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What does a ruby developer do?

In this post Mal, one of our ruby developers, explains their role through six objects (just like Lucy, our Creative Director, and Derek, our UX Lead have done in the past).

In this post Mal, one of our ruby developers, explains their role through six objects (just like Lucy, our Creative Director, and Dereck, our UX Lead have done in the past).

After Lucy and Dereck described their roles with six objects, a few of us got together to workshop what six items might work for us.

I found it really helpful to think about my role this way, as I wear a lot of different hats – as a developer at FutureLearn, I write code and discuss approaches and issues with the team, but I also manage and organise the hiring process for ruby developer positions, and line manage several members of the team. In fact, the hardest part of this exercise was picking just six things!

1. Prism – facilitating judgement of candidates

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Prism

I help organise interviews when we open developer positions here at FutureLearn. Part of this is facilitating discussions of candidates. I don’t share a view of my own, but I work with the team to bring together their opinions, and break their ideas and opinions down into well-rounded evidence about a candidate; similar to how a prism breaks a single ray of light into a rainbow.

2. Shield – shouldering the consequences of hard choices

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Shield

The worst part of hiring is saying no to candidates – especially when the candidates are all great but we can’t hire everyone. I am responsible for letting candidates know they’ve been unsuccessful and providing them with feedback; shielding the team from the emotional impact of this makes it easier for them to make difficult choices honestly and fairly.

3. Trampoline – lifting people up

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Trampoline

As a line manager for some of the developers in the team, I work with them to help decide what skills they want to improve, where they want their careers to go, and what goals will help them move towards that. Like a trampoline, I don’t do any of the work for them – it’s all about enabling their efforts to propel them to greater heights.

4. Mirror – asking reflective questions

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Mirror

Other developers on my team often run ideas by me or ask questions about where they should go with certain features or work. Part of this work is just sharing knowledge and experience, but I think one of the more valuable aspects of this process is asking reflective questions: asking the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘whys’ and ‘have you thought abouts’ so that the other person can reach answers they might already know but hadn’t quite got to yet.

5. Chalk – teaching others

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Chalk

I believe the most important thing anyone can do with their knowledge is share it with others. Part of my role is teaching. I do this by working with other developers, setting a good example, and also lessons; I kicked off FutureLearn’s ‘learning hours’ where anyone can volunteer to teach people about something they know – in fact part of my helping with hiring has been organising lessons to improve interviewing skills.

6. Megaphone – speaking out

Mal Ruby Developer FutureLearn Megaphone

We’re all responsible for maintaining a supportive and welcoming culture at FutureLearn. As a naturally outspoken person, I work to help amplify other people’s thoughts and voices. And as one of the more experienced members of the team, I also try and set a good example for others to follow. This means visibly calling out inappropriate behaviour, praising people in ways that others can see, and speaking up on behalf of others who don’t feel as free to be open about their identities.

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