Gravitywho? #3 Henry
In this series I interview the award-winning team of creative geeks, thinkers and grafters, one by one.
Henry, great to meet you. Where are you from and how long have you been at Gravitywell?
I'm from Bedminster in south Bristol and I'm approaching two years at Gravitywell.
Representing BS3. Nice. What's the best thing about working here?
The variety. We've got such a wide range of experience, knowledge and interest across a small number of people that we're able to pick up almost anything and find a way to make it work.
Absolutely. Who would be your dream client and what would you like to work on for them?
I'm probably going to get into trouble for saying this but it's PornHub (don't panic, the link is safe!). The content may all be NSFW but they control a ridiculously large amount of data and put it to impressive use. Their data science team are able to track major events in tech, entertainment, and even politics and surface some surprisingly candid and unexpected insights into users' thoughts and behaviour. They can even track when other major services (such as YouTube or games like Fortnite) go down for prolonged periods of time, based on increases in traffic and specific search terms. To be able to play with data at that scale and build apps that leverage it would be a info-nerd's dream come true!
Great answer! I'll be honest, you had me worried for a second... How did you get into Software Development?
I actually intended to be (and qualified as) a librarian! I fell into development while studying for my MSc and found that everything I was interested in - understanding users, building data structures to solve their problems, focusing on usability and accessibility - crossed over nicely. I took a few courses in database design and PHP development (my first love) and just kept on going.
From my experience you look a few decades too young to be a librarian, but what do I know. What's your advice for someone wanting to get into Software Development?
Focus on what you're really interested and make it your own. There are so many recommended or prescribed paths into this industry but the best devs I've met draw from every aspect of their lives and use it to inform their decisions. This job is all about understanding people's needs and the more you can relate, the better the outcome.
Excellent advice. So what's the worst thing about being a Software Developer?
There's a lot of pressure to keep up with the cutting edge but that comes with the risk of using new tools that may not be suited to the job. It's a hard balance to strike, especially when there are so many new toys to play with every week!
What's your favourite piece of tech and why?
I started doing drone photography this year and am still blown away by how far we've come in such a short amount of time. 10-year-old me would never have believed that one day I'd be able to control a semi-autonomous flying machine from a tiny screen 1km away.
10-year-old Henry sounds pretty switched on for a 10-year-old. Your Hackathon dream destination would be..?
The SCUBA diver in me wants to say Mexico but I doubt I'd have much time to spend in the cenotes while we're building an app. Instead, I'll say New York City. With almost everything available 24/7, huge and fast-moving tech and creative communities, and, of course, fast internet, fantastic food and views, you can't go wrong!
I agree! Let's hope Jack (Technical Director) and Simon (Creative Director) are reading this. Finally, what's the best kept secret in Bristol?
The Cube Microplex - an independent, volunteer-run cinema in the heart of the city. I may be biased but it's best place in town to enjoy little-known movies, music and comedy. Tickets and drinks are cheap too!