Here at ADLIB we have the pleasure to be working with some incredibly talented individuals that call the South West tech sector their home. We caught up with two of our favourites to ask them about ‘key things’ they’ve learned as part of their professional journeys so far, we asked for some advice they could parcel up within a few key points – to pass on to fellow professionals within their area as well as the next generation of talent.

We had a chat with James Hobbs, Digital Development Lead at Dyson. James has worked at Dyson for five years and prior to that worked for a national charity, local government and various small businesses.

And we also caught up with Tom Metcalfe, Senior Web Developer at Proctor + Stevenson. Tom has worked with Drupal for six years at various agencies in Bristol and as a freelancer.

Here are their insights….

5 pieces of advice from James Hobbs:

  1. Be the first to stick your hand up. It’s helped me establish a reputation for getting things done, for being proactive, and for being someone who can be counted on. Over time, occasionally having to volunteer for the less glamorous stuff pays off!
  2. Keep pushing yourself. Keep up with technology – it’ll make you better at adapting to the unknown and more versatile, both very valuable qualities to an employer.
  3. Keep it maintainable. If you’re working as part of a team, nobody will thank you for trying to be clever or for optimising things prematurely to the point where they’re unreadable. Think of your teammates and keep it simple and maintainable.
  4. Think about the customer. The best developers I’ve worked with have always been able to put a pragmatic hat on and imagine the implications of their work on the end user. This is hugely important.
  5. Don’t be too serious all of the time. If you’re lucky enough to have a job where you get along with your colleagues, make sure you get away from your screens occasionally and have some fun!

5 pieces of advice from Tom Metcalfe:

  1. Ask why. As a developer you can often suggest things that haven’t been considered, improvements, simpler solutions, etc.
  2. Always be curious. Learn how things work and why they have been built the way they have. Within your own field go to conferences, see talks, listen to podcasts.
  3. In contrast, you don’t have to know everything. Sometimes you don’t have all the answers. Be honest about that. If you need to go and investigate something, do it. Everyone appreciates honesty.
  4. There is a time and a place for overtime. The last push to hit a deadline will be required now and again. However, if you are putting in a lot of consistent overtime that can easily result in burnout which helps no one.
  5. Finally, pay it back. In my job I work with Drupal which is an open-source CMS. I contribute back as much as I can with code and help organise the Bristol Drupal User Group and I’m on the organising committee for DrupalCamp Bristol (which ADLIB kindly sponsored last year). It’s coming back this year (shameless plug).

Thank you both very much for sharing!


Mike Harley