iTexico, an Improving Company is always striving to attract the right talent: experts in their field who are passionate about asking the right questions and solving the right problems, in order to help our clients achieve digital innovation and business transformation.
The Improver Spotlight Series aims to highlight the talented individuals who work here, and today it’s our Solutions Architect turn: Ian Howarth.
With no Spanish knowledge whatsoever, Ian Howarth left his home in the UK back in January 2014 to join iTexico, an Improving Company, as a mobile developer. We sat down with our Solutions Architect to discuss what his job is like, his experience while exploring a completely different country and culture, and his growth from development to solutions architecture.
“Seniority at iTexico, an Improving Company, is actually a little strange for me. I have 2 years of experience as a Solutions Architect, because back in the day, 7 years ago, after a few years of being here, I went back home to the UK but actually ended up missing Mexico so much that I came back 2 years ago and joined the Solutions team.
How would you describe your job in 4 words?
Helping clients solve problems.
Explain what your job consists of:
I work a lot with pre sales more than anything else, helping understand client needs, what tech stacks they’re gonna be using, what kind of team we’re going to need. For example, does this project need a lot of QA? do we need a lot of development or some back end work? etc. There’s also a lot of innovation involved like design workshops, product design sprints, or innovation workshops like we call them. I also work with existing clients as well, doing very similar work whether they want to expand or build something new. Actually when I first started working here, the big thing was mobile, everyone wanted mobile apps. Then it was cloud, so we needed to become microservice based. And now the trend is heading towards machine learning to automate processes, and make valuable connections or trends with a lot of data. I work mostly on designing products around these newer and interesting technologies. I help understand costs of things, estimating budgets, time constraints, etc.
How does a workday look like for you?
I work a lot with clients, so my work day is quite filled up with meetings and talking to them face-to-face, follow-up interactions, estimations, or taking the product they already have and breaking it down. Understanding all the pieces that we might need to rebuild or work with, refactor, or even just completely replace their products, using something like a design sprint, where we say: we don't need this part or we’re gonna target this audience instead... So a lot of it is client interaction whether it’s directly speaking to them or looking at products they already have in place. I also work with the delivery team as well. I’m kind of in the middle between sales and delivery and that’s always interesting. I like to keep up with my existing accounts: accounts that I helped build out the phasing of and the planning, and just make sure that they go in smoothly. As a solutions team we need to keep up with the latest technologies, tools and methodologies, so there’s a lot of training as well.
What motivates you to get up and go to work?
I actually find my job very interesting. Every engagement that I work on has different goals, demands, and restrictions. Projects are always something new, we help take all the concepts and modernize it, even if it’s just something simple like going paperless which is now a big thing. And it’s moving towards more interesting things as we move into the cloud and microservices as we try to build things in a very modular way. I don’t find any problem with getting up and going to work, it’s actually quite fun being part of shaping those products.
Why was iTexico, an Improving company, your decision to continue your career? And how has your career grown since then?
That’s an interesting question because as I mentioned I’ve been here for around 7 years with a gap in the middle. 7 years ago everything was very different, I came on board as a mobile developer. I worked at Appcelerator in California for a year and became an expert on their tool to build mobile applications. At that point in time, iTexico, an Improving Company, was looking for developers with that expertise. I came on board through a mutual colleague, he said: “Mexico is amazing, you need to check it out, this place is great to work”. So I leaped into it because I thought it would be interesting to move someplace new and see something different. So I joined as a mobile developer, then I became a teacher and started giving internal and external trainings in the U.S. as well so I got to travel a lot. Then I became a team lead and I worked on a lot of internal stuff, like building out the sprint methodology before it was really defined. By the time I left for the UK I was in charge of a big portion of the development team, and then I came back as a solutions engineer because the favorite part of my job was working face to face with clients and shaping their products. Since I’ve been back in the company for the past 2 years the solutions team has grown quite a bit, and I want it to continue to grow horizontally, but also vertically as we step into more technologies.
How has iTexico, an Improving company nurtured your development as a developer and solutions architect in the professional landscape?
I’ve had the opportunity to take lots of trainings. We also do a lot of internal pitch meetings, so people who are interested in or just experts in a particular field, can share their knowledge with the rest of the company, which it’s always fun to attend. That’s quite an active way to learn and nurture and keep up to date with things. I’ve also had a lot of guidance from colleagues: I work real closely with the sales team and delivery team, so I’ve had different people in different areas help me grow in their specific area. Having a developer background working in sales was a little bit jarring. I was always able to speak and let people know this is the right way to do something or maybe we could consider doing this, etc. But the actual sales pitch was something I really had to learn, and I had some great guidance from the sales team. Just being pushed into those positions and having the chance to do something like that, or being asked: hey, can you talk at this event? It really builds confidence, so that’s really important. Just having opportunities is a really big part of that nurturing.
What has been your favorite project so far?
That’s a complicated question, but I have to say one of my fondest moments was from a client in Dallas. It may have not been the most interesting thing we’ve done but I got to travel a lot. The work was interesting, we got to work with some data, and learn more about the field that they were in. I was reading about it during my spare time as well to learn how to display this huge amount of quantitative data, so it was quite interesting and a challenge to keep up with. I made a lot of friends there with the development team, I got really close with the client contact too. It was always great whenever I went and saw them or they came to visit us. We had these big team meetups and it was just a really nice bonding experience overall.
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Moving to Mexico in the first place was a huge step for me. I didn't know anybody, not a single person in Mexico, I didn't know any Spanish, not a single word, and it was really quite jarring. In fact, I turned up one Monday morning in the office with my luggage and was just terrified about where I was even going to stay. And this was before we started having more and more people joining from around the world, I was one of the first ones so it was a little difficult back then. And straight away somebody offered to help me and since then I’ve made more friends who would help me set my internet up or find apartments, etc. It was just wonderful to meet all these friendly people. It's one of the things I really love about Mexico. But the decision to take the first step and just jump into something, it was actually really scary.
What’s your next step? What are some goals you’d like to accomplish in life or at Improving in the next few years?
So now that iTexico is a part of Improving, I think my career path has actually opened up a lot, it’s exploded actually: we have so many more clients, so many more offices and team members to work with and interact with. It's gonna be really exciting and I can already see it snowballing and getting more and more heavy. There's just more to do. My goal is to work on building out the Improving solutions team to make it bigger and better than we ever could have done it before.
Now that iTexico has become part of the Improving family, we’re actively looking for talented individuals in many software development tech stacks who are looking to become a part of our family. If you are up for a challenge and want to become part of our team, head over to our careers section and see if there’s a spot open for you.