Episode 205 – Learn to Learn Effectively and Become a Domain Expert with Adam Tornhill

 In Podcasts

Phil’s guest on this episode of the IT Career Energizer podcast is Adam Tornhill. Adam is a programmer who combines degrees in engineering and psychology. He’s the founder of Empear where he designs tools for software analysis.

He’s also the author of “Software Design X-Rays”, “Your Code as a Crime Scene”, “Lisp for the Web” and “Patterns in C”.

In this episode, Phil and Adam discuss how domain expertise enables you to work faster, produce better products and cut down on maintenance. They talk about the future of the industry and whether the pace of change can continue to accelerate. Adam explains why he writes about tech and how it has benefited his career.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

(2.46) TOP CAREER TIP

The most important skill you can have is domain expertise. Understand the product, its context and the end-users.

Knowing your domain enables you to keep things simple. This in turn means that the code you write is simpler. Working this way solves numerous problems and brings commercial benefits which Adam talks about in the podcast.

 

(4.19) WORST CAREER MOMENT

In 1999, Adam worked on the Y2K bug. He came up with an elegant solution, the technical details of which he explains in the podcast. It was shipped. At that time that meant physically sending out CDs which was expensive.

A little while later Adam was working on an unrelated project. He looked at the date and time protocols and realised the solution they had already shipped was not going to work. Naturally, he felt terrible and he was afraid the mistake would cost him his job.

 

(8.52)CAREER HIGHLIGHT

About 15 years ago Adam joined a project that had a hard deadline and was way behind. The package had to be ready in 3 months.

Unfortunately, when he looked at the existing code, he realised there was no way that could happen. Radically, Adam persuaded his manager to let him and his team rewrite it, from scratch. Within 6 weeks they had launched a fully functioning, freshly written system. A huge success for Adam and his team

 

(12.01) THE FUTURE OF CAREERS IN I.T

Adam loves to learn new things. So, the fact that the landscape is changing all of the time excites him, but he wonders if the pace of change can continue to accelerate.

 

(13.03) THE REVEAL

What first attracted you to a career in I.T.? – Adam started writing code as a child in the 80s, so a career in I.T. was a natural progression for him.

What’s the best career advice you received? – Start to write. Adam finds that writing helps him to clarify things and look at them from a different perspective.

What’s the worst career advice you received? – You have to become a manager to build a successful IT career.

What would you do if you started your career now? – Initially, Adam would stay in roles for longer. It feels it is important to learn the project design process from the early stages to launch.

What are your current career objectives? – Getting Empear up and running and becoming an even better communicator.

What’s your number one non-technical skill? – His psychology degree has helped him to understand and motivate those around him. It has also impacted on how he writes his code. He explains how in the podcast.

How do you keep your own career energized? – Side projects, especially those that are radically different from what he is currently working on.

What do you do away from technology? – Adam loves spending time out in the fresh air with his kids.

 

(20.03) FINAL CAREER TIP

Learn to learn. The more programmes and design methods you learn the easier it will be to pick up the next one.

You soon reach the point where you can instantly relate the new thing you are learning to something you already know. When you can do that, you learn far faster.

 

BEST MOMENTS

(0.00) – Adam – “Become a domain expert understand the product, context and your end-users.”

(14.11) – Adam – “Writing is a fantastic learning vehicle, which makes you see things from another perspective.”

(14.44) – Adam – “You do not have to follow the management path to have a successful IT career.”

(20.09) – Adam – “Learn to learn. Gain experience with as many different programming and design paradigms as possible.”

 

ABOUT THE HOST – PHIL BURGESS

Phil Burgess is an independent IT consultant who has spent the last 20 years helping organisations to design, develop and implement software solutions. Phil has always had an interest in helping others to develop and advance their careers. And in 2017 Phil started the I.T. Career Energizer podcast to try to help as many people as possible to learn from the career advice and experiences of those that have been, and still are, on that same career journey.

 

CONTACT THE HOST – PHIL BURGESS

Phil can be contacted through the following Social Media platforms:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/philtechcareer

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/philburgess

Facebook: https://facebook.com/philtechcareer

Instagram: https://instagram.com/philtechcareer

Website: https://itcareerenergizer.com/contact

Phil is also reachable by email at [email protected] and via the podcast’s website, https://itcareerenergizer.com

Join the I.T. Career Energizer Community on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/ITCareerEnergizer

 

ABOUT THE GUEST – ADAM TORNHILL

Phil’s guest on today’s show is Adam Tornhill. He is a programmer who combines degrees in engineering and psychology. He’s the founder of Empear where he designs tools for software analysis.

He’s also the author of “Software Design X-Rays”, “Your Code as a Crime Scene”, “Lisp for the Web” and “Patterns in C”.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AdamTornhill

LinkedIn: https://se.linkedin.com/in/adam-tornhill-71759b48

Website: https://empear.com

 

 

CONTACT THE GUEST – ADAM TORNHILL

Adam Tornhill can be contacted through the following Social Media platforms:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AdamTornhill

LinkedIn: https://se.linkedin.com/in/adam-tornhill-71759b48

Website: https://empear.com

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