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Meet the Team: Alise, Software Engineer

Name: Alise Nikitina

At Spektrix since: I joined the team at the beginning of April 2015.

Originally from: I’m originally from Riga in Latvia and moved to London a couple of days before joining the team of Spektrix.

What do you do at Spektrix?

I’m part of our Development team where I work as a Software Engineer. My role alternates between working on new features for our system and fixing existing bugs we find.

What were you doing before you joined Spektrix?

I was working as Software Engineer at a couple of different companies based in Latvia.

How did you get started in development?

I applied to study Computer Science at the University of Latvia because I’ve always liked maths and solving complicated problems, but I’d never programmed anything before. The first year was challenging as most of the other students already had some experience. I struggled a bit and had to study twice as hard to keep up. But after my second year, I did an internship at Bank of Latvia where I had my first practical experience of working on an actual project as a Software Engineer and I knew then that it was the right career for me. I enjoyed every bit of it.

What made you want to join Spektrix?

The first impression I had of Spektrix after looking at their website was that it seemed like a nice company to be part of and it would be interesting to build their system. After I got to meet Matt and Michael and saw the Spektrix HQ I knew that it was somewhere I really wanted to work.

What is a typical week like for you?

It depends on what I’m working on that week, so there isn’t really a typical week. If I’m working on a new Spektrix feature then I’ll probably be working with the other Software Engineers on the technical design and discussing the possible implementation. Once we’ve all agreed on the chosen design, the next step would be to implement it and work with the UI, UX and QA teams to ensure the implementation corresponds to the visual designs and is functionally working. If I’m on the bugs team that week or it’s the Bugs Fest week (where we spend a week fixing as many bugs as we can), then I’ll be trying to fix as many bugs as possible and would be reviewing code written by the other engineers. If I’m on the sprints team, I’ll be working on our new Spektrix Two system, so I’ll be working on sprint tasks or estimating tasks for the next sprint.

What are the challenges you face?

The Spektrix system is big and complex. Whenever we need to add a new feature, we have to keep in mind the overall design and make smart decisions when implementing it so that we don’t break the existing functionality. It also needs to be implemented in a way that’s easily maintainable. It’s very challenging because the system is so feature rich that it can be tricky to remember all the features we’re working on. Our wonderful Support team is always there to help us with that though.

What’s your favourite part of working at Spektrix?

I love working with people who are excited about what they do and want to always accomplish more. It’s also great knowing that the company is interested in your personal growth and will help and support you throughout your career.

What advice would you give young women starting a career in tech and development?

It won’t be easy and you’ll have to face many challenges on your way up the ladder as the tech world is still very heavily dominated by men. Women often need to work harder to prove themselves. However, this shouldn’t be a reason not to choose a career in tech as in my opinion, it’s a great industry to be part of. And if you need support then there are many organizations led by women in tech that will be very happy to give you the advice and support you need.

What do you think makes a great development team?

To create a great development team you definitely need to have great people that are excited about all things tech, who want to learn new things and share their knowledge with others. But that’s not all. Everyone on the team should be willing to work collaboratively and be respectful to others.

What tech tools do you use that you couldn’t live without? 

I probably couldn't live without Microsoft Visual Studio, which I use daily in the development process. Visual Studio makes the development process so much easier as it includes many integrated tools such as code editor, debugger, package manager and can be easily customised by adding different extensions. For example, JetBrains ReSharper provides tools for refactoring and code auto-formatting. Some other tools I use in my day to day life at Spektrix are JIRA, Stash and Google Docs.

If you weren’t at Spektrix, what else do you think you’d be doing? 

Maybe I’d pack up my bags and go on a trip around the world - I’ve always wanted to do that.

Favourite thing to do in London? 

I like going to museums and spend hours and hours exploring the endless exhibitions (the Science Museum is fantastic). On a sunny day I head to one of London’s beautiful parks and have a picnic with friends or go to the Southbank as there’s always something happening there.