May 18, 2018 Stewart Marshall

Living the Dream

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a large part of my career working in the world of commercial research and development, designing and developing cutting edge software that’s used by thousands of companies around the world.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder how it is that I ended up there. It certainly wasn’t anything I set out to achieve. We hear stories all the time about entrepreneurs with grand plans who’ve gone on to make millions, but I never had such aspirations. In fact bizarrely, I can recall a time in my teens when I had no desire to work indoors at all. I wanted to work outdoors as a whatever would let me work outdoors person. That said, I quite fancied being a bus driver too. I had a bit of a thing for the red London Routemaster bus.

Education

From the earliest age though, I really wanted to be a teacher, something that I’ve been lucky enough to do from time to time during my professional career. For me, it is a true joy to experience that moment when the penny drops for someone. To see the comprehension dawn and the smile that follows is truly inspiring. Sadly for me though, the world of 1980s education and I were not best suited, and having failed to be engaged by the scholastic establishment, my teaching aspirations seemed unlikely to be truly fulfilled.

I bummed around for a couple of years until finally deciding that I needed a qualification of some sort. As it was the late 80s and computers were everywhere, and undoubtedly the future, I took a 2 year course in computer studies. Strangely, I hadn’t even thought about doing this until the day I looked at the list of available courses. I’d tinkered in the past with a little BASIC programming, but nothing beyond the trivial, so it was perhaps a little odd that I chose a career in IT.

That said, if I consider all that went before, it’s not really that surprising.

Bit of a Geek

There have been two common themes throughout my life. The first was the desire to teach and the second was a love of innovation, inventions and problem solving. I’d watch any TV show that showed off new ideas and gadgets, and as this was the early 80s, everything had a “silicon chip” embedded in it. And I was a puzzle nut too. The shelves in my bedroom were covered in puzzle books, Rubik’s Cubes of various sizes and a host of other strange problems my mum bought to occupy my rather active mind. I was none too shabby at cryptic crosswords by the age of 15 or so either. I was even the owner of a ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64.

During my course, I learned and subsequently forgot COBOL. At one point, I recall a conversation with a classmate where I told him that it was too complicated and that one day I’d write a new programming language. I wasn’t entirely serious, but the basis for my future was defined in that single statement.

The simple notion that it should be so much easier has been a fundamental driver for me and is an idea that has gone on to define the better part of my career. Indeed, much of my time in R&D was spent building software to make more software so that other programmers could be spared the difficulty, complexity and inanity of writing low level code.

It wasn’t quite a new programming language, but it was a pretty close effort.

People first, technology second!

MarshallFloyd has a different target audience, but that fundamental tenet remains constant. Above everything else, I believe that IT should be simple, and while I still love technology and innovation, it is my passion for education that means that I look first and foremost for a human solution, long before I look for the technical.

And that’s how it should be!

When we think about technology it’s all too easy to think in terms of silver bullet solutions and a computer doing everything for us, but the reality is that it is the people that will make the real difference.


Today’s Top Takeaway

People first, technology second!


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