Read how Gareth completely changed his career in his mid-40s and transitioned his career into IT through the Ten10 Academy
The Ten10 Academy is a great way to begin a career in technology, no matter your background or level of prior experience. Gareth Liddell had worked for years in hospitality and finance, but wanted to change his career to follow his passion of IT. He joined our Ten10 Academy in 2022 and is now working on client projects across the UK.
We sat down with Gareth to ask him about his training and the skills he’s using every day in his new IT career.
Could you tell us about your career prior to joining Ten10?
I began my career in the consumer credit industry, interrogating data in a marketing support role and then as a retail operations manager at several financial services providers including Nedbank in South Africa. Upon immigrating to the UK in 2003 I joined Citi Bank Group and then the Leeds Building Society, again in retail operations management. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to found a successful property services business (Tenancy Transitions) and then manage the UK business of one of India’s most successful property developers. In 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic subsiding and the world feeling a very different place I took a moment to look at my career and my next move seemed obvious – to take the skills I’d built over 25 years in finance and management and apply them to something new, exciting and relevant!
How do you feel you’ve transitioned from the Ten10 Academy to your client work?
I think it’s gone really well. We had a four-day handover and a two-person team of Ten10 consultants was already working at the client. Even though they were on a slightly different project to me, it certainly made the transition a lot easier as they had been working there for a couple of months already and they were great for answering any general questions I had. After completing more projects with this client, I know I’m doing well here.
Tech was never something I had worked in before. I had brief knowledge of it due to tech support I had received in old jobs and having my own business, but nothing directly related.
Take us through your placement – what client teams have you worked with and what specific projects have you been responsible for during your placement?
I’ve been on the retail IT QA team. I was first tasked to roll out a major upgrade project for the client’s point-of-service software. My job was to test a series of patches, raise and manage the resulting bugs to resolution, and support the UAT process. Since that project, I have been assigned to a series of projects regarding smaller changes to the software, driven by either the business or legislative requirements of different countries the client operated in. For example, I have tested physical solutions for Portuguese stores, tax receipt changes for Japanese stores, and paperless solutions for French stores. This includes terms and conditions, VAT rates, and the hardware used around the world that can be tested in our lab here in Leeds.
I was initially nervous when I started but I honestly think that’s just natural. Anything new can be scary and there are things you don’t know but you just need to ask the right questions. After working in completely different careers for about 25 years I still haven’t seen it all, but you just focus on what needs to be done and you find your way.
What parts of the Ten10 Academy training have been most useful in your placement?
Given the role is heavily test-focused, the test management skills have been the most useful. All the other things I learned in the Academy give me well-rounded knowledge and are great to have, but the test modules helped me the most.
What is a normal working day or week for you?
The retail IT team doesn’t work on an Agile model so we don’t break down into sprints as other teams do. My tasks include creating scripted tests on an Oracle product, to either test the functionality, meet acceptance criteria, or provide logs/other information to another team for them to match their work up with it. We are very much like a central point of contact because we have a lab with all the equipment. I keep my eye on the pre-production test environment, raising bugs if there is anything wrong with the machines, and sorting them out.
When new projects are assigned, I review the documentation, talking to the business analysts to try and prepare myself for what’s to come. New information starts to come down slowly and if you wait until the end there’s a lot of it. You should read it before it all comes through to stay organised. A lot of people do a lot of interesting things, so working with other teams and seeing what they do shows me a whole new world of career opportunities.
Have your role and/or responsibilities changed during your time on placement? How have you handled the change?
My client’s work has tended to stay the same throughout. I have a very focused role, which can be good to make sure I’m putting all the time and effort into what I need to do. This was great to allow me to settle down and get comfortable with my role. The content changes as projects come and go, but our purpose doesn’t, which is something I like.
What technology, tools, frameworks, and processes have you gained experience with since starting client work?
Other than the client’s Oracle product software that we work on in our projects which is quite niche, I use Jira, and the tools that come with that to fix bugs and workflows relating to bugs. I also use Confluence to manage issues and communicate with people.
How has your client supported your development?
As we are so focused on our role in testing, a lot of our development has been in a very straight line. Right from the start, I was able to give progress reports, introduce myself to the team/company and have my own responsibilities to get myself out there. I liked how I had to be quite extroverted to push myself and network with members of the team both internally and externally. It allowed me to use the skills I was already good at from other careers so I felt more comfortable, and transfer my talents to a different atmosphere.
What advice do you have for people considering applying to the Ten10 Academy?
My advice would be to not overthink it and let the work come to you. The training is fast and you get as much out of it as you put in. Even if tech is just of the slightest interest to you, do not hesitate and apply!