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Meet Sarah Doran: Software Development Manager at MTT

What is it like to work at MTT?

I know lots of people say this but one of my favourite things about MTT is the people; everyone is so passionate and always trying to improve things, be it code or how we work.  We work in an agile environment, but things aren’t set in stone and we’re always trying to improve it with every sprint. I love the fact that we work with new technologies;  it can be easy to let your skills go out of date, here you stay on top of things and you get the time to research new technologies and new ideas.

I also love the flexibility MTT gives me to do my job, it’s great working in the office with the team but on days when you need some quiet time it’s hugely beneficial to be able to work from home when I need to.

Furthermore, from a social perspective we have a brilliant Sports & Social committee in MTT (I would say that as I’m Chairperson this year!) which is a great way to get to know other people in the company, especially as we have so many team members who aren’t from Ireland, so it helps them get to know places and things to do. We try and organise events once a month, from games and film nights to table quizes, right through to our bigger events like summer BBQ’s which was held this year in August in Wicklow Gaol!

What does your role entail/what do you do?

Up until recently I was a tech lead on a customer project, where my main role was leading the development of web technologies for that customer. My main focus was guiding the developers day to day and ensuring quality and customer requirements are met. I was the first person hired for a web team so had the opportunity to research the best technology stack to use and build up a new Agile team. Now we have 5 web developers on the team and we’re hiring more.

However, I have recently been promoted to Software Development Manager so I'm more focused on supporting the tech leads, release planning, working with the customer on high priority issues and contributing to improving standards in Engineering across all of MTT.

Outside of my day to day job I also run lunchtime web sessions; where we have different talks on web and related technologies. Any one from MTT can join these sessions, not just the web developers, so they give everyone the opportunity learn something new. We also have a free food so people don’t go hungry! 

What advice would you have for anyone that is interested in working on your team?

One of the most important things is to be really passionate about what you do and always be learning and staying up to date with the latest and greatest technologies. If you find yourself always questioning  How could we do this better’ then this is the right place for you! Our culture is also super important - you have to be a team player. In MTT it doesn’t really matter what age you are or how many years of experience you have, it’s more about demonstrating your ability to do the job and your attitude. We have a great roles framework in Engineering so its very clear to see how you are progressing in your career.

What is the favourite part of your job?

This may sound a bit cheesy but genuinely, my team is the most awesome team I have ever worked with. Even with a deadline looming we always know how to have a laugh whilst getting the job done and that creates a great working environment.

As we work in an agile environment we work on 2 weeks sprints, at the end of each sprint we demo what we have developed to the customer, it's great when sometimes the only comment they have is ‘wow it looks great’, cue the team happy dance.

What is the best project you have ever worked on?

I worked on a project where we developed a responsive web solution from scratch for a client, which involved choosing the technology stack and building a team to work on it. When release day rolled around we watched the number of users climbing on google analytics! It’s so rewarding when something you have worked hard on comes to fruition and you can see the impact is has on the customer.

What are you most proud of achieving in MTT?

A recent feature we were working on with a customer had a really tight deadline and we had to work really closely with the customer to reduce the scope. THe team really pulled together and got on board and we met our delivery date.  Every time we release something for the first time we get a giant release cake, let’s just say it has never tasted sweeter than after that release!  

Describe your typical day in MTT

First thing in the morning my time is spent catching up on messages and emails over free breakfast in the kitchen (can’t say no to free Nutella on toast!). We then have a stand up at 9.30, where everyone gives their update on what they did yesterday, what theyll do today and let the team know if they are blocked in any way. Following that we might have a backlog meeting, where we discuss stories for future sprints. In between code reviews and following up on actions from the customer I would fit in a bug fix or two. In the afternoon I’d often have a call with the customer to let them know how things are going and discuss future requirements.

Now, as Dev Manager I work more closely with Project Managers and Product Owners on long term goals for the team - releases, resourcing, upcoming customer features. I still delve into some code on my weekends as part of my volunteer work with CoderDojo.

Where would we find you outside of work? 

When I’m not out for a run or cycling the ring of Kerry as I mentioned I volunteer my time with CoderDojo, mainly as one of the organisers of CoderDojo coolest projects. CoderDojo is a global network of free computer programming clubs for young people. Every year we host an event in the RDS, Dublin which is a showcase of projects from kids who attend CoderDojo both from Ireland and across Europe (we have subsidies for people outside of Ireland to travel over). This year we had 10,0000 attendees! At the event we have 4 speaker stages broken into ‘Social & Women in Tech’, ‘Entrepreneurs & Start Up Companies’, ‘Game Summit’ and ‘Code Summit’,  we also had discovery area which had flying quadcopters, retro games etc.

The best thing about working on a project such as CoderDojo is that it gives kids the opportunity to get hands on experience with technology and it’s really amazing to see what ideas kids come up with. There are 60 awards given on the day of the event and we have a strong emphasis on creativity and the ideas, rather than the technical ability of the kids. I was delighted that MTT were gold sponsors of the event this year. In fact one of the key drivers for me making the move to MTT was that they had sponsored Coolest Projects for the last 4 years. I was on the organisers team of the coolest projects for the last 4 years and the fact that MTT sponsored them helped me make my decision to move to MTT. They were one of the first sponsors to come on board each year and they made it easy, they were great to work with as a sponsor.. as coolest projects is a completely free event, we were hugely grateful for companies coming back year on year.

 What was life like pre MTT?

I studied Computer Science in UCC and graduated with first class honors. I then joined Mororola as a graduate and did my internship there, where I did both java and web development, and then continued as a full stack developer for most of my career. I took a short break for a year to travel around Australia and New Zealand. Prior to joining MTT I was working as a senior engineer in the financial industry but I was looking to make a move to a company that embraced new technologies and had a more agile approach to working, which is exactly what I get working at MTT!

How different is MTT to any other company you have worked for?

Sometimes it’s like night and day! However, the biggest difference is there is such a strong team culture, where everyone gets on really well and we go for lunch together and have a lot of fun all the while getting the job done. Getting the opportunity and the time to explore new technologies is brilliant. In some companies you feel like a small fish in a big pond and it’s difficult to make a difference outside of your own team. In MTT you feel like your ideas are listened to and valued.

Tell us about working in a travel tech company?

It’s fun working in the travel industry because you feel you can relate to it more closely, for example I used to work in financial security company where it’s hard to really see the outcome of what you are working on. It’s fun when you go on holidays and you get to use products you have developed to help you on your journey!

What is the favourite place you have been?

Swimming with wild dolphins in the sea in Kaikura in New Zealand.

Describe MTT in 3 words

1.Fun

2. Challenging

3. Open-minded

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