Ravneet Shah

With fifteen years software engineering experience, Ravneet Shah is now VP Engineering at Allica Bank.

This is a newly created position she was promoted to after introducing the bank to technologies that streamlined its loan application process. She has two children and credits her success partly to flexible working. 

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

I started my career as a Systems Engineer in the Telecoms industry, progressing to Software Engineer, and later Senior Software Engineer. I worked in various data companies where I had direct, hands-on experience working in microservices, which is a style of software architecture where complex applications are composed of small, independent services which exchange data and procedural requests. This was a pivotal point in my career, which led me into the financial services industry, specialising in fintech and insurance, and where I gained further experience in cloud services, specifically AWS/Azure. 

I joined Allica Bank as Lead Backend Engineer not long after the bank’s launch at the start of 2020 and less than 18 months later I progressed to my current, and a newly-created role – VP Engineering. The promotion came from being able to demonstrate how a microservice system architecture would benefit the bank’s loan application process in terms of scalability and efficiency – and I’m pleased to say it has already gone live. My role involves leading the engineering strategy for Allica, including the backend, web, mobile and testing teams. My team and I are also responsible for Allica’s technical strategy and roadmap, with our next priority to implement micro-frontends.  

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I don’t plan ahead in terms of securing positions, but I regularly plan what I should be learning next in terms of technology, tools or my understanding of newly-introduced practices that we can benefit from. Essentially, I need to know ‘what comes next’ and what will be driving future change.  

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?  

Yes, especially when I was planning my family and had young children to look after. Software Engineering and development is my passion and having two jobs (managing my family and working full time) was very challenging. But I worked with my employer using flexible working, which helped me to grow professionally while taking care of my family. Remote or flexible working was not very common back in 2013 and 2014, and so I was lucky to be able to use it to take care of my daughters during the day and work late nights to complete projects within desired timescales.   

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?  

I think it was when I secured a job through a campus recruitment scheme that sought out ambitious and passionate graduates, such as myself, for entry-level positions. I have not looked back since, and still remember the excitement and feeling of achievement in being picked. 

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

An appetite for knowledge. I am always eager to learn and adopt new practises. 

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?  

Never stop learning is the key to success. I am proud to say I learned Test Driven Development (TDD) and Integrated Development Environment (IDE) shortcuts from one of my colleagues during a pair programming exercise that improved my coding speed.  

 Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?  

I think there is sometimes a lack of self-confidence within the female tech community. I have witnessed a number of scenarios where women think they are not qualified for a role, or believe other responsibilities will stand in their way, even when they do have the required talent, skills and capacity. I regularly advise my female colleagues that they have the calibre and talent to step up into their desired positions. 

What do you think companies can do to support the careers of women working in technology? 

To offer flexible working. For me, I may well have had to take a career break if I didn’t have the option of flexible working. 

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?  

I have been in this industry for almost 15 years and have seen so many colleagues and friends leave their jobs after having families. I truly believe that flexible working will bring about a significant change and will provide an excellent platform for women to excel in tech. I have noticed a hugely positive difference with remote working brought about by the pandemic. Now our whole team is working remotely, we are used to most meetings happening virtually and the result is everyone is an active contributor, irrespective of working remotely, or indeed flexibly! 

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I use many different forums to keep up with technology, including Oreilly, industry blogs, white papers and blogs published by big tech companies like Google and Netflix. I also jump on any opportunity to join webinars on linkedIn and tech forums.