How long have you been in IT?
I started coding when I was eight years old, soon after getting my first computer. I quickly became bored with all the games and decided I wanted to build something myself.
I’ve been in IT for forever – 20 years. I started my career as a hired gun for large corporates, like IBM and PwC, helping them to deliver challenging projects. Then, I moved on to web-focused work for companies like Publicis.
I joined Campus Society for the chance to do something great. I saw Rashid (our CEO) as a promising entrepreneur taking his first steps and was inspired by his energy, passion and drive to make this startup a success.
In addition to working with the team here at Campus Society, it’s all about our larger vision: to connect students globally. Students are the future, and can change the world when they’re able to fully collaborate. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
What is your most interesting project to date?
I created the precursor to Barclays’ bikes, working with Transport for London (TfL) to put the first systems out in Hammersmith. Trialing public bike share systems, working on the challenge of distributed technology, putting tens of thousands of bikes around the city and have them communicate back to a central control. It was great!
Most importantly, this project was about making a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is an aspect of my work that I enjoy the most. I can’t excited the notion of doing tech for tech’s sake – I find that frustrating. There needs to be a bigger reason.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
My biggest challenge at the moment is to nurture the growth of world’s biggest student community, specifically giving the community teams the tools they need to grow Campus Society in a safe, fun and inspirational way.
The nature of online communities does have a subculture of trolls, though we now have advanced tools to control this. Alongside these tools, there needs to be a movement towards self-moderation and control, as the community continues to expand.
What technology were you working with ten years ago?
I was working a lot with embedded communication platforms which now form the backbone of what has become known as the ‘Internet of Things (IoT)’ – connected devices that augment daily living or practical tasks. Think Apple Watch, a connected device that is looking to make your everyday easier; there’s value in that concept.
What is your favourite technology of all time?
This one is hard to answer. There are obvious things like the Internet, which helps bring most technology to its audience. Then there are amazing, game-changing pieces of hardware like early PDAs – the Palm and iPod, which set the foundation for modern smartphones. On a more personal level, I have always been fascinated by Artificial Intelligence and I am excited by the modern frameworks that are making it a reality.
How will the Internet of Things affect your organisation?
The always-connected nature of millennials means that the way they learn has evolved and our goal is to facilitate this process the best we can. Students helping students is core to our philosophy and very soon that could be through Virtual Reality lectures or study groups or crowd-sourced research projects.
What smartphone do you use?
What three apps could you not live without?
Email, WhatsApp and Music apps. Boring hey!
What new technology are you most excited for a) your business and b) yourself?
I am really lucky that I can answer both these at once – AI (Artificial Intelligence) and NLP (Natural Language Processing). Our platform is a communications platform in design and through the use of AI and NLP, we are striving to deliver rich, relevant and engaging experiences to our audience. What can I say, watch this space!
If you weren’t doing the job you do now, what would you be doing?
I would probably be working for my own or another startup in the IoT space. Ideally, I’d still be looking to create clever devices that do simple useful things.