Spotlight on Jet2.com - Interview with Andrew Fowler, General Manager Systems Development
INTERVIEW: ANDREW FOWLER
GENERAL MANAGER, SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT
What are your key responsibilities in your role?
My main responsibility is managing the three Development Teams. These are the Development Team for Jet2.com, the Development Team for Jet2holidays and also the Central Services Team. My role is to ensure those teams are working on developments that have been prioritised with the product owner by the
Each of our Teams work in two week sprints. I ensure the Teams are on track and manage their workload so they are focussed on the developments deemed by the product owner as prioritised in the business.
What kind of projects are you and your teams typically working on?
There isn’t really a typical week. Generally it will be enhancements to both of our ecommerce systems (Jet2.com and Jet2holidays). A couple of the big projects we have going on at the moment include our recently developed mobile sites for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays. We’re also just about to embark on a big project
to integrate with a new CMS within both booking funnels on Jet2.com and Jet2holidays. We’re looking at rewriting those in new technologies and MVC to make them more lightweight and responsive to the user.
What technologies are most relevant to those sorts of projects?
The most relevant really would be ASP.net, MVC, Web API and WCF, SQL Server 2010 & 2012. We do agile so in terms of process – that means 2 week sprints, daily stand-ups and retrospectives.
How do the Systems Development projects divide across the Teams that you manage?
Occasionally there can be projects that we split across multiple teams. For example a project we have going on at the moment is to make Jet2.com’s platforms PCIDS compliant. This essentially focuses on how our online platforms take customers’payments. We have a project team sitting within the Central Services
Team who are effectively managing the project but, it has been split between the Jet2.com and Jet2holidays Teams to utilise some of their resources.
We try and encourage a collaborative approach across the three Systems Development Teams in our approach to projects. So although you could be based in our Jet2.com Team or our Jet2holidays Team, there could be opportunities to work on projects outside of the standard focus of your Team. This is something that
we are very keen on encouraging.
This helps with development and helps our people to develop skills and learn different areas of our systems, which can only be a good thing.
Does Systems Development come into contact with many other Teams from around the wider business?
Very much so. That has been improved and made a lot easier since we all moved into the Mint (Jet2.com’s new modern central Leeds City Centre offices) in July 2013. On a day-to-day basis any of our teams will liaise with the wider business. When we’re working in 2 week sprints on enhancements for either platform,
the majority of those developments will have come from different areas of the business such as the Revenue Team or the Product Team. When we’re doing that we’ll be liaising with the relevant team on a daily basis to ensure that we are working on the enhancements that they’ve asked for.
To work in systems development you’ve got to have strong communication skills as well as strong technical skills – to be able to communicate with all areas of the business. Often you’ll have to relay technical issues or requirements in a non-technical language, so that people working in other teams can understand the
work that we are doing.
What have been the biggest trends in Systems Development over the last twelve months?
The biggest really have been mobile and responsive design, making sure you’ve got systems – or sites that are available not only on different devices, but also on a number of different operating systems. Primarily both systems (Jet.com and Jet2holidays websites) were only available on a desktop previously. You
probably could use them on a mobile, but they weren’t very usable or mobile responsive. They wouldn’t have adapted correctly with a good look and feel for the device that they were being viewed on. We’ve built two custom based sites for mobile and built two separate apps as well. We also now have two apps for
the iPad that are tailored to give the best experience for a customer using that device. We’ve seen a massive increase in traffic to both platforms on mobile and tablet over the last 12-18 months which has really driven what we have decided to prioritise and work on.
What would you predict will be driving factors for the kind of work you’ll be doing in the next 12 months?
We’ve come to the conclusion now that we need systems that are available on a wide range of devices; and that is only going to increase over the next 12-18 months. The way we build the systems – architecturally – we will have to take account of that. It is the concept that it doesn’t really matter where the system is
hosted. Whether it is on an app, or on a phone, or on a desktop PC, the mechanics behind it should all be the same. It is just a different look or feel – effectively you will see a different wrapper over the top. The functionality should really be very much the same. Building the architecture to accommodate that is probably
the biggest challenge we have over the next 12 months.
Why do you enjoy working for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays?
I joined Jet.com and Jet2holidays in 2008. I started here as someone who was looking for their next career opportunity after university. It was exactly what I wanted really, giving me the opportunity to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. I was given the opportunity to do things I’d never done - working with more
experienced developers and learning new technologies. Working for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has given me the opportunity to move into management, which was always a goal of mine, from the first move to a team leader role, then to management and then to my current role of General Manager – Systems
Development as of last year.
Working at Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has always offered an environment with plenty of challenges. I’ve always been working in situations where I have had to think quickly, which as an individual really helps you develop your skills.
I think if you’re the right kind of individual, you like working hard and getting on with people – different people from different areas of the business – and challenging yourself, then I think Jet2.com and Jet2holidays is a very good place to develop your career.
IQ Tech are an exclusive recruitment partner of Jet2.com - one of the UK's largest eCommerce platforms. Jet2.com are currently recruiting for roles in their Leeds office including: .Net Developers, Support Analysts, BI Applications Developers and .Net Applications Developers...