Talking Tech Transformation with Kainos

Dec 19, 2022
hackajob Staff

Ever wondered what it would be like to work for a company that genuinely cares to revolutionise the way we work, live and connect via technology? Then you’ll love Kainos. These tech transformation experts are on a mission to make people’s lives better through technology – and they want you to join them.

Kainos has been involved in a number of nationally important, award winning projects, such as transforming the passport application process in collaboration with HM Passport Office and also have a number of outreach ventures and personal development opportunities. They are growing at pace and are looking for more talented engineers to join their tech teams.

What better way to find out about the tech stack, culture and types of projects you could be up to than directly from a Kainos Lead Software Engineer! Let’s meet Michael and find out how exactly Kainos is changing the game of digital transformation.

Having graduated with a Computer Science Degree from the University of Glasgow, Michael Hall was attracted to Kainos because of the people, culture and type of work he could get up to. He joined their graduate programme and has never looked back. Now a Lead Software Engineer, and having worked there for over six years, Michael has worked on a number of exciting projects and been exposed to different skill sets, tech stacks and methods of working. Here he shares with us some of the ways in which he’s grown as an engineer because of Kainos as well as one of their most exciting and impactful projects to date. Buckle in as we get started!

You’ve been at Kainos since you were a graduate; how has your role, the business and the culture changed in that time?

It’s still wild to me that I joined at the most junior software developer level and during my time here I’ve worked my way up to leading a whole team of people. My role originally started out being entirely hands-on in code, whereas now, I touch slightly less code and have more meetings but still manage to impact people through the work that I do. I still love getting to code, it’s just that now I think of the wider business challenges too. For example, ‘how does our piece of work affect the wider scope of the architecture?’.

When I joined Kainos it was teetering at just under 1000 employees, and last time I checked it had tripled in size. Whilst it’s easy to think you’d get lost in a place like this with new names and faces, the culture has really been kept well and scaled up as we’ve grown in size. That’s not necessarily easy to do, but I’ve enjoyed seeing the growth and it’s been great to see people I started working with go into other parts of the business. We’re all supported to achieve our potential no matter the discipline.

Kainos is very forward-thinking; what types of technologies or tech stack have you enjoyed using and why?

Fun fact: as we work on a variety of projects at Kainos, we get to use a variety of technologies so no matter what you do, you’ll probably upskill in some way.  What’s great is that you can work with Java and node.JS but as the tech evolves, so do you.

I’ve enjoyed using Kubernetes because it’s really fun to work with when you get to write some of the underlying code for it. This leads to one thing I really enjoy about working here; you get to learn on the job. There was one project where we started using Kubernetes and I was able to do a Pluralsight course, but then I was able to back up my new knowledge by putting it into practice. We also work with React.JS which has been great for the internal apps we create. Thankfully, all projects are good at moving on to technologies to also give the best possible outcome to our clients.

Can you tell us more about the passport project you’ve been working on and both the highlights and challenges of delivering this to the public?

I got to work on the team that helped to digitise applying for a passport. So now, anyone can apply entirely online and even have someone verify their application online. Previously, you could print the application, but you’d still have to complete a lot of paperwork in person. It was such a cool piece of work to be involved with and great to see how our efforts helped completely transform the user experience for so many citizens. It actually recently won the Product of the Year
Award at the Computing Technology Product Awards 2022 –
which is just amazing to see!

There’s something satisfying about knowing that the work you’ve contributed to will be used by millions of people. When Kainos joined the project, there were around 500,000 using the application system whereas now there have been over 20 million, which is a huge jump.

The best thing was when my own dad texted me and said he managed to apply online. He's not tech-savvy in the slightest and he was able to navigate the site and even have a digital referee. That was really cool.

What type of skills do you think suits those wanting to become Software Engineers at Kainos (both technical and non-technical) and which of these has helped you the most?

Firstly, an appetite to learn and get stuck in!  If you're coming from a technical side of things, you're inevitably going to come across problems with things you don't understand. Being able to research for yourself and put effort in is an underrated skill that will take you far. It's always nice when you can see an engineer has put work into something because they have the appetite to try and learn how to do it themselves.

Secondly – always have an appetite to ask questions to understand more. It doesn't matter whether it’s about the tech side, business side, or any other side, just make sure you are trying to understand how the work you do will contribute to something bigger.

These two skills really helped me in my own journey, so I’d recommend anyone thinking of joining Kainos to try these.

Aside from the tech, what is your favourite thing about Kainos and why should other engineers come and join?

It’s definitely the craic! I’m grateful that I’ve always had a good time on every project I've been on. That’s not to say that everything is always plain sailing because it isn’t, but more so that the team makes it all worth it. We also have great social events to suit all types of people.

The aspect I like best is the people and having fun because work can be great but if I had to work on my own and didn't have a good team around me, I wouldn't be looking forward to it half as much. The people here make the company.

And that’s it!

We enjoyed speaking with Michael and learning exactly what Kainos gets up to. Intrigued by their way of working? Find out more in this interview with Patryk Jar, Tech Lead of the Innovation Team at Kainos.

If you're interested in a role with Kainos, then head on over to our platform where you could be matched with them. It takes just 5 minutes to sign up.

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