Being a career changer, Hillary knows the value of finding and growing developers from all walks of life. Here, she tells us about how MoveSpring discovers and nurtures amazing talent — and how they plan to keep it up as part of Reward Gateway.
Hi Hillary! What's your role at MoveSpring?
So I actually started at MoveSpring as a customer support agent, but whilst I was on the job I trained to become a developer. And now, as part of that my role has evolved to be the team’s Development Manager — so I’ve gone from customer-facing to actually now building the tools that we use to help our customers, which is really cool.
Was that something you expected to do? Was development something you were interested in before?
Yes! It’s often how we’ve done things at MoveSpring; a couple of our team members have evolved from helping customers into different roles. And the idea is that we want to build people's skills from the ground up; to let them pursue the things they’re passionate about, and give them the freedom to move into those roles and learn even more.
So I knew I was going to be a developer, but I didn’t expect that six years down the line I’d be leading the team!
I think that learning ethos is very much shared between MoveSpring and Reward Gateway. Is that journey/evolution still something that happens today?
Although we haven’t had a new apprentice for a little while as we get settled with RG, we’ve just had two colleagues hit their one-year milestones this year, which is pretty crazy, as they started out as apprentices too.
We don’t do the customer service route as much anymore, but we love finding people directly from developer bootcamps, or people who are self-taught, and giving them the opportunity to train and become developers on their terms.
It’s worked out very, very well for us. No one on our team has a computer science degree; our developers and my boss are all career changers. I used to work in cognitive science research with kids! One of my colleagues used to be a vet tech, and another managed study abroad programs but lost their job during the pandemic. No two people are the same or follow the same path.
I guess it helps bring more perspectives?
Absolutely. Having people from all kinds of backgrounds bring their experience and perspective makes our product better. And that’s definitely something we want to continue with RG — we have a plan to continue that development program, because we're very passionate (and I'm particularly passionate) about bringing in people who otherwise couldn't have gotten a development job, maybe because they feel they HAVE to have a computer science degree to get their foot in the door.
The tech is changing so fast, anyway, right? Your team has basically had to evolve as much as the product has?
Learning how to adapt is very, very important. I mean, MoveSpring is only 23 people right now — we’ve had to learn to adapt through so many different situations over the last six years. There’s been COVID, there have been tough times, some really great times — and just being able to roll with the punches and support each other has been great for us.
Because, I guess, you’re not just developing your tech skills, you’re also developing as people in business?
That's why we value soft skills, and like to take people from different backgrounds. I hate that “soft skills” are called that, but again, having compassion and being able to communicate are things you might not typically highlight in a technical role.
But it’s really important to us. I'd rather have someone who has the potential to be really great, who brings loads of empathy and just needs some guidance to get there, rather than have someone who doesn't really care about our customers.
Do you find that energy has stuck since you joined Reward Gateway? I know MoveSpring’s product is still growing and still its own thing, but it sounds like the company ethos is similar?
That was the first thing we noticed. When we all met Doug [Butler, Reward Gateway’s CEO] — he was the first person we met from RG — we realized how aligned both of our companies were, particularly about empathy; empathizing with our customers, to create and deliver them the best possible product, and empathizing with our team, to create a great place for us all to work.
Since meeting people from RG, I’ve also become an EPIC Leader for the LGBTQ group and met some awesome people. Finding that our cultural values aligned I think really made the switch a lot easier, for everyone.
So, finally, what would you say to someone starting out in the industry, or someone who’s reading this and wants to apply themselves?
For MoveSpring, and especially for our team, we want someone who has the drive to learn and is always learning. If they can show that passion and curiosity, that speaks to me a lot more than someone who comes along and just shows us some things they’ve built. Again, empathy is really big for our team, and you always have to be learning as a developer. That's just the way it is.
If you'd like to learn more about joining our mission to make the world a better place to work, check out our current vacancies at rg.co/careers