At Black Pepper, despite stereotypes, software development isn't a solitary task

Rhysdavis

As we’ve recently introduced Slack here, at Black Pepper, we’ve been thinking how to make use of its full potential. Granted, it’s both fun and useful for quick chats, but we wanted more.

So we came up with this novel concept of doing Q&A sessions with some of the guys and gals here in the team over Slack, so that we can then give you a glimpse into life at Black Pepper. We settled on one question a day, as most of us do tend to focus on programming, not answering questions asked by the nosy marketer.

We’re interviewing another one of our graduates today, Rhys Davis. You can find the other interview with one of our graduates, Dan, here. Rhys has been in our team for almost two years now and he’s skyrocketed at Black Pepper, mainly because he’s a stellar developer and really getting involved in our projects.

Sound interesting? Read on to find out more.

First off, tell us how your story with Black Pepper began.

I first heard about Black Pepper while I was a student. My housemate’s father was a customer of Black Pepper and came round to visit when he was in the area for a meeting with Black Pepper. I took the opportunity to mention that I was interested in becoming a software engineer myself. My friend’s father introduced me to Black Pepper by telling them a bit about me and making some disparaging remarks about my support of Cardiff City Football Club! After an interview, they decided to offer me an internship during the summer before my final year of university. I must have done something right, as after I finished my course, Black Pepper offered me a permanent role. Having really enjoyed my time at Black Pepper, I of course accepted their offer and now, 19 months later, I'm still very happy I did.

Nice! You’re off the hook for now, I’ll come back with a new question tomorrow.

Woohoo!

Woah there, why are you so glad to get rid of me?

Not glad to get rid of you, just excited to get back to coding :p

Well, you dodged that bullet nicely…

Switching over to a fun question now: if you were a programming language, what would you be & why?

I guess APL (A Programming Language) suits me best. Concise, straight to the point and a bit annoyingly logical. Also a bit difficult to get to know, but worth the effort :)

If it were just free choice, then I’d pick Groovy because that's what the cool kids like and who doesn't want to be called Groovy?

Maybe we should start calling you that :)

But coming back to reality for a bit, what was your favourite project you worked on at Black Pepper so far?

My favourite project was a web app that enabled people to design charms for loom bands. After choosing from a range of shapes and colours the charm could be 3D printed and laser etched with text of their choice such as their name.

Besides the programming, what do you like most about Black Pepper?

The people. Lots of clever people that are always willing to help out. They're also good fun to be around both inside and outside of work.

Right, wow about we lighten up the mood with a series of quick questions?

Windows or Linux?

Linux

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook

Android or iOS?

Android

Xbox or PS4?

PS4

Batman or Superman?

Batman

Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings

Arrow or The Flash?

The Flash

Fish & chips or Sunday roast?

Fish and chips

Lager or ale?

Ale

Black pepper or salt?

Black pepper, of course :)

Cool, let’s go back to some serious questions now. What have you learned in your time with Black Pepper?

I've learned a lot here at Black Pepper, including many different programming languages, frameworks and tools. More important, though, are the values and practices that regardless of the technology being used can help make a project successful and deliver value to our customers as quickly as possible. One of the techniques I've learned is Test Driven Development. This helps you focus on what the system needs to do from a business perspective first, so you can be confident you’re building the right thing before focusing on making sure it is built right. This also helps us keep to our principle of always remember to KISS (keep it simple, stupid)!

And final question - what would a graduate need to make it big at Black Pepper?

You need to have the desire and motivation to be constantly learning new things. Technology progresses at such a speed that, if you stop, you're going to get left behind. You need to enjoy problem solving, as you're going to spend a lot of time doing this. Despite some of the stereotypes you may have heard, software development isn't a solitary task. So the ability to work well with others and share what you have learnt is vital. Finally, not being afraid to challenge the status quo.

Because we like to be transparent and take pride in how business as usual goes on in our office, we’ll post more of these interviews, trying to offer you a rounded view of how our team see Black Pepper and feel about coming to work every day. You can read another interview here and look out for the next one!

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