A black and white headshot of a man smiling at the camera.
Pat Humphreys. Image: Dun & Bradstreet

Why continuous learning is vital in software development

14 Dec 2021

Technical architect Pat Humphreys discusses how he came to the world of tech and what he found most surprising about working in the industry.

Pat Humphreys is a technical architect for data and analytics company Dun & Bradstreet, having worked in software development for more than 15 years across different companies in the banking, fintech and data industries.

He has a degree in applied computing from the Limerick Institute of Technology, now part of the new Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, and a postgraduate diploma in information systems from TU Dublin.

Here, he discusses how he came to the world of tech, the traits that make him excel in his role and what those who want to follow in his footsteps need to know.

‘Technology itself is rarely the limiting factor when building software products’

What first stirred your interest in a career in software?

When we got our first computer in the mid-’90s, I was fascinated to understand how it worked and to learn what all the hype about the internet was. After multiple trips to get it repaired – mostly caused by me taking it apart or installing something – I finally started to learn how it worked and was able to repair it myself, to my parents’ relief. This was the beginning of what got me interested in the software itself and I never really stopped.

What were the biggest surprises you encountered on your career path?

I have found that the technology itself is rarely the limiting factor when building software products or the thing that determines how successful a product will be. When I was starting out, it seemed to be an insurmountable task to understand the various technologies and concepts and when to use them, due to the ever-changing nature of the industry.

As I gained more experience across different industries, it quickly became apparent that the more challenging aspect of software development is in fact understanding the problem the customer is trying to solve, their specific business domain and being able to guide them through the most appropriate technical solution.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

I have been fortunate to have worked with a lot of very talented people over the years with varied expertise from different professional backgrounds. This has allowed me to continually learn and think about problems differently.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I have always enjoyed understanding how things worked and solving problems. Due to Dun & Bradstreet’s position as a leading global provider of business decisioning data, my role allows me to do both those things for some of the largest organisations in the world.

This affords me the opportunity to be part of solving their most complex problems, while giving me exposure to the latest cutting-edge technologies.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I am analytical, detail orientated and always curious about how things work. I think the combination of these traits helps in software engineering and keeps pushing me to explore what’s new in the industry.

How did Dun & Bradstreet support you on your career path?

Dun & Bradstreet has continually provided me opportunities to grow my skills and develop new ones, which has allowed me to move across different products, business units and technologies.

There is regular access to formal training courses, attendance at conferences, deep dives with various tech vendors and time for learning new technologies.

In addition to this, I have various opportunities to present to C-level executives and work directly with a large array of our most important enterprise customers to help them with their more complex technical challenges.

This has aided me in progressing from a senior software engineer working on a specific task to my current role, where I work across a number of development teams and am responsible for designing large-scale solutions and vetting new technologies.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in tech?

The technology industry is one of the most rapidly evolving industries and you need to be continuously learning, as today’s hot technology will more than likely be irrelevant in five years. If you are starting out, prioritise a role and an organisation that will enable you to learn the most.

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