Episode 33 – Pride Comes Before A Fall with Heather Downing

 In Podcasts

Heather Downing is a passionate coder and entrepreneur. She is also an international technical speaker and co-host of the YouTube channel “The Hello World Show”. She also likes to encourage those with non-traditional backgrounds to enter the world of software development and is an advocate of women in tech.

In this episode Heather talks about how she started her career in I.T. and why you should consider becoming a thought leader in your field, even early on in your career. Heather also discusses the importance of asking for help and the consequences of not doing so as well as why a career in I.T. is great for anyone who likes to be challenged.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:54) – Phil introduces Heather

(01:22) – Heather tells us that she’s a career changer have started in the I.T. field six years ago

(01:30) – Heather talks about her traditional upbringing and her fascination with the way movies are made

(01:56) – She wanted to know how CGI was done and discovered that programs are what creates it

(02:08) – Heather is now writing programs of her own that feel like magic to people which she loves

(02:27) – Flash animation is one of the things what Heather became interested in

(02:49) – Heather talks about how she approached a company in her area asking to watch them work

(03:25) – At the same time Heather was putting herself through a course to jump start her I.T. career

(03:37) – The company took Heather on as an intern even though she had no experience


(03:46) – Unique Career Tip: Heather talks about something that changed her career and has also changed the careers of other

(04:08) – “Embrace external thought leadership”

(04:13) – Put your ideas and thoughts down on paper or online and share it with people

(04:33) – The moment that you share your thoughts and ideas automatically makes you a better communicator

(04:39) – People then take you seriously no matter where you are in your career

(04:56) – Once you do so companies take you very seriously almost right away

(05:01) – If you’re struggling or considered average, start talking about how you’d make things better and put it out there

(06:17) – Once you have recognition you get chances and opportunities. It’s not reliant upon luck

(06:48) – Make sure that you pay attention to what is needed; what is important to the person you’re working for or the person you’re working with


(07:41) – Worst Career Moment: Heather talks about a time when she did not ask for help and should have done

(08:05) – When we want to prove ourselves sometimes we don’t want to show weakness

(08:27) – Heather decided to take the first assignment given to her the moment she became a senior

(08:32) – She didn’t know what it was and didn’t ask any questions

(09:10) – Heather says that she was never previously trusted to go off and do something on her own

(09:30) – Rather than ask, Heather left working on the assignment to the last minute and only completed about ten percent of what was required

(10:09) – Unfortunately it was a crucial part of the project for the client and was not finished on time because of what Heather had done

(10:19) – This led to Heather losing her job because the company lost the client which was eighty percent of their business

(10:33) – Heather says that not only had she endangered her own career but endangered others jobs as well simply because she hadn’t asked for help


(11:35) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Heather talks about taking part in her company’s twenty fifth anniversary

(12:04) – The original founders of the company, a digital advertising agency, flew in for the event

(12:30) – Heather’s created an Alexa skill about the history of the company

(12:47) – Heather had to learn about web sockets to enable images to display and videos to play, all triggered by voice

(13:10) – The founders got very emotional when they were introduced to Alexa. Alexa thanked them and then showed them old company photographs and videos

(13:47) – The founders then brought other people in from major companies to watch and listen

(14:21) – Heather is really proud of being the person asked to create the experience for the company


(14:33) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Heather says that it’s a career that allows you to use your right and left brain

(14:46) – If you’re always looking for a new challenge then I.T. is the perfect career for you

(14:59) – Whatever we’re doing with machine learning or artificial intelligence, we still have to have somebody being the taskmaster

(15:16) – Heather is excited that the next generation of developers have the opportunity to create the future

(15:56) – Heather believes that machine learning is an area to focus on because it has ten to twenty years of opportunity ahead


(16:07) – The Reveal

(16:18) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “Building something from nothing”

(16:27) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “No one else knows what they’re doing either, so give it a go”

(16:39) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”Find a place to immerse yourself, like a user group or something like that”

(16:54) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “I’m terrible at blogging and I need to get better and becoming a good leader”

(17:19) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Vulnerability”


(18:29) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Heather says that at some point you’re going to get burnt out

(18:52) – Sometimes it’s due to the people we work with and sometimes it’s self-inflicted

(19:01) – It’s important to learn how to revive yourself

(19:09) – Ask yourself the question, “why did I get into this in the first place?”

(19:24) – Start to find ways to fall in love with it again


3 Key Points:     

  1. Consider becoming a thought leader and sharing your knowledge, even early in your career
  2. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. If you don’t know something then ask for help.
  3. The I.T. field can provide a great career for anyone who likes to be challenged


Resources Mentioned:

  • quorralyne.com – Heather’s website
  • LinkedIn – Heather’s LinkedIn profile
  • @quorralyne – Heather’s Twitter handle
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