Software Development to Personal Development
Penny Hindle, one of our Software Developers, has widened the scope of her position at X-Lab to bring more outward-looking qualities to what can often be a self-contained role. As part of this transition, Penny has been reaching out to the tech community, both across Leeds and further afield, by attending events on a range of topics from industry, technology and coding, to the role of women in tech. Not only this, Penny has been passing on that knowledge by networking with peers, giving talks and teaching the next generation of software developers.
This role isn’t a step in a new direction for Penny. She has ‘always spent a lot of free time volunteering, teaching girls how to code, going into schools and attending a range of conferences’, and she even won a TechWomen100 award in 2019 as an emerging talent.
The extension to Penny’s role encourages her to work flexibly and continue to develop within her existing Software Developer role. For Penny, her ‘role as a Software Developer is challenging and I enjoy being able to spend a lot of time focusing on projects. However, this additional responsibility allows her to work with other organisations and individuals to learn how best to rise to these challenges while representing X-Lab across the technology community. At a recent event, Penny ‘met a woman who was also working in digital pathology, but neither of us had ever heard of each other’s companies’. She explained: ‘I know a lot of people hate the term networking, but I can’t stress how important I think it is, especially for a small company’.
Engaging in outreach gives X-Lab the opportunity to continue one of its traditions of working close with universities and the students who attend them. X-Lab has always engaged and mentored students by employing them on placements and as part time members of staff. After undertaking a placement year with X-Lab as part of her Computer Science degree from 2017 to 2018 and working part-time during her final year, Penny is now able to encourage this ethos by engaging with new audiences outside of the company.
Penny is a leader on an accessibility course called ‘Code First: Girls’ which aims to encourage young women to engage in tech and enterprise, where they are currently a minority. She teaches them how to code in weekly sessions, no matter their experience level, and aims to pass on knowledge, skills and empowerment. Penny, having belonged to similarly inclusive groups when she was younger, believes that ‘this is important because becoming an inclusive working culture takes more than just having a non-biased interview, it needs to start earlier than the hiring process and it needs to focus on diversity and inclusion.’
Penny is able to align her priorities as a software developer, member of the tech community and as a member of the X-Lab team through her new role: ‘I get to spend more time taking part in activities that I love, and it shows that X-Lab is an inclusive environment where we are all encouraged to do what we enjoy.’