InsightsBlogMeet the team: Russell Hicks, Chief Technology Officer

Meet the team: Russell Hicks, Chief Technology Officer

This week, meet Russell!

 

Russell is the Chief Technology Officer at Bond. He joined the company in 2019, is originally from Sutton in Outer London, and has a background in English literature, software development, and web development.

 

Some things you may not know about Russell:

 

  • Russell has recently been promoted from Head of Technology to CTO
  • He makes an excellent pizza dough – a skill he learnt in lockdown 

 

Q: What is your professional background?

A: I originally studied English Literature at Cardiff University – and followed the career path of many English Literature graduates into waiting tables in an Italian restaurant. I retrained in software development, and have been doing that for over 19 years now. 

I worked for over a decade in web development (starting when the internet was a new and exciting thing), and then got into Android development around 2013 (when mobile apps were new and exciting things). I’ve done Android development since, and moved into managerial roles – but I still do bits of coding so that part of my brain doesn’t entirely shut down.

 

Q: What is your role at BDH?

A: As the Chief Technology Officer, I’m responsible for the development team and the technical direction of the company. 

I lead our technical strategy, and the day-to-day management of the development team.

Our team is split across native mobile development – we have teams for iOS, Android, API, and front-end web development.

I also work closely with Tiago, the Product Owner, and Beau, the Scrum Master. We keep sprints on track, and work towards the technical delivery of our platform. 

 

Q: How did you get into your field?

A: I was a nerdy kid, and I loved playing with computers. I started with an Amstrad CPC 464 (other nerdy people of a similar vintage will know what that is). When I got older, I decided that I wanted to be a novelist instead – I put computing on hold while I studied English literature. 

I set up a literary webzine with some friends from my course, and taught myself web development in the process. I learnt HTML and CSS, and my interest in computing grew again. I eventually did an MSc degree at Cardiff University in Computer Science, which was my formal retraining – I’ve worked in tech since then. 

 

Q: What’s a work related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

A: A recent one is recruiting the development team during the pandemic, and doing it all remotely. We’ve got a really well-performing, technically accomplished dev team turning out excellent work – but I’ve only physically met one of them! 

It was a real challenge to do it – but we’ve made the best of the pandemic, and come through with a really strong team and quality product for managing lateral flow diagnostics data. 

 

Q: How have you found working from home this year? Can you tell us your favourite thing about it?

A: My favourite thing is the extra hour and a half not commuting to work – it’s like a free gift of extra time. Working from home has been good, but it has its challenges. 

For managing people and having one-to-ones, it’s been less useful. It’s slightly harder to have group discussions, and using virtual whiteboards isn’t quite the same. 

It’s been great for coding – when you’re doing app development, you need peace, quiet, and no interruptions. Overall, working from home has been easier than I would’ve thought if you’d asked me a year ago. 

 

Q: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

A: I love to read. I used to run often, but I injured my knee running the Cardiff marathon in 2019, so I cycle on my exercise bike now (it’s not quite the same, I feel like a hamster on a wheel). 

I also like to make pizza dough – it’s a hobby I picked up in lockdown and I now make a very respectable dough, and do a lot of dough related activities. Thinking about dough. Talking about dough. Watching videos of other dough obsessives making dough. As midlife crises go, it’s not the worst one.

 

Q: If you were given an unlimited budget to add one thing to the BDH office, what would it be?

A: I’d add private, sound proof booths for every developer so they can each have their own quiet space to work in.  Boring but great for productivity.

 

Q: Do you have any predictions for any after effects of the pandemic?

A: I’m interested to see what will happen to working from home once offices are safe to go back to. I’m expecting more flexibility for employees, and more hybrid working now that we know it can work well.