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People at Figured: Eloise McIntyre - From Chemistry to Software Development Team Leader

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People at Figured: Eloise McIntyre - From Chemistry to Software Development Team Leader
By Chris McGeechan

Join us as we meet Eloise McIntyre - known to us as Elly - to discuss her journey from gaining a degree in chemistry to becoming one of our Software Development Team Leaders in just a few short years.

We sat down in our offices, facing out over the beautiful Auckland harbour, and were thankful to have the sun shining as we did. Our conversation went much further than we anticipated, so if you enjoy this read, you’ll be able to join us again soon, for a follow-up with Elly and her take on the Development culture at Figured.

So, chemistry to Software Dev, how did that happen?

Haha, hmm, so I studied chemistry at Uni, and completed my BSc, during which time, I'd interned for a large appliances manufacturer. I ended up working there straight after my degree for two years in research and development.

It was interesting, but I could see that I wasn't using my degree, and I wasn't sure where I was going to go from there.

Okay… so the R&D was interesting, but you didn’t see a career there. Why Development?

I wanted to broaden my horizons, but I didn't know what I wanted to do until I visited my flatmate’s office. She was a software engineer at Vend and I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, tech is the coolest thing ever!’ There were snacks and beanbags everywhere, a big open-plan office, and coffee machines everywhere. It was a million miles away from what I was used to.

That's when I started thinking about software and a career in Development. I had never considered it or written a line of code in my life. I had a preconception that the job was only for smarty pants, mathematicians and I dropped out of maths as early as I could during school!  But what I realised from visiting my flatmate's office that day, was that I'd like to try - it looked like a better work-life experience.


So you got drawn into a Dev lifestyle. How did you get ready for a Development career?

I did a fifteen-week boot camp at Inspiral Dev Academy. We had a very tight cohort, lots of teachers, and you're basically there for about twelve hours a day, learning web development from scratch.

I think a lot of people think of software as this, really algorithm-heavy, very mathy, thing, with no creative side to it., But web development, which is kind of a subclass of software development, is a lot more creative.

I also realised most of the people in software end up being web or app developers to some degree, and aren’t always the super math-heavy, algorithm smarty pants people. You get to be creative. You care about design and how people are using it, but you get to do some of the logic and databases, so it's a nice mix. 

Once you finished Boot Camp, how did you start with Figured?

A friend of mine, Dina, who worked at Figured in marketing at the time, referred me for an internship. I came in for an interview, met Richard (former Chief Product Officer) and Zainab (our Chief People Officer) and the head of development.

When you came into the office, did it have the snacks and the bean bags? 

Yeah, I remember walking in here and thinking, Oh, this is a really cool space!

How was the interview?

Well, on my way here, Dina messaged me saying, “uh, Richard just had another interview and I heard him say the candidate didn't even know what an MVC framework was”. She messaged me again saying, “Look, I don't know what an MVC framework is either, but you'd better look it up.” 

I was down the road freaking out and Googling everything I could about MVC frameworks. Turns out MVC is, one of the most common things in software development, which I know now, but didn’t back then as I was only halfway through boot camp - I was still very fresh.  

In the end, I didn't even get asked a single technical question. Interns don’t get asked technical questions. Richard had been interviewing somebody for a more senior Development role. So I freaked out for no reason.

Anyway, I got the internship and was given the chance to prove myself quite early on.

Elly, far left, on her first day at Figured as an intern in 2020.

Tell us more about that…

Not long after I started I was given quite a big project which was a major new release for Figured at the time. It was already 80% completed by our CPO - and I had to complete the final 20% and get all the testing done.

Sounds like a big deal…

Yeah, it was. I think that was my first sign that Figured was different to other companies. They were giving this high-profile task to an intern who had absolutely no experience. It was the kind of thing where you either sink or swim, so if you step up to that opportunity, you get recognised quickly and you keep getting tasks that will challenge you.

Is that something that Figured does a lot? 

Definitely. We always try to recognise when someone is completing work quickly and to a high level, particularly when they're new. It’s all about determining how quickly they are willing and able to learn.

Just the fact that Zac and I are both leading teams, having been interns at Figured, with only four and five years of experience, shows that Figured is all about your contribution - and I think that is awesome.

In a bigger company, you might have to go from intern to grad, grad to intermediate etc. and it takes a set number of years to progress regardless of how well you're doing. It's not like that at all at Figured.

If you want to go from junior to senior in a year, and you were showing that you could - you can do that. It's quite special.

IMG_1400From intern graduate to graduating interns; Elly's gone on to lead our developer intern programme.

When did you go from being a team member to a team leader? 

So I started full-time at the end of February 2020. Then we went into lockdown...

A year or two later our team lead resigned, so I put myself forward for it, despite feeling very out of my depth.

But, the company said yes, which I was blown away with. I'd only been here two and a half years. Luckily, the development team here is awesome!

What do you enjoy most about coming to work every day at Figured?

It's always the people for me. It's funny because if I look at my passions in life, the software might not be in the top five - that being said I love being good at my job and I have pride in my work. 

I couldn't work anywhere where I don't enjoy hanging out with the people I work with because you're here for the best waking hours of the week. I just couldn't handle doing that, even for all of the best tech-stack in the world and the best code in the world.

So, it's not the free food and beanbags which you originally came into the industry for? 

I mean, initially, I thought, oh yeah, cool vibe, free snacks and free lunch on Friday. But honestly, I really like the informal nature of things I just kick my shoes off every day, I walk around barefoot and I'm here for it!

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