Speaker Spotlight: Joby Harding’s Unconventional Journey to Tech

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Meet Joby Harding, a full-stack developer who navigated the different twist and turns of life before starting his tech career. Read on to hear his story…

Can you share a bit about your background?

I grew up in Langney, Eastbourne. Like many [80s] kids I was obsessed with computers and video games. We had an Acorn Electron computer and I learned a bit of BASIC. I really wanted to learn more about programming but books and resources in those days were awful, so I got frustrated and lost interest.

At school, in the early 90s, I was passionate about illustration & graphic design but following some work experience at a studio I started to become disillusioned. The industry was moving towards digital and tools like Photoshop were so basic at the time. I was more interested in learning to create visuals with airbrushes & magic markers.

I dropped out of education before University and took a job running tablet presses in a local pharmaceutical factory not really knowing where to go next.

Did you come up through a “traditional” techie route or has your career taken twists and turns along the way?

I did all sorts before becoming a web engineer including working as a musician in hotels and bars in Egypt, as a security guard at Luton Arndale Centre and the graveyard shift keeping bar at a Holiday Inn.

Eventually I ended up as a page layout technician for a local newspaper in Hull, getting back into design and illustration. I wanted to be my own boss and started doing freelance design work but quickly realised I needed to be able to build websites. In my late 20s I enrolled on a BA in Digital Design which included fundamentals such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

In the first semester we shared coding modules with a BSc course in Web Design & Development and I was hooked. I ended up transferring over to the BSc and never looked back. After graduating in 2011 I returned to East Sussex and got my first Junior Developer role in Brighton.

After that I worked my way up to lead developer in agencies and also as part of an enterprise product team. These days I run my own business as an independent full stack developer working with businesses delivering web applications.

Reflecting on your career, is there a specific moment that stands out as pivotal or defining?

I’m not sure there’s a specific one. Throughout my life there have been a handful of moments where I’ve felt deeply I need to change course or take action. I think it’s important to recognise when those happen and act on them.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self as you embarked on your professional journey?

A decent plan today is better than a perfect plan which might never come; sometimes good enough is good enough. Don’t get hung up listening to pundits selling how to be successful. Everyone has their own life circumstances; figure out what happiness and fulfilment look like for you.

Looking ahead, what’s your big prediction for the tech landscape in 2024?

Elon Musk will deliver the overdue hoverboards we were promised in Back to the Future 2.

Anything else you would like to promote to our community?

If you’re a business looking for an experienced, straight shooting independent full-stack developer a few days a month to help you deliver web applications check me out! https://fullstackappco.com

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Want to hear more from Joby? Watch his previous talk on our YouTube channel!

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