After graduating from the Infinity Works Academy, Henry McConville reveals how his desire to further his learning is being fulfilled, and what life as a full stack engineer at a tech consultancy is really like.
Having been passionate about tech since a child, Henry had an idea of what he wanted to do after leaving university, but the options seemed too infinite to choose from. On his path into tech, he says: “It’s an area I always ended up tinkering in.”
Coming straight from university with a first in Computer Science, Henry joined Infinity Works’ first-ever graduate programme – now the Academy – five years ago. At the time, the Academy was a somewhat experiential learning, four-week programme focused on the core tech and delivery skills identified to help new joiners start their first client project. It has since evolved into a 12-week intensive course featuring engineering, delivery, and consultancy training before ending with a final project to be presented company-wide.
Henry was particularly attracted to Infinity Works because of its method of intensive education, followed immediately by real-life projects and further learning on the job. It meant that he could put the basics into practice while getting the exposure and experience of client projects. “It was a great approach for me as opposed to staying in a learning environment for longer,” he comments.
Today, the Infinity Works Academy runs multiple programmes throughout the year, with around fifteen to twenty people in each cohort – a substantial increase in comparison to the three-person group Henry was part of.
Infinite opportunities – from data to full stack engineering
Since graduating from the programme, Henry has taken advantage of the many opportunities that have been made available to him to explore different roles and different client engagements, which has provided him with an even greater sense of the career direction he wants to take.
Working initially as a full stack engineer for various gaming sites in his first 18 months, he also helped other projects on an ad-hoc basis doing bits of platform engineering. “I was only doing really, really small amounts,” he explains. “But I soon realised that was the direction I wanted to take. A while after, a new banking client came on board giving me the chance to focus purely on building new platform capabilities.”
As Henry’s work became more focused on platform engineering, he continued to explore the more specialist disciplines within that, more specifically data. Big data was already making waves in the B2B space at the time but the B2C area was only just catching up. Henry then moved within Infinity Works to work with a leading supermarket brand starting its first-ever big data engagement, kickstarting his foray into the data arena. He spent a year working on this project.
“It exposed me to the world of data, but my role was still heavily focused on the platform side of things because of my skill-set, so when the project finished, I definitely wanted to see more,” he explains.
Henry’s next move was working with a charity, building out an entirely new data platform from scratch. After this full immersion in data, he learnt first-hand that full stack engineering was where he wanted to be after all – not data.
It’s been really nice to pick out and try different things – in fact, it’s one of the best things about Infinity Works. We have autonomy and a choice to try things out before we decide what’s right, and we get to figure it out for ourselves."
Similarly, while he was recently exposed to the leadership aspects of consultancy, Henry has found he wants to concentrate on more of the technical elements of the job – at least for the time being.
Henry explains: “In the future, I’d like to lead a small team again while remaining hands-on technically, but for now, I want to spend my time upskilling on new technologies as the landscape has changed so much since I started.”
Giving back to the community
Henry has learnt more about what his future career would benefit from through delivering various training sessions for customers, tech professionals, and students taking part in a programme run by Generation – a charity supporting young people into careers that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
In 2020, Infinity Works began a partnership with Generation to create a data engineering programme, taking components from its own Academy curriculum and tailoring elements to prepare people for a job in the industry. As part of the Data Engineering programme, the content on this 12-week course gives people at Infinity Works, like Henry, the chance to give back by being a course instructor.
In addition, Infinity Works also runs ‘Zero to Snowflake’ workshops. Snowflake’s data cloud solution is fast becoming the industry standard and so Henry and his colleagues have been running beginner sessions to help data professionals to understand its benefits and how to get started.
“It’s all really rewarding and from the various sessions I’ve done, I really appreciate how important continued training and spreading knowledge is, so I want to get back to that a bit more for myself, for now,” he shares.
“It’s easy to over-provision ourselves with client work and neglect upskilling because there’s always more to do or new clients to work with. Thankfully, our senior management team sends the message to keep spending time learning and developing – and Infinity Works is happy to pay for you to get certified and give you time off to complete them too.”
During the pandemic, Henry found himself in a slightly peculiar position that helped with this; his client had furloughed its staff leaving him with a sudden two-week gap in work. After requesting not to be put on another customer engagement, Henry was able to use the time to get AWS Solutions Architect Professional certified to add to his portfolio of other certifications.
Henry’s passion for discovery and exploration also spills into his personal life. Originally from Leeds and based in the Yorkshire office since graduating, he mentioned to one of the Infinity Works founders over a quick after-work drink that ultimately, he would like to move and spend some time in London.
“He said I should 100% do it, and that I wouldn’t regret it. So, from there, I just needed to let my Leeds team know and manage the move to the London office making sure it worked with various schedules. Everyone was really happy and made it simple, on both leaving the Leeds office and being welcomed into the London one,” he reminisces.
Working with passionate people
Since moving to the London office three years ago, remote working has become the norm for Henry but this hasn’t changed what socialising at work means.
“I’m a social person and like speaking to people, so even though the London office always catered for the option to work remotely, it’s important to me to have time to see and chat with other people,” he says.
“Even with Covid-19 and as we’ve had to go even more remote, we’ve kept up that side of things – whether company-wide, for individual offices, and within smaller teams or groups,” Henry shares.
“We’ve done all sorts of food and drinks tastings, a murder mystery event, and we kept up our coffee buddy roulette. The roulette, which happens fortnightly, is a chance to have a coffee or a general catch up with someone matched with you at random. In fact, lockdown actually meant that our pairings could go nationwide instead of being limited to those in the same office, which was great. I struggled without the ad-hoc short chats throughout the day at the start, but as the lockdowns kept going on there was a real conscious effort by everyone to allocate time to just socialise and chat, which has been really good.”
And the best part of working at Infinity Works for Henry? The collaboration: the listening, sharing, and taking on of different opinions and having in-depth discussions for projects with other equally passionate people.
The social and non-work-related elements of Infinity Works have helped to foster a culture of contribution and respect which bleeds into the work and projects themselves.
One of the best things for me is that we work with people who want our technical skills as well as our input and opinions. As my technical skills and confidence have developed, I’ve been able to help with initial designs and architectures, contributing my opinion and thoughts on the best way forward."
As Infinity Works is now part of Accenture, Henry has an even greater opportunity to work with even more diverse clients and projects. Ultimately though, his desire to further his own learning is paired perfectly with the many opportunities that Accenture offers, including a huge number of and training created in-house.
He says: “For every conceivable area of learning and development, there’s far more resources available now because we’re part of Accenture. This is great because it gives me wider choice and scope to move to areas that really interest me.”