Ash Atighetchi — Front-end developer at Papier
We sat down with Ash to hear about his transition into front-end development, the importance of mentoring, and life at one of London’s coolest eCommerce scale-ups.
- Tagged Interview
- Posted 13th August
Ash has just come to the end of a week-long sprint launching Papier’s new website and brand along with the rest of the technology team at the Camden-based-eCommerce company.
Ash is 7 months into his role as a front-end developer at Papier and this launch was his biggest undertaking so far — a drink and a week off are in order.
"I was always into coding and liked the idea of it, I was maybe secretly a bit of a nerd."
Before starting his most recent role Ash had worked across less-technical, customer focussed roles at startups Trouva and The Plum Guide. “It was great but it wasn’t something I was passionate about… I wanted something more challenging.”
“I was always into coding and liked the idea of it, I was maybe secretly a bit of a nerd.”
Ash had considered tech at the start of his career after graduating with a degree in International Politics. He used Codecademy to develop his skillset. “I just dipped my feet into the world of coding at this point.”
While this was a helpful place to start exploring, Ash noted the need for more structure and guidance to his learning. “I enjoy working independently but I do need structure”.
Before making the move into tech Ash made sure he understood what he was getting into and what working in the industry would look like. “I called up a few people I knew before committing to the change — I think it’s really important to do that.”
Ash made his move into Tech by joining General Assembly on their full-stack programme. Usually hosted in person, the programme was fully remote due to Covid-19. “Maybe due to the pandemic, we had a smaller cohort which was great and I was really lucky with my teacher… coding works so well with the dynamic of zoom as well.”
The programme gave Ash the structure he needed and, with the guidance of his teacher, he successfully completed the programme. It was front-end development that Ash focussed on and enjoyed: “It’s nice to see changes being effected on the screen especially when you’re dealing with code all day.”
"I think there are so many misconceptions about coding as a skill and also how it works in the professional world. If you enjoying solving problems and the logic of it — then you can be great."
Ash joined the 18-person technical team at Papier as a front-end developer and places huge importance on his manager for making the transition work. “If my manager didn’t want to be a manager then I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do — I needed a mentor. I got lucky I guess — he was so important”.
Ash notes the natural tendency of those in tech wanting to mentor. “Teams like it when a junior joins, it’s a nice dynamic — often people like to mentor, I think that is so important. If you guide someone with the potential to be a great coder then they will probably become exactly that”.
We touch on the topic of imposter syndrome. I wanted to know if Ash felt he lacked a knowledge or breadth of concepts because he didn’t study Computer Science. “You’re both (on sitting next to someone who did CompSci) doing the same thing and if you’re good at problem-solving and communicating then you shouldn’t feel that. For me the important things are making sure you have a good mentor and always being open to learning — the people who did CompSci are the minority in our team”
“I think there are so many misconceptions about coding as a skill and also how it works in the professional world. If you enjoying solving problems and the logic of it — then you can be great.”
Ash has a natural ability to communicate, which he developed further in his non-technical roles, that now helps him do his best work. “One of the best parts of my job is working with the design team — communicating with them to explain why something in their designs won’t translate to screen and saying this doesn’t work like that but we can try it out like this.”
The ability to communicate and raise new ideas is something Ash sees as being a way for people from non-tech backgrounds to bring real value to tech teams. “What I lacked in background and experience I hopefully made up with being able to communicate and help. I think the tech industry will be happy to have a lot of these folk who haven’t taken the traditional route — they have such strong communication skills and naturally, they might be a little more extroverted.”