Q&A With Sam Kirkbride

This week, we talk with our Technology Director, Sam Kirkbride, and find out a bit about him and why he does what he does.

How did you get into doing your job?

I didn’t realise it at the time, but my first experience of coding and web development was back when you could customise your MySpace profile using HTML and CSS. My profile was packed with everything you could think of adding, not a pretty sight, and even with improved internet speeds, I bet the performance of it would be awful.

I got into coding properly when I went to Huddersfield University as part of my Business IT course. Over my three years, I learnt a range of different programming languages, how to use databases, how to design systems, and a range of different project management and business skills.

Programming was the thing that interested me the most. At school, woodwork and electronics interested me because the time spent doing something had a visual output. To me, coding is the same thing - when I do something with code, the time spent is worth the visual output.

What did you do before working for The Wonder Agency?

When I finished university, I didn’t really know what I was going to do, so I applied for basically every web development role that I could find. At the time, I had no idea what the difference between working for a marketing agency or working “in-house” meant. I went to a few interviews and eventually was offered a junior position at Home Agency.

I spent nine years at Home Agency, working my way up through the development team, before being offered the opportunity to run my own team, becoming Head of Technology. That role moved me away from the more traditional web development projects, getting more involved with the specification of work in the development team and working closely with the data and SEO teams to help them with their technical challenges.

After nine years, I decided I needed a new challenge, and took up a position at AI startup, Third Foundation, becoming their Technology Director. While there, I worked on a number of projects both internally and for our clients, on projects ranging from cloud computing to data transformation and analysis to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

What do you do for The Wonder Agency?

As Technology Director of The Wonder Agency, I am responsible for providing technical solutions for both us and our clients. Over the ten years I have been working in marketing agencies, I have learnt a lot of technical skills and this role gives me the opportunity to apply those skills to a company at the beginning of it’s journey.

Picture of Sam

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your role?

The most challenging part of my role is coming up with solutions using platforms that I’ve never heard of or used before. However, that’s been a challenging part of my entire career, and I think the reward of satisfaction it brings when you do come up with a solution offsets that challenge.

The projects I work on might have changed a bit over the years, but I still feel the satisfaction of seeing that visual output, like I did when I first started out coding all those years ago.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Absorb everything from everyone around you as much as you can. You might work with developers who work in a different programming language or tool, but the skills are transferable. Listen, communicate and empathise with everyone else working on a project, you can’t do it alone, and getting others onside early on will make you stand out.

If you’re looking to kick-off a digital project then get in touch with Steve and Amy at hello@wonderagency.co.uk

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