Rory Carroll, Storm Technology
Rory Carroll (left), software engineer at Storm Technology

When a passion for computer games becomes a viable career opportunity

22 Sep 2016

When you choose a career, what drives you? Is it the opportunities for growth? The salary? For some, it’s all about passion.

Rory Carroll, a software engineer at Storm Technology in Galway, fell in love with technology as a child. In adulthood, he has translated that love into a fully fledged career.

What drew you to this career area?

Since a young age, I’ve had an interest in, and passion for computers. I believe my first real computer was a Schneider Euro PC. I had to convince my father to pay £1,200 for it at the time, which was a lot of money back then. The operating system required a floppy disk to boot up every time. Tinkering and playing games on it was my hobby. It seemed the natural progression to apply for CAO courses in the computing field when I completed school.

What’s the best thing about working in tech?

Constant challenges. Technology is always evolving and this gives you an opportunity to work with new people and new development tools, with new problems to solve.

What’s the most exciting development you’ve witnessed in this sector since you started working in it?

Integrated development environments (IDEs) and library improvements.

I’ve recently been introduced to Angular. It’s very interesting and, only recently, Angular 2 has been released – a complete rebuild from the ground up. I’m looking forward to using Angular to improve the front-end experience on future projects.

What aspect of your job have you struggled to get to grips with?

I worked on a business-critical back-end for a few years.

Initially, this financial project was tricky to understand. The major problem I had was that this particular project went into support and maintenance mode after six months. The project got no further business investment for new features and I was tasked with maintaining the system. The project itself had a lot of business logic and any changes or bug fixes were extremely risky.

I found it frustrating working on an application that had minimum investment. Thankfully, the project is winding down and I’m getting the opportunity to be involved in more greenfield projects.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to face in your career?

Five years ago, I was supporting a claim application where bad data was introduced. The bad data was causing millions of dollars of duplicate rebates. The stress involved at the time was intense.

The business didn’t realise that the issue was occurring, which caused the data corruption issue to escalate. The duplicates were in multiple stages of the life cycle, with each stage requiring the data to be resolved.

The problem needed to be solved instantly, but it took a month before the situation was resolved. With the help of my colleagues, and with much hard work, we fixed the data and put in place a fix to ensure duplicates couldn’t be reintroduced.

If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?

Change is constant and nowhere more so than in the tech sector. For me, it seems practical to spend more time teaching primary and secondary school kids the value of logic and coding. I believe logic should be part of the primary school curriculum. Programming and logic should be a secondary school subject and be rewarded with bonus points similar to honours maths.

Which of your personality traits makes you best suited to your job at Storm Technology, and to this sector?

I am logical and love nothing more than completing puzzles. I can spend hours working on the solution to a problem. These traits are suited to the world of programming and solving business problems with technical solutions.

Is there something in your personal life that helps you in your job?

I have a passion for technology and computer games, so I’ll always have an interest in anything computer related.

How do you make connections with others in the STEM community?

In Storm Technology, we have a fantastic community of like-minded individuals. We even have our own sub-communities in our Yammer social media site, where we discuss technology and industry trends.

Has mentorship or coaching been important in your career?

Within Storm Technology, we work as a team. This month marks my 10th year here. Whenever I’m stuck on a programming task, there is always someone with the expertise to assist and guide me. This backup has been invaluable in my career.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in this area?

I believe the interest has to be there.

Beyond that, there is such a wealth of free information at your fingertips. Google has its Google+ communities and YouTube channels. Stack Overflow is fantastic at helping you out if you want to pick up a project. Udemy has a vast library of free courses, and Khan Academy even has its own computer programming section. On top of that, there are CoderDojos. The list is endless.

With the resources at your fingertips, developing your first nifty front-end application for the web or your phone, or both, has never been easier.

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