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What do industry leaders think about the future of work? Kaitlin Gould

We talk to Kaitlin Gould, Business Development Director at Blue Fruit Software for her views on the future of work.
I think the ability to be constantly learning is an incredibly important skill. I think the way that jobs are changing rapidly– even if you think you’re training for a particular job, what that job is going to end up looking like within the next five to 10 years is probably going to change. So you have to be somebody who’s going to be constantly interested in learning and expanding what your job could look like and being open to those challenges. So I think that openness to learning is very important. I think also it’s important to have a wide grasp on a number of different skills. So it’s good to be a specialist in a particular area.
But make sure you’ve always got a few other things in your backlog, even if they’re just passion projects that you’re working on in the background in case you decide to jump in a new direction.
So there’s always constants. No matter what your job will end up being, you will always need to communicate well whether you’re going for a job interview or you’re sitting in at meetings. So communication is a really important skill in addition to your core foundation of what you’re studying, making sure that you understand how to write in a strong way so that you can get your point across, and how to listen and communicate back to people. That’s something that regardless of how a job might change or what sector you’re going in, it’s something you’ll need to know how to do.
And that’s probably from what I learned when I was studying as a design student, I don’t do design anymore, but the things that I was taught in terms of how to put together presentations, how to speak, how to listen, and how to communicate with others is something that hasn’t changed regardless of what job I’m doing.
So if I had a chance to talk to myself as a 20-year-old or someone just coming out of university, I’d probably recommend that I stay true to myself. So when you first graduate, when you’re a student, when you’re young, people try to tell you what they think you’d be good at. They try to steer you in a particular direction. They’re usually genuinely trying to be helpful. But oftentimes, it can make you get off track from what you wanted to do, or what you’re passionate about, or what you at your core know you’re good at. And it can kind of lead you astray. So I’d say listen to others, take their help. Definitely don’t turn it away.
But also try to stay true to who you are and see if there’s a way that you can continue to be yourself while also accepting help from others.
So stuff that I get really excited about at the moment in terms of the direction technology is going and what’s possible in our world is the application of big data. So not just the data itself, but what it can power. So from how it’s starting to make changes within things like artificial intelligence, but also in terms of our understanding of the way that the world works and the implications it could have for helping with health crises in foreign countries, for diagnostics, for just even understanding the patterns and flows of people and being able to have an improved society and an improved world once we can start to apply that data.
So none of the scary stuff about knowing what people do on an individual level, but more the really interesting stuff on what we do as a mob, and all of the type of information that can tell and how it could make– how it could help society and the world at large. I think there’s some really cool stuff that could happen there once we start to apply that data.
Yeah, I think the difference between reality and hype is really interesting. So I think a lot of the hype could also be seen as kind of big ideas and a sexy version of where technology is going. A lot of that stuff is real, it’s just not the things that we’re going to experience. And that by the time it gets out to the masses, it’s kind of the watered down version of that. So a lot of the things that people are really excited about might not end up looking like that by the time it gets out to everybody. But it’s still important to pay attention to the hype, because that’s a good indication of the direction things are going.
And then understand and think about how that could be applied once you’ve got to do it to the masses, what that might look like if you needed to do a cost effective version of it, or if you had limited budget in making it. So there is always still space to pay attention to the hype. And the reality is only just the bit that’s catching up with it, if you like it. Takes a little bit longer and it just doesn’t look as cool. But it’s still there.
So one of the big things that we look at is trying to think about how we can look for potential in people rather than specifically people who have been trained on a particular thing. So for example, although we’re a software company, we also look for people that join our company with a very different background. So maybe they’ve come from more of a mass background or science background, but that have the ability, and the curiosity, and the interest to learn. And then we look at ways on how we can teach them to code in the way that we like to code. So that allows us to hire from a much wider talent pool.
It means we’re not restricted to just hiring existing software engineers. We can bring people in from all different backgrounds. We also provide a huge amount of training for people as well at the student level. So they get a chance to get their hands on seeing what it’s like to be a software engineer, or working on project teams, getting to understand what Agile project management might look like. And that helps us to identify people that might have the potential to come and work for us. We also do apprenticeships. And we have apprentices at all levels.
So we’ve got somebody that’s come in who’s 17, and then we’ve got people who are doing second degrees who are coming in and looking at it from a second career perspective. So those are all things that we’re doing to try to encourage more people into our jobs.

At a recent Tech Exeter Conference at the University, we asked some of the Speakers for their views on the future of work and the skills that will increasingly be in demand by employers. In this second interview we talk to Kaitlin Gould, Business Development Director at Blue Fruit Software.

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