Gary DevenayGary is a software engineer with over 12 years of commercial full stack experience.

His love of programming started at the age of 12, which landed him his first developer role by age 16. Despite his youth, Gary has successfully led development teams through the entire lifecycle of agile projects for some of the world’s largest clients, including PwC, KPMG, EY, Missguided.com, and Royal Bank of Scotland. Gary met Jillian at their shared co-working space while building his own digital agency; We are Decade. Gary also had built a similar product to Safe & the City in a 48-hour hackathon many years earlier, which never left his mind about the importance of this type of technology and improving safety in areas where he grew up in Scotland. Gary joined Safe & the City as CTO in February 2019.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I was born and raised on the west coast of Scotland. At the age of 12, I started teaching myself how to code and fell in love with computers. At the age of 16, I landed my first job as a professional Software Engineer. Over the next 12 years, I went on to lead teams and write software for some of the world’s biggest brands before pursuing my start-up dream and joining Safe & the City as the Chief Technology Officer in 2019. My role at Safe & the City is to oversee and implement our technology roadmap for both our Safe & the City app and our i3 Intelligence business platform with the goal of reducing the risk of unsafe experiences to people travelling through public spaces.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t plan my career too far into the future, but I was always consciously aware of how I wanted to progress. I tried hard to get involved in meaningful projects that would present valuable learning experiences that I could evidence for future roles when I felt it was time to progress in my career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Starting a professional career at age 16 was a challenge. There is a steep learning curve to go from a high school environment to a professional workplace and gain the professional respect of peers. I would say my age remained a professional challenge until my mid-twenties, but I was determined to keep my focus on my abilities and outputs knowing that I would ultimately be judged based on them.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am most proud of my continuous investment in my own knowledge. I was never a particularly standout student at school and didn’t take well to those methods of learning. To discover my true passion for learning and ability to dive into a diverse range of topics from software engineering to rocket science and macroeconomics, I really believe I have become a student of life.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Without a doubt, the defining factor of my success so far has been my appetite for learning. In a profession that moves as fast as software engineering, I never let a day go by without learning something new. If you’re not learning something meaningful and new each day, you’re missing a great opportunity.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is great, I’ve never had an official mentor but the Technical Director at my first position instilled the lessons of learning and quality of work that set me on the path I’ve continued for the last 14 years. I’ve yet to take on an official mentee, but it’s something I’m looking forward to in the future.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

So much of our societal structure is inherited from our employment and our ability to earn. I am a big believer in the “incentive theory of motivation”. If we want to reap the rewards of a diverse team of colleagues and peers, then we have to present truly equal opportunity and remuneration. In my opinion, this should be the first criteria of any push towards diversity and inclusion.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Increased gender equality is better for everyone and touches every part of our lives. In our workplace, we can see that increased gender equality increases the quality of decision making, the effectiveness of product and service design, better and more effective innovation— the list goes on. From a purely economic standpoint, increased gender equality alone would equate to a GDP increase of €1.2 trillion in Europe, further improving the quality of life and living for everyone.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t compare yourself to other people, compare yourself today to yourself a month ago, or a year ago. Other colleagues and friends are on a different journey than you, with different goals and circumstances. As long as you are closer to your goals today than you were a year ago, you’re doing great!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

At the moment my challenge is in delivering the roadmap for Safe & the City’s i3 Intelligence platform, the Safe & the City mobile app and scaling our team. We have some really exciting and cutting-edge technology which I believe will make a real difference to how we experience and improve safety in public spaces. Looking towards the future, I am working on advancements to how we can stabilise and incentivise our renewable energy grid as we move further into a sustainable energy future.