Getting to Know Andi

A coffee and a chinwag with our Company Director, Andi

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Getting to Know Andi, our Company Director

1.    What does a typical day at CSG look like for you?

As Director, every day can bring about something new, but I try to stick to a routine as much as possible, which helps my focus and productivity. Thanks to my kids I’ve been moulded into becoming a morning person, so I make an early start in the office most days. The first part of my day is probably the least glamorous but no less important part and involves reviewing and managing all the financial side of the business. 

From there, I chat to the team as they filter on in and have daily catch ups with the management team to provide clear direction and advice. Once a week we have a whole team huddle, where I update everyone on company news and developments but there are always project catch ups going on that I like to be involved in as well as planning workshops, business development meetings and not forgetting our monthly breakfast clubs. 

Whilst I no longer programme, I do provide technical lead for some of our projects.  Helping to make key decisions on tech stacks and to provide guidance for how challenges can be best overcome and how as a team we can work most effectively. I’m often involved in client facing meetings, whether that’s introducing new faces to the business or taking care of companies I’ve worked with for the past ten years or more.

I like to be in the detail but trust my team to take the reins too so that I can focus on developing our strategy and keep my eyes on the bigger picture. Behind the scenes I do a great deal of research on everything from sustainability ECG targets to tech trends and compliance as well as brushing up on my leadership skills. Every day is a school day! 

Leading a business there’s no such thing as a 9-5, I often take my work home and on holiday but try my upmost to have a healthy work life balance to spend time with my family, although Clever Software is my baby and never far from my mind. I'm always thinking about how we can evolve as a company while staying rooted and true to our core values. 

2.    What are you currently excited about at work?

Over the past two years, we’ve experienced huge growth. So, seeing the team taking shape, finding our feet and starting to work well together well is really exciting. I also love the range of projects that we’re working on, and being part of digital transformations. We're working with some fantastic local clients and producing innovative software products that are making the world of difference to our their business capabilities.

We’re constantly trying to create brilliant client experiences, to make the development process enjoyable and I always get excited when we receive glowing feedback from or clients that we’ve impressed and been a joy to work with. That kind of feedback will never get old; it’s always a thrill!

3.    What do you love about your job?

Creating and shaping a company that I’ve always wanted to work for. That I get to work with like-minded people and work with amazing tech tools every day. I love how tech has the power to make significant change to a business’ future. I also really enjoy seeing budding programmers rising through the ranks, growing in confidence and the fact that as a company we’ve been able to offer them that opportunity, feels awesome. 

4.    How long have you worked in the software development industry?

For as long as I can remember, about eighteen years now. I’m a self-taught software developer; I never studied programming in an official capacity at university nor as part of an apprenticeship. I started coding when I was still at school, and then whilst working in the corporate world I continued to pursue my passion, learning my craft from books. I had my head in the tome-style manuals, reading at every opportunity (that was before the days of Google having the answer to everything at your fingertips).

Since then, I’ve produced software as a freelance developer and then as part of a small team, before starting up my own company. It’s been a real whirlwind, a labour of love but totally worth it to be working in an industry that I am constantly fascinated by! 

5.    What first sparked your interest in becoming a software developer?

I’ve always loved data and tech, even when tech looked very different to how it does now. My love for computers started at a young age, way before I had one of my own. They were a different beast then, but I remember being in awe of what they could do and regularly buying computer magazines with money I’d earned from my paper round. 

Luckily for me, my secondary school maths teacher agreed to let me tinker away on one of the school’s BBC Microcomputers; I was as giddy as a kid who had found a golden ticket in their chocolate bar. I remember getting the greatest buzz from having actually managed to get my code to work. Even that maths teacher was taken aback that I was able to fix a problem he’d been having with Windows emulator. And just like that I was hooked!
 

6.    What personal qualities do you think helps you in your role?

Positivity is one of the top qualities. Don’t get me wrong, I have a little moan just like everyone, but by nature I have an optimistic outlook. It’s the problem solver in me. That way I am rarely fazed, am always focused on solutions to issues that arise and can provide motivation to my team.

I go against the grain of your typical Company Director as I consider myself to be an introverted leader. That’s not to say I’m a wallflower, but that I am considered, I listen, I observe, I reflect, I weigh up decisions thoughtfully and always think before I speak. The ability to empathise is really important in my role as is a tendency to stay calm under pressure and to think logically. I've been a developer, I've walked in those shoes so I get how it feels. Being curious, interested and engaged also helps me building relationships; I love finding out about people and what makes them tick.

7.    What’s your proudest achievement?

I’m endlessly proud that I followed my passion and took risks. It’s so important to love what you do. I always harboured an ambition to run a company (I first got a taste for it when I ran an in-demand tuck and stationery shop at school) and all these years later, I’m genuinely proud each day when I look round the office. It’s quite the responsibility being sole director, but I’m fortunate to be supported by a top team who together are creating an exciting place to work. Everytime I see people having a good laugh in the office, I get a buzz.

8.    What’s your favourite piece of tech you’ve ever owned?

Ah, it’s impossible to pick just one! I love game consoles and the smart wearable tech of today, which feeds my love of data, is mind-blowing. But I’ll always have a soft spot for my ZX Spectrum 48k. That was my first personal computer and the one that I first learnt to program on in BASIC. Lots of fond memories of playing Treasure Island Dizzy and waiting forever and a day for it to load.  

9.    What’s your dream way to spend your downtime?

When you run a business, switching off is no easy feat. Spending time with my two boys is a great distraction, they have boundless energy to keep me on my toes. In the last few years, I’ve found that focusing on my fitness really helps manage the mental load juggle and I try to get to the gym for a workout most days. I'm a thrillseeker at heart, an adrenaline junkie. A couple of years ago I also learned to ride a motorbike, which has been on my bucket list for yonks. Since then, I’ve got the biking bug and have taken part in track days all over the country as well as on the legendary Portimao track in Portugal earlier this year, which felt like an absolute dream!

10.    What’s a top piece of advice that you live by?

Never stop learning and seeking. Soak up knowledge and wisdom from your peers, your team, your mistakes, your bad days, your good days. I’m lucky to have an entrepreneurial spirit whereby I’m motivated by always learning, progressing and challenging myself. No one is the finished article, there’s always room for improvement. I’m forever setting myself new goals and I make it my business to keep on stepping out of my comfort zone and shooting for the moon. There’s always more to know and more ways to feel fulfilled; keep on keeping on. 

Thanks Andi for those brilliant insights. Sounds like you've got lots more exciting plans in store! Discover more about the history of Clever Software and Andi's beginnings as a young programmer here.

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