Nick Truby

Joining the company in the middle of a pandemic, hear from Nick to discover what his role entails, how he got into tech, and more.

What is your current role at BT and what team do you sit in?

My job title is Software Engineer Professional, but more specifically I'd say Frontend UI Web Developer. I am responsible for a website’s user-facing code and the architecture of its immersive user experience. Our teams are broken down into Alliances, Tribes and then Squads. My Alliance is “Learn & Buy Broadband and Entertainment”, my Tribe is “Join & Add Broadband” and my Squad is “Choose”. So, I work on the web pages where new customers choose which broadband products they would like to purchase.

What do you love most about your role as a Software Engineer in the Digital team?

There are several things that come together to make this an enjoyable role for me. It’s a collaborative role so I enjoy building relationship with others and working together. I enjoy that I’m trusted to manage my own time, and use “smart-working” to find a flexible schedule that works for both my life and the business. I get the best of both worlds by working from home when I need and having the most amazing workspace at Three Snowhill in Birmingham for when I do want to work in the office. I enjoy building new experiences from scratch, I have to figure things out, solve problems, design solutions and then I enjoy using what knowledge I’ve built up to then help and support others. 

How was your experience of joining in the middle of a pandemic and what support did you receive?

I think for tech, especially where teams are based in different locations around the world (and the UK), that onboarding remotely due to the pandemic was just business as usual. There was plenty of support throughout, during the interview process I had regular contact with the talent acquisition team who kept me informed at each stage. During the hiring process the new hires team were there to answer questions I had. My line manager stayed connected on WhatsApp ahead of my start date when she was sending out my equipment and new laptop for example. When I started, I met with my line manager, a senior developer who was there as a specific buddy/mentor and then I had my squad members which included several other developers I can turn to as well. I made the effort to ensure I met everybody and had the normal 1-2-1 chat I would have had bumping into them in the office. There was plenty of self-learning too, reading documentation and other resources to brush up on the BT way of doing things. And the BT tech team service helped get my laptop/MacBook/accounts and passwords all set up and working.

Can you share some of the projects you’ve been working on?

I started working on a journey called ‘Join-Broadband-Options’, it’s the part of buying broadband where customers are given lots of choices: ‘do you want to take out TV, BT Sport, Home phone, etc.’ Then after a short period the entire department has gone through a squad pivot, we are now all in new squads working on an entire Join-Broadband end-to-end journey which is a brand-new experience as we move away from old legacy backend systems. My new squad is working something very similar to “Options”, we call it “Choose”. To start with we are currently building the BT Full Fibre products to be sold through So, I’ve already got experience of building designs for two of our brands already!

People have the idea that Software Engineers code 9-5. Do you want to break that myth?

It certainly isn’t the guy in a dark room wearing a hoody cliche is not how we work at all. Yes, our primary responsibility is to write code and bring the designs to life but designing the solution and figuring out what we will be building and how (especially when it’s a new solution) is a large part of the job. It’s a very collaborative experience working together with the other colleagues in different roles as part of my squad. The 9-5 isn’t set in stone either, if there are meetings to be had then they normally they fall between 10 and 3 (it’s something we are empowered to agree at a squad level), I’m given the freedom to flex my hours to whatever suits best to me, I still put in the same number of hours but often start or finish later, or break the day up differently depending on what I’ve got on.

What tech stack do you use at BT?

On the front end we are developing using React on the Next.JS framework, in TypeScript, and using and SCSS modules for styling. Currently most API’s we are working with are REST but GraphQL is just around the corner and we’ll likely be utilising Apollo Client for that, and we are using Jest for our unit testing. In the Mobile app world, they are transitioning over to using Flutter and I think the intention will be to use this for Web too in the future when it’s more mature.

What impact does your work have on the business and our customers?

Everything we are working on is customer facing so it has a direct impact whether they choose to buy products and services from us, which naturally will impact the business performance. We’re aiming to improve that customer experience with every journey that we are working on. We’re building out experiences that put the customer at the heart of what we do and are personalised to them, intuitive, easy to use, safe and secure. We have a strong focus on accessibility, we want every customer visiting our sites to have the same great experience, I really enjoy that this is part of our day-to-day and not an after-thought.

How did you get into tech?

In my previous career I had progressed over the years and found myself on a career path that was mostly revolving around management and leadership, and less about “the work” itself. I’ve always been a doer and I found myself craving something different. I research lots of options as a career change, I settled that I wanted to learn a skill, a skill that fit well with my talents and offered opportunities to grow & change over time. I wanted to work in an industry that showed promise and opportunities for the future. Ideally a role that could offer me a better work life balance and more flexibility than I’d had before. I’d always been that go-to guy for anything IT related, love a good spreadsheet, and dipped my toes in lots of IT things in the past. I also had a cousin who worked in web development so he became a big resource and mentor for me, answering lots of my questions and helping me discover what might be the right fit for me. Ultimately, I decided tech was the way to go, I then decided to go down the bootcamp education route to teach me the fundamentals of coding. After that I then self-taught and did more learning online. Then I managed to secure some part-time work developing in TypeScript on Angular, and followed that by securing this full-time position at BT.

What skills and attributes do you think make for a great Software Engineer?

There are a lot of soft skills, most importantly working with others and building relationships. The business is big, there are lots of different people doing different things and therefore they are experts in this, and gurus in that. It’s important to be comfortable asking questions and finding answers and the more you do that, the easier it gets, the quicker it gets, the more natural it becomes. On the coding side of things, I think it’s important to be open to feedback and not get defensive. There isn’t one way to code things and there can be many approaches to one problem, so it’s important we can code review and give each other guidance on how to improve. Also, the obvious one: problem solving. The answer isn’t always obvious so learning what and how to google things becomes a skill. All these things (and more) add up to great productivity.

What do you get up to when you’re not coding?

More DIY projects than I should be doing at once, I’m always getting told off for starting the next project without finishing the one before, but I very much enjoy working with my hands and I like to keep busy. My Fiancé and I have two children together, a little boy called Arthur who is 2 years old, and a little girl called Lily who is just two months, so lots of family things together and meeting up with our families. I’m also a keen mountain biker, I like to snowboard when I can get away and I enjoy console gaming, mainly Call of Duty: Warzone or RPG games.

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