.
Providing active role models and removing barriers at a young age is key to inspiring the next generation of women to pursue careers in tech. There are great initiatives that highlight the success stories of women innovators - we must celebrate more of these successes if we are serious about implementing change and ensuring that companies like Tecknuovo become the majority, not the minority.
Tecknuovo’s Thames walk for War Child
Visit our Just Giving Page
War Child & Afghanistan:
Earlier this year, we announced War Child as our first official charity partner. War Child works to protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children living in war zones. They have been working in Afghanistan since 2002, but following the recent regime change has launched a specific Afghanistan appeal. Despite the instability in the country, War Child has remained on the ground, working against the clock to provide safety. More than 400,000 people are presently displaced with food insecurity reaching emergency levels. An estimated 3.5 million people in Afghanistan requite urgent humanitarian assistance, in which more than half are children.
What Tecknuovo is doing:
We want to do more than just donate money. We wanted to create a company-wide initiative that would engage the entire organisation. On the 29th of October, a large number of the Tecknuovo team are planning to walk 25k across London, whatever the weather! Starting at our HQ and walking along the west bank of the river into Central London. Our aim is to raise £5,000 to support War Child’s work in Afghanistan.
[caption id="attachment_4216" align="alignleft" width="352"] Photo: Ash Alexander-Cooper OBE[/caption]
As part of our effort to better understand the impact of the funds raised, we will be inviting Ash Alexander-Cooper OBE to speak with the Tecknuovo team. During his 7 years of deployment, Ash led elite forces in some of the world’s most complex and hostile environments, having first-hand experience with the value of donations like these. Ash is currently directly involved in the rescue operations occurring in Afghanistan.
If you would like to join us in our efforts to support Afghanistan, please visit our Just Giving Page. Individually we can all make a difference, but as a company we hope that a collective effort helps us to collectively raise more.
Thames Water Raft Race 2021
Thames Water Raft Race 2021
Several Tecknuovo members took part in the exciting Thames Water Raft Race last Thursday, September 23rd, to benefit WaterAid. The thrilling event challenges teams of six to build a raft and race down the River Thames. The annual event, which has been running for over twenty-two years, was sadly cancelled last year due to Covid but returned this year with a splash. Participants dressed in fancy dress competed in a fun obstacles course ahead of setting off on their rafts. This year’s race theme “Superheroes” honoured all the UK’s key-workers who’ve worked tirelessly through the pandemic.
Tecknuovo is proud to have supported the digital raft, led by Graham Lunt, and our very own delivery analyst Sebastian Crookall-Nixon joined the team rowing the raft in the race. The team dressed as Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised £33m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden. Each raft was tasked with fundraising for WaterAid, with a prize awarded for most money raised. As a company we donated £750 towards our raft’s fundraising target. We are honoured to have participated in such a fun event and support a charity with a great message.
[caption id="attachment_4128" align="aligncenter" width="627"] The digital raft setting off down the River Thames.[/caption]
“Being a part of such a fantastic event that supports a great cause is always a treat. We spend so much time remotely communicating with Stakeholders and our Associates and to have the opportunity to come together in person, strengthening those relationships, along with enjoying a fun day of activities to raise money for charity is so rewarding.” Sebastian Crookall_-Nixon_, Delivery Analyst
[caption id="attachment_4127" align="aligncenter" width="521"] A quick on land test run before hitting the water.[/caption]
How our donations will help
Through the money raised, WaterAid, an international not-for-profit can continue to provide millions of people in the most vulnerable areas of the world access to clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. These changes, enable entire communities to unlock their potential, break free from poverty and change their lives for good. WaterAid also works alongside governments to make instrumental legislative changes and link policymakers with people on the ground, ensuring lasting change to happen on a massive scale.
Through its partnership with Water Aid, Thames Water has raised more than £1.3 million to improve access to clean water for disadvantaged communities in Malawi as part of their recent Thames Love Malawi project. In total, the company has donated more than £40 million to Water Aid since the charity was founded in 1981.
Modern methods of delivery
I have been passionate about and working with agile methodologies for 10 years, and it’s this enthusiasm that I bring to my role as Head of Delivery at Tecknuovo. I’ve worked with clients in the private and public sectors to adopt agile ways of working and support a culture change.
What I’ve learnt? One size does not fit all.
When embarking on a digital transformation journey, it’s been acknowledged that it’s not only the technology, but also the people and process that need to change to digitally transform organisations and the products they deliver. Agile has a lot to offer but organisations need much more to succeed.
So, how can we, as agile practitioners and people responsible for change, go about choosing the right method that suits our context, our team and product that we’re building?
The answer isn’t simple, and it depends on a few factors.
Every organisation faces different challenges and has different needs. Based on my experience, the most common challenges are:
Legacy systems and dependencies on suppliers
Skills gap e.g. DevOps skills and capabilities
Lack of product and/or service mindset
Processes and governance that conflict with how delivery teams operate
Lack of senior leadership support and buy-in
Therefore, an approach we need to follow should be based on values and principles rather than be prescribed by a method or framework we decide to adopt. Our delivery model should be adaptive, modular and method-agnostic so that we can practice agility and embrace its principles: collaboration with customers and users, iterative value delivery, transparency, experimentation or continuous improvement at every level.
We want the new ways of thinking, working and patterns (specific to our context) to emerge so that we can fully benefit from agile methods and embrace change.
When changing our behaviour and culture, we also need to apply human-centred design that puts people at the heart of everything we do. This starts with customers and/or users, through stakeholders, employees and other parties involved.
I’m going to be covering all of this in my talk at the “Agile, DevOps and Testing: New directions in methods and tools” conference organised by UNICOM. Come and join me for my talk where I am going to propose an approach that will help the new practices and ways of working emerge in any organisation or delivery team. This talk will delve into modern methods of delivery that I believe every organisation would benefit from without becoming dependent on one prescribed solution.
Come along and join me on 15th July at 12:40 BST.
Cloud architecture is not "click 'n go"
Hi- I'm Alex Manning, Technology Director at Tecknuovo and I've spent the last 20+ years getting lots of scars by helping people fix pretty thorny technology issues. I'm one of those idiots people who run towards problems and have had to deal with bigger and more interesting (scarier?) challenges as my career has progressed.
Some of the highlights include dealing with scalability issues on payments platforms processing over £70bn worth of transactions on peak days for a high street bank, migrating one of the UK's largest mobile banking platforms to alleviate outages that would appear on Sky News, as well as building, managing, migrating, and rescuing services of all shapes and sizes!
These (and hopefully more in the future) are reflections on cloud-based platforms I have seen over the past 5ish years, and common themes I see emerging based on personal experience.
I've been fortunate enough to have been able to get quite a lot of first-hand experience with cloud-based platforms over the past few years – using both private and public services – from bare metal startups to blue chip enterprise level implementations.
One common theme from all of these – no matter what services, platform type, or size organisation – is that all of the clients I have spoken to have underestimated the need for planning and building your infrastructure layer, or the "plumbing". This covers all of the tools, services, and processes required to run your platform efficiently including the mundane things like cost management (apologies in advance to any finance people).
It should also be said that the majority of the companies where I have seen these implementations were relatively new to the cloud and the services offered. In almost every single instance, the architecture function had a good working knowledge of the services available and how to consume them at the application layer. However, there was little to no understanding of how any of the Infra-type services worked, or the need to actually design and implement them like any other critical service.
As a consequence, all of the implementations I have seen suffered from a large amount of debt causing wider issues that many senior leaders did not understand, including;
Women in tech: Challenging bias in the workplace
On Thursday 18th March 2021, we hosted a panel on challenging bias in the workplace with our very own Maya Sargent, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Maya was joined by our guest panellists Ashley Ferry, Head of Product at AllBright; Erin Gray, Scrum Master at Tecknuovo; Kelly Richards, Senior Product and Delivery Manager at Soho House; and Sonia Krishnan, Bid Manager at Tecknuovo.
It was a fantastic event where the panel discussed everything from their own careers, challenging bias in the tech industry, imposter syndrome, juggling childcare whilst working, to how companies can adapt, address and ally themselves to the key challenges women face in the workplace. For anyone that missed the event, we’ve put together the highlights below.
How the tech industry has changed
Tech used to be a boys’ club, but the industry is making progress, albeit slowly. Today there are many different resources available including Women of Silicon Valley, Ada’s List, policies like the mandatory pay gap reporting, various funding’s for female-led-start-ups and of course, awareness-raising talks such as this one.
“I can definitely see a shift. But for it to continue it needs to come from the top down, especially when it comes to supporting, training and making people aware of these types of roles.” Ashley Ferry, Head of Product, AllBright
Challenges and how to overcome them
Our panel shared insight on challenges they have faced as women working in tech, and how they overcame them:
Returning from maternity leave
A daunting time for many mothers and made harder if companies or managers aren’t supportive. You need to believe in your ability and be prepared to stand your ground, you shouldn’t have to re-prove yourself just because you’ve had a child.
Females often have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to be heard. To overcome microaggressions, have a clear and frank conversation with your leadership team or line manager. Align yourself with people in the business who can impact your career and show them you are there to be taken seriously.
Being the only woman in the room can leave you feeling out of place, questioning if you deserve to be there. Stop. Believe in yourself! You’re there for a reason and being you is enough.
“When you’re on the ground in the teams, they don’t look that different to what they did years ago but the vision is there, we just need to focus now on the strategies for getting to that point and seeing that real shift” Kelly Richards, Senior Product and Delivery Manager, Soho House
War Child: Peace Band
Peace Band Campaign
At the start of the year, we announced our special partnership with War Child as our first official charity partner.
We were delighted to kick start our partnership by taking part in their Peace Band campaign, aiming to walk the distance of the world (24,901 miles!) to raise money to go towards the work War Child do to support children growing up in conflict zones.
“Over the last year I have tried to get out at least once a day to go for a walk, even if it's just up and down the road. So when I was told that Tecknuovo were sponsoring our weekly walks to raise money for War Child, it was the motivation I needed to walk that extra 1km daily.” Louisa Gemmill, PMO Analyst
Hitting our target!
The Tecknuovo team have rallied together to walk, run, and generally move our way to gather the steps to hit our target. We are thrilled to share that not only did we hit it, but we exceeded and managed to achieve over 170% of our original target of 500 miles! A huge achievement for all those involved. Especially with the nationwide lockdown, it was a great motivation for the team to get up and move.
The campaign sparked an internal competition with some employees travelling over 200km over the six weeks, determined not to let the cabin fever get to them and take advantage of the beautiful views London has to offer.
“I have always enjoyed walking, so it’s been great to be able to get out and walk to raise money for War Child. With everything going on in the world it’s important to help others.” Vicky Medlycott, Head of Operations and HR
How our steps and donations will help
Through the money raised, War Child can continue their transformational work with children in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the ongoing conflict has left thousands of people with no financial security, and limited access to the food they need for their families to survive. As a result, thousands of children have no choice but to leave their education, their families and their homes in search of work. By taking part in Peace Band we are able to support these children by enabling them to reunite with families, provide catch-up education classes, apprenticeships and cash grants to them and their families.
The Tecknuovo team has enjoyed getting involved with such an important cause and are looking forward to supporting War Child further throughout the year.
“It’s no secret that lockdown has put a strain on everyone in various ways. For War Child to put together this fantastic initiative of Peace Band, giving us all that little extra nudge to get outside, stretch our legs and breath some mental fresh air, has been awesome. I’m really proud of what we have achieved, not just as a company but on the whole as a community.” Seb Crookall-Nixon, Senior Delivery Analyst
Surviving technical interviews
Surviving technical interviews
Following an invitation to take part in the University of Reading’s Science and Health week we've pulled together a piece with the aim of helping students embarking on their tech journey. With upskilling at the core of our values as a consultancy, we've drawn on our internal expertise and personal experience from associates, to provide top tips in what we look for in candidates. I hope the below helps you in landing your dream role and surviving technical interviews.
May the odds be ever in your favour
There's no avoiding it, interviewing, in general, can be difficult. We all know it and despite how much you prep for an interview sometimes, the odds are just not in your favour that day. Whether you get a difficult interviewer, or your mind goes blank on the processes you revised so hard for in advance, below are a few tips on how to survive a technical interview.
What are technical interviews?
Technical interviews allow prospective employers to assess candidates' technical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They usually involve some kind of timed brain teaser or technical assessment problem like whiteboarding or, more commonly, pair programming. Not only does this sort of task give the interviewer an idea of how you would approach a problem, but it also gives them insight into your wider understanding of the discipline context, your soft skills, and what it would be like to work with you. It used to be very typical for companies to conduct these interviews face-to-face, but with the current climate (the dreaded COVID-19) the likelihood is your interview will be virtual, which brings with it both benefits and challenges.
Why are technical interviews used and when?
Companies, like ours, tend to use technical interviews to assess the way in which a candidate approaches the problem at hand. It is less about arriving at the correct answer but more about the methodology used. That’s right, the wrong conclusion doesn’t mean all is lost! A typical interview process looks something like this:
Initial talent screening
Final interview with senior stakeholder
How to succeed in a technical interview
So now you know what one is and when it is used, how do you ace your technical interview? There are several different techniques and things we look for here at Tecknuovo which can help you.
Review the fundamentals Review the basic applications of your field, you don’t want to be caught out. For example, if you specialise in Python, review the most recent/relevant updated version of the language and frameworks and think about how you would approach technical issues within each version.
Full communication When talking through how you would solve a problem, make sure you talk through your thought processes and give the interviewer a full overview of how you would work around the problem you have been set. Think in real-time and address where you would look to team members for support, if at all.
If something seems obvious say it anyway Some of the questions asked will have parts to them where they will be looking for the candidate's attitude to tackling a problem as well as the solution itself. Ask questions if you are unsure of what has been asked. It’s always best to clarify than assume.
Confirm your response “Did that answer your question?” “Would you like me to elaborate more on that” If you are explaining a complex scenario then it is understandable that you might have skipped over something in your answer, asking the interviewer this kind of question opens the door more freely for them to ask for clarification on any of the points you have made.
Show your personality As much as you can prepare technically, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into the interview and ensure you get across the type of individual and worker you are.
“As an interviewer, technical interviews are a fantastic opportunity to understand the personality of the applicant. You learn a lot more from watching them tackle a problem than you do from talking to them about their experience or reading their CV. My advice to students approaching their first interview is not to panic! Ask for clarification if you need it and remember that we’re not here to intentionally trip you up, we want to see how you would fit in with the rest of the team.” Rifaht Sarwar, Senior Business Analyst, Tecknuovo
Calvin Dickinson, Head of Talent Acquisition
I always welcome feedback on what we’re doing, if you’d like to know more please contact me below, I’d love to hear your experience and opinion!
Contact | Connect on LinkedIn
Tecknuovo partner with War Child
Tecknuovo announces a special partnership with the child protection organisation War Child UK – kicking off with the step-challenge, Peace Band.
Tecknuovo and War Child UK today announce their partnership, with War Child appointed as the first official charity partner of the digital transformation company.
War Child’s mission is to protect, educate, and stand up for the rights of children caught up in war and conflict. War Child work across some of the most fragile contexts across Africa and the Middle East in; Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. With over 27 years’ experience, War Child aims to reach children as early as possible in the cycle of conflict and stay on to support them.
With years of on-going support, Tecknuovo have committed their long-term support for the charity through an official charity partnership. The partnership begins in January 2021 – with War Child’s ‘Peace Band’ campaign kicking off the many activities and strategic projects the Tecknuovo team have planned to support. Peace Band is War Child’s first step-challenge campaign, aiming to inspire the UK public to cover the distance of the world in aid of War Child. The Tecknuovo team are one of the first corporate teams to pledge their support – where they can walk, wheel, run, climb, skip, or play football to get their steps in for the campaign.
Tecknuovo first began working with War Child through their ‘Donate your Day’ and ‘World Kindness Day’ initiatives. Tecknuovo have a growing history of supporting children worst affected by conflict. Throughout 2020, the War Child team have had Tecknuovo’s help and support, donating to their Coronavirus Crisis Appeal. This support was crucial in allowing the War Child teams in-country to adapt and continue their important work for children in war zones, where COVID-19 became an unprecedented added burden to many. Tecknuovo’s generous donations throughout 2020 went towards enabling War Child to deliver emergency cash assistance for 166 families whose income had disappeared overnight as a result of COVID-19 lockdown measures. With this cash assistance, families could buy essential lifesaving supplies such as food, water, and medicine. It also allowed War Child to distribute hygiene kits to families living in cramped conditions and camps to help manage the spread of COVID-19, and offer home education packs, toys and over the phone counselling to children unable to access school or support during lockdowns.
Gus Sargent, CEO of Tecknuovo said:
“We have long been supporters of War Child, taking part in their fundraising and educational events for almost as long as Tecknuovo has been running. With such a difficult year behind us, I am delighted that they are our charity partner for 2021 and that we can further support the fantastic work they do in countries across the world. With the majority of eyes naturally set on domestic concerns, this charity really does need our support not to forget the global impacts of this pandemic. I look forward to creating a closer connection between our two organisations.”
Hannah Hyde, Senior Partnerships Manager at War Child UK said:
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of Gus and the Tecknuovo team this year. After a very challenging 2020, it’s heartening to see our partnership formalised and built upon, and our forthcoming collaboration will make a huge difference to the children which War Child supports. We’re so excited to see what comes out of this long-term relationship, and we’re honoured to continue to work so closely with the Tecknuovo team."
For more information, please contact:
Kat Paines Head of Marketing and Community Tecknuovo email@example.com
Image provided by War Child UK.
An expert perspective with Luca Mezzalira
Following on from last months event, we were joined by Luca Mezzalira, VP of Architecture at DAZN, for our November Ask Me Anything event. The event took place over on our Teck Camp community Slack channel. At DAZN—a cloud-based sports video platform that offers content to a sizeable user base – Luca administers various OTT-centric issues involving governance, scalability and resilience. During his time at DAZN, he has gained accolades for revolutionising the scalability of frontend architectures with micro-frontends, increasing the efficiency of workflows, and delivering quality in products. His colleagues know him as an excellent communicator who believes in using an interactive approach for understanding and solving problems of varied scopes.
We were excited to have Luca join us for the evening and picked his brain on topics ranging from advice on how to prevent microservices and APIs from sprawling, the future of AI and Machine Learning, career and industry highlights, top tips on public speaking, and much more. We’ve put together this article to give an overview of the evening. Remember that you can view the entire transcript of the evening over on the Teck Camp Slack in the #ask-me-anything channel.
Microservices and APIs
It’s very easy for microservices and APIs to get out of control and you can find yourself with 100s of microservices all doing the same thing if you aren’t careful.
“To prevent this sprawl, you usually start with a plan that should be detailed enough for writing the first microservice. During the transition period towards this architecture, you will realise there are tools to build, wrong assumption made and sometimes code duplicated that can be abstracted in libraries. It’s part of the journey and depends what you are optimising for.”
Luca stressed the main challenge is in finding the right trade off and understanding why you are embracing the architecture. Once you know the why, this can guide you when making decisions.
The future of AI and Machine Learning
On looking to the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence, Luca saw the main challenge for the two technologies being the ability to make them accessible for a broader audience, not only the non-techies but also techies as well.
“They need to unwind the intrinsic complexity behind the practice, hide it for the masses and providing access to it for the experts.”
“I hope AI and ML would allow to enhance our day to day providing better and more accurate / relevant information for all of us. They will probably replace certain jobs, but I think their advent in the society will help in many ways. From pharmaceutic to entertainment industries, everyone will benefit for the evolution of these technologies.”
Having worked in the tech industry since 2014, with his expertise predominately in the solution architecture field, Luca has had an impressive career history across a number of different industries. Trying to pin down his favourite might be tricky, but he thoroughly enjoys his time in the media industry.
“We are in the middle of a transformation moving from cable providers to streaming and I don’t believe many people are lucky enough to see a profound change like this one in their own career.
I feel very lucky to be honest. The part I love the most is that there is still a lot to discover and learn, we are scratching the surface of what the capabilities are and what we can really do merging videos with the web platforms. It’s an incredibly exciting journey where there is still a lot to discover from a technical and product perspective.”
With still so much to discover, Luca hinted at which sports he believed would benefit from the merging of videos and the web platform:
“Esports as well traditional sports will benefit from this marriage, currently the experience is still a lean back one where people sit in front of a TV consuming their favourite sports. What if we can engage with them in different ways? What if we can create local communities like you do physically when you go to a football match. I think it’s doable and with the advent of AI and ML we can even enhance the users experience adding more relevant content for them from advertising to content produced by the community. We can really fill the empty spots with plenty of good content on different device”
It seems the possibilities are endless when you combine TV with the interactively brought by web technologies. We’ll certainly be watching this space to see the developments in the next couple years!
As well as being an expert in architecture, Luca is also a published writer with the second of his two books due out in 2021 (Link to book). He managed to tick off one from the bucket list with this project and fulfilled his dream to be published by O’Reilly.
“It’s really exciting being published. Of course, it is really hard writing them but it’s extremely rewarding when you finally can hold the book in your hands. Becoming an author for O’Reilly made me incredibly proud of the journey I've made.”
Some of us at Tecknuovo have been lucky enough to see Luca speak at events (pre-Covid-19) and so we were keen to ask him for his top tips on how to be a great public speaker.
“Practice, practice, practice! It’s key to present on something you are passionate about and find a meetup to talk at. Meetups are the best environment to practice at as they’re free, expectations aren’t as high as in conferences and you can find really interesting people who’ll provide good feedback.”
We’re all hoping it won’t be too long until we get to see Luca and our other favourite speakers in action again soon. Luca, like many others has taken to taking part in talks online these days and was happy to point us in the direction of his next few talks:
FrontEnd Con – Join an amazing tech conference to learn from the best frontend experts!
Building micro-frontends, O’Reilly Online Learning – Join expert Luca Mezzalira for a deep dive into micro-frontends.
From being an expert in his field, to writing books, to public speaking, it’s clear Luca isn’t afraid of hard work! If you want to discover more about this from Luca, make sure you check out the following sites for more impactful lessons on learning:
Want to learn more?
You can find the full Ask Me Anything with Luca Mezzalira on the Teck Camp Slack channel. It’s in the #ask-me-anything channel. You can register to be part of the Slack workspace here.
Thank you to all who took part in the Ask Me Anything with Luca Mezzalira! A huge thank you to Luca especially for taking the time out for us to ask him our unanswered questions. It was great to be able to pick his brain! You can follow Luca on Twitter, @lucamezzalira
An expert perspective with Brendan O'Leary
We had the first Ask Me Anything as Teck Camp on Thursday 22nd October, and what an event! Senior Developer Evangelist at GitLab and Cloud Native Computing Foundation Board Member, Brendan O’Leary joined us for an insightful evening. Brendan spends a lot of his time connecting with developers, contributing to open source projects, and sharing his work about cutting-edge technologies on conference panels, community events, in contributed articles, and in blogs. He has a passion for software development and iterating on processes just as quickly as we iterate on code. Working with customers to deliver value is what drives Brendan's passion for DevOps and smooth CI/CD implementation. Brendan has worked with a wide range of customers - from the nation's top healthcare institutions, to environmental services companies, to the Department of Defense. Outside of work, you'll find Brendan with one to four children hanging off of him at any given time. Or occasionally finding a moment alone to build something in his workshop.
Over the course of the evening Brendan let us pick his brain on topics such as how GitLab manages the sheer number of open source contributions, and best practices of learning how to learn. Remember that you can view the entire transcript of the evening over on the Teck Camp Slack in the #ask-me-anything channel.
The GitLab way of working
GitLab is the first single application for the DevSecOps lifestyle. On 22nd of every month, GitLab releases an update. We’d have been remiss if we didn’t ask Brendan about the latest one!
“One of the coolest things in 13.5 is actually a contribution not from GitLab engineers… I'm proud to say that every month we have literally hundreds of changes from people who don't work [at] GitLab.”
Being an open source community, GitLab lets its members contribute to what GitLab might look like in the future. This does mean however that there are a lot of helpful and insightful contributions from different sources. How can one go about collaborating so many different approaches?
“It can be challenging, but we've found that articulating clearly the principles that you are focused on as well as mid-and-long term vision are really really valuable in helping everyone both make and understand the decisions we have to make to ensure the teams are focused on the right things.”
Brendan also stressed the point of writing things down. Doing so allows you to take in the information whilst also understanding it and iterate on it.
Learning to learn
This topics is close to Brendan's heart. Learning to learn and accepting where you’re currently at on your learning journey is important to personal growth. He spoke at DevRelCon Earth this summer on the subject, focusing on the harsh knowledge divide that is often present within tech.
“All too often in tech it's a battle of who is "technical" and who is "not technical" and I just don't like that distinction. So I intentionally named that talk to say I am not technical if we're going to draw that line… I don't want folks who haven't learned to code or don't have a computer science degree or don't feel like an engineer to be discouraged from contributing to tech. As the whole world becomes more and more dependent on technology we should be doing everything we can to encourage a diversity of thought and experiences to be brought to bear on solving the world's hard problems.”
Brendan went on to point out that we are all technical. We all know a lot more about computers and technology than our grandparents did, simply because of exposure.
Personally, one of my favourite sections on Brendan O’Leary’s Developer Evangelism plan is the ‘Useless is not Worthless’ section. The section was inspired by Charlie Gerard, and it holds a very important message from Brendan:
“Finding a "reason" or an "idea" is often the hardest part of learning a technology. So "useless" ideas are not so useless if you are learning.”
If you want to discover more about this from Brendan, you should also check out his blog for more impactful lessons on learning.
Want to learn more?
You can find the full Ask Me Anything with Brendan O’Leary on the Teck Camp Slack channel. It’s in the #ask-me-anything channel. You can register to be part of the Slack workspace here.
Thank you to all who took part in the Ask Me Anything with Brendan O’Leary! A huge thank you to Brendan especially for taking the time out for us to ask him our unanswered questions. It was great to be able to pick his brain! You can follow Brendan on Twitter, @olearycrew.
Black History Month: How to be anti-racist in the workplace
“Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone”
– George Dei, Canadian Educator and Equity Advocate
Black History Month: Life impacting innovators
During this month we’ve published different articles to celebrate and educate for Black History Month. I’ve been interested in tech my whole life, be it coding mini-games or watching Worldwide Developers Conference with my Grandfather. Even my career has been focused around the tech community. But something I feel that we aren’t educated on enough – and I’m including myself in this – is Black tech innovators. Without the work of these incredible people, large areas of STEM wouldn’t be as we know them. And yet so few people have heard of them.
I’ve really enjoyed taking the opportunity to put together the following list of Black tech innovators that have made an amazing impact on the tech that's important to us.
Black tech innovators you may not have known about but should:
Gerald “Jerry” A. Lawson
If you’ve ever played a video game, be it on a PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo device, you have Gerald A. Lawson to thank. He was director of engineering and marketing for the video game division of Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1976, under his direction, they released the Fairchild Channel F. This gaming console allowed users to play different games on removable cartridges. Before Lawson, you could only play video games that were installed onto the machine already. Lawson’s idea sparked an international business by separating game from console. This revolutionised the gaming industry, shaping it into what it is today.
“The whole reason I did games was because people said, ‘You can’t do it.’ I’m one of the guys, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll turn around and do it.” - Gerald "Jerry" A. Lawson
Valerie Thomas' interest in pursuing science started aged eight when she read ‘The Boys First Book on Electronics’. In 1964, she began working for NASA as a data analyst, where she developed real-time computer data systems which supported satellite operations control centres. It was from this work that she managed the development of Landsat image processing data systems. Landsat is the longest running method of getting satellite imagery of Earth and is still used today.
In 1976, she started working on her illusion transmitter which she received a patent for in 1980. An illusion transmitter uses concave mirrors to create a 3D image that looks like it’s floating in front of the mirrors. NASA still uses this technical that is also used in surgery to better view the inside of patients. It’s also being used in research to create more effective 3D screens for television and video.
Find out about Thomas' experience working on the Landsat Program from the woman herself.
Marc Hannah was one of seven who founded Silicon Graphics, Inc (SGI) in 1982, which specialises in computer graphics technology. Through his work creating computer programmed such as Personal IRIS, Indigo, Indigo2 and Indy graphics, he was named the company’s principal scientist in 1986.
You might not recognise some of these programmes straight away, but you’ll definitely recognise what these programmes were used for. They were used to create effects in classic movies. It’s actually highly likely you’ve watched some! These movies include Jurassic Park, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunt for Red October, and Field of Dreams. George Lucas’ special effects company Industrial Light & Magic used SGI’s technology to create Terminator 2.
Dr Shirley Ann Jackson
Dr Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist. She is the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She’s conducted research in theoretical physics, solid-state and quantum physics, and optical physics. Not only that but Dr Jackson has been awarded 55 honorary doctoral degrees.
But something you might not know is the scientific research she conducted that resulted in the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fibre optics cables, caller ID and call waiting. This research was all done during her time at AT&T Bell Labs, now known as Nokia Bell Labs. Next time you know who’s on the other end of the line without answering the phone, you know who to thank.
"We need to go back to the discovery, to posing a question, to having a hypothesis and having kids know that they can discover the answers and can peel away a layer." - Dr Shirley Ann Jackson
Find out about the work that Dr Jackson is currently doing as president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the United States.
If you’ve found this article insightful or if you’ve learnt something, I encourage you to do more reading on forgotten Black tech innovators. You’d be amazed at the technologies you never realised were created by marginalised developers, scientists, and creators. I recommend following current Black tech innovators on Twitter to stay updated. You should also check out events and articles over on UKBlackTech, the diverse tech community for BAME in tech.
Black History Month: Black Valley
As part of our Black History Month lunch and learn series we were very happy to host the founder of Black Valley, Leke Sholuade, earlier this week. Leke started Black Valley to improve social mobility and the accessibility of working in the tech industry for the black community. Hearing from him about how as a company and as individuals we can work towards creating a more diverse, equal and inclusive industry was very insightful.
About Black Valley
Black Valley is an immersive mentoring programme dedicated to increasing equity in tech by working to improve the accessibility of careers in the tech industry to the Black community. The programme was set up to address the negative stereotypes around blackness, highlighted by events in America earlier this year. Leke felt that tech could play a role in helping to challenge those stereotypes by being made up of a more diverse group; having more positive representation at all levels of tech from founders, to product development, developers, venture capitalists, marketeers right through to how we interact and market products and services. Currently, Black Valley has secured 50 senior level tech professionals for the programme drawn from organisations including Tecknuovo, Lego Ventures, Hitachi, and many more.
“I wanted to move the conversation around race forward, by creating a space that allows Black Talents to thrive in tech, through working together with other experts within the tech industry who are also passionate about diversity and wanted to help address the issue.” – Leke Sholuade,
Having been an active mentor for the past 10 years, Leke wanted to create something that would help society work together to address the current racial issues faced by the Black community. He saw technology as a powerful tool, and one of the ways to move the conversation forward. The idea was to create an environment that champions Black talents and allows them to thrive in tech.
How the programme works
The eight-week programme covers four key development areas:
Mentoring – mentees have weekly one-hour sessions with their designated mentor.
Tech network access – each mentee has access to Black Valley’s wider network of 50 mentors.
Tech industry knowledge – each mentor shares their knowledge about how the industry works providing invaluable insight for each mentee.
Tech skills – as well as access to Black Valley’s own bespoke small group training sessions, each mentee is signposted to courses and pathways that help can them to develop their technical skills.
Drawing mentees from across the world including Nigeria, America, Zambia, the UK and Northern Ireland, the programme has had an incredible uptake despite only being launched in September 2020. Some of them are aspiring tech founders looking to attract investors, others have already started out and now want to scale up and some are looking to get started with a career in tech.
Tecknuovo is delighted to work with Black Valley on the continuing journey to creating a truly inclusive industry.
Kat Paines, Head of Marketing and Community
I always welcome feedback on what we're doing, if you’d like to reach out to talk more about our inclusive partnerships please contact me below.
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Black History Month: How to be an ally
It’s October already and after the year we’ve had so far, it’s important – now more than ever – that we acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month. I am proud that as a company, Tecknuovo sees the importance of celebrating Black history and raising awareness not only in this month but all year round. In Tecknuovo’s style of upskilling, throughout the month we have a series of lunch and learns for the office scheduled, and lots of resources being circulated for team members to take time to educate themselves on such a prevalent subject.
This article is the first in a series that we are publishing throughout October. Starting with the history of this important movement we will also be showcasing some of tech’s great Black innovators, shining a spotlight on Black Valley – a community dedicated to increasing equity in tech – and finally learning more about how to be actively anti-racist in the workplace.
Black Lives Matter
Last week, I kicked off the sessions with an overview of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the history, how it affects us in the UK and shared personal stories of how my life has been affected because of the colour of my skin. Many are quick to dismiss the movement here in the UK; claiming it’s a US issue; they couldn’t be more wrong. Police brutality, workplace discrimination, white privilege, housing discrimination, institutional and systemic racism all takes place on our own doorstep. It's time to take ownership, acknowledge it exists, and take the necessary steps to begin the work to eradicate it. Below is some info and pointers on how you can become a good ‘ally’ to your friends, colleagues and family members that are BAME.
Where it began
There has always been a movement for Black rights, long before the BLM movement began. Although today it is heavily linked to police brutality, the movement was brought to life in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Activist Alicia Garza, like so many, was outraged and upset when she posted on social media “Black people I love you, I love us. Our lives matter, Black lives matter”. Patrisse Cullors reposted the final three words #BlackLivesMatter, inspiring Opal Tometi to create social media platforms and the website BlackLivesMatter.com, creating a space for Black activists to connect and talk to each other.
The UK is not innocent
There are significant parallels between the Black British experience and the African American experience. Whether it is the treatment of Black people by the police, the Windrush scandal, the British taxpayer repaying slave owners until 2015 for ‘loss of property’, or the fact that applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds have to send out 80% more applications to get a positive response from an employers than a white person of British origin (with the exact same qualifications & experience). The UK is far from innocent and the first step to being an ally is opening our eyes to discrimination faced by Black people in the UK.
Unless we are prepared to have a discussion about the impact of stereotypes and how they affect decisions that are made within organisations, we are not going to make any progress towards eradicating racism - Binna Kandola
How can I be a part of the movement?
There has been so much information and resources being shared on how to help the movement and be an ally to Black people; how to recognise and use your white privilege for good and generally educate yourselves on the current issues Black people are facing in the UK. Some ways to support require more effort than others but all are equally as important:
Personal reflection. Take time to analyse your own prejudices, contributions to racism, and relationships with Black people. What language or behaviours are you exhibiting that are problematic for Black people? Are you commenting on their hair, accents, and partaking in generalisations and stereotypes that play into the negative portrayal of Black people? These are called Microaggressions. Whilst your intention may not be to cause harm, they feed into making Black people feel excluded.
Sign petitions. This seems so simple and it really is, they take a couple of minutes, are free and they work. George Floyd’s killers were arrested thanks to all of the people that sign petitions.
Educate yourself. If you are not Black, one of the most important things you can do right now is to learn about the Black experience. White people are the dominant oppressive race and our socialisation means that we have only ever been exposed and privy to the White experience. If we truly want to do the work to eradicate racism we need to understand the systems of oppression and issues that affect black people. Read up on why people are protesting and more importantly – do not rely on your Black friends or family to teach you. Google is also free. Some resources include:
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
Natives – Akala
Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap (Netflix)
Time: The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix)
When They See Us (Netflix)
Sitting in Limbo (BBC)
Donating to causes that need funding. In the UK there are so many different charities and programmes you could donate to including the below:
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to inspire and enable them to succeed in a career of their choice
Stand up to Racism – campaigning for racial inequality
Green & Black Cross – provides legal support to protestors and activists
Milk & Honey – provides a safe space for young black females from disadvantaged backgrounds
Speak out. If you witness something which you think is problematic, whether that’s in the workplace, with friends or in the pub – say something. Hold your friends and organisations accountable. This is potentially the hardest one to do, no one wants to be seen as ‘problematic’. However, if you think it's hard to call someone out for their problematic views, imagine being on the receiving end of them. Being a good ally means standing up for what is right, even when it’s hard.
Listen. As well as speaking out, take some time to listen and absorb the stories and messages coming from the Black community.
Support Black creators and businesses. If you’d like to help at an individual level, the best way is to start by supporting Black people’s creative and business endeavours. Employ and promote Black people; buy their books, music or films; amplify their voices by sharing or retweeting; and buy from their shops, restaurants, cafés or bars. In the UK a member of Solid Crew started Black Pound Day. It encourages everyone to replace their usual purchases with products from Black-owned business once a month.
Keep listening and learning
Thank you for reading and your interest in being an ally to Black people. As an organisation we are striving to be a part of the change, committing attention and focussing our energy in the long-term capacity. We hope you will join us in that journey.
Lizzie Harvey, Marketing Manager
I always welcome feedback on what we're doing, if you’d like to reach out to talk about how Tecknuovo are working towards being an ally please contact me below.
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