We first met Adrian when we asked our (then) recent hires what it was like to leave one job to start another at the very height of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Almost a year later (scary, huh), we’ve caught up with him again to learn more about how he got to where he is – and what drew him to a life as our Head of Engineering…

Tell us, what were you doing before Seccl?

I’ve been in or around tech for 20 years, since graduating in ‘98. I worked as a developer for both Panasonic and Sony, where I wrote software for set-top boxes and digital TVs – back when DTV was in its infancy. I then moved over to Motorola to work on automotive telematics, which we supplied to the likes of BMW, Aston Martin and Jaguar.

After a while I’d had enough of software development, and moved into roles more focused on process improvement and ‘developer experience’, both of which really interest me. I stayed in the mobile telecoms sector, first at Symbian (an old mobile OS that was acquired by Nokia), then at Orange, where I worked on developer evangelism with the team in France. 

Working closely with developers at Orange made me want to get technical again, so I hooked up with TechSpark, worked with plenty of startups as a result, and was most recently the CTO of compliance technology company W2 for four and half years.

What was it that excited you about Seccl?

I’m a values-driven person, and was looking for a company that aligned with my values. In particular, I like that Seccl’s not scared to try things and is always trying to innovate. 

Unlike some companies, Seccl really encourages me and Paul (our Head of Product, who thankfully has a similar attitude and outlook) to challenge the way things are done, and constantly iterate, experiment and evolve. We have the freedom and ability to challenge the norm, and that’s really refreshing.

What does your Head of Engineering role entail?

I’m responsible for building, nurturing and supporting our all-star team of front and back-end developers, QA testers and DevOps engineers. Collectively, our job is to develop the products and services that allow Seccl to fulfil its mission of rebuilding the infrastructure of investments and advice.

Day-to-day, that involves working closely with Paul to develop a combined product and engineering strategy, developing a culture and framework that allows our engineers to develop and grow, as well as plenty of recruitment!

I also look after the tech and security stuff that keeps us on the straight and narrow, and collaborate with colleagues in our Customer and Operations teams to make sure our products are living up to our expectations.

So, what does ‘Adrian outside of work’ look like? 

Apart from spending quality time with my lovely wife and in the garden, I really enjoy photography – in particular landscape and macro (super close up) photography. I think that’s probably because it matches what I do and enjoy day-to-day: I like to see the big picture but then also zoom into the minutiae. That’s pretty much the life of a Head of Engineering.

I also cook, but I don’t follow recipes, I just start with something and create on the fly. I went veggie in December 2019, and when you remove meat you really have to think about what to replace it with. It’s not that hard, but you realise just how much you rely on meat as the ‘star ingredient’.

You’ve got a ton of engineering experience. What advice do you have for those earlier in their career?

I think the main thing is to try and be really clear about what you want to do, and then demonstrate your passion for it. Knowledge is great, but you can always acquire more of it; passion is much harder to develop, so it’s important to work on things that genuinely excite you. 

And this one’s easy to say with hindsight… but try not to worry about getting knocked back. Everyone will face setbacks, but you’ll get there if you persevere and learn from your experiences.

This doesn’t apply just for those moving jobs, by the way. Sometimes doubt can creep in even when you’re advancing within your role, or rising the ranks at a company you know well. It’s quite easy at times, especially in senior roles, to suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’, so ensure you have people around you that you can rely on if you need some words of reassurance.

Finally, no matter how experienced you are, make sure to remain curious and adaptable. The feedback I got in my final year of high school from my engineering science teacher has stayed with me – he said “you’re one of the few in the class always asking ‘why?’ Don’t ever stop doing that.” It’s sort of become my personal mantra. 

If you think you’ve got the star ingredient, and are keen to work in a fast-paced, learning-focused environment, then check out a career here at Seccl!

Stuart Sheppard

Stuart’s responsible for Seccl’s brand and tone of voice. He enjoys crafting words that are (hopefully) clear, engaging and interesting – and using content to build a seamless, satisfying user experience. Got feedback or an idea? He’d love to hear from you.

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