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Spotlight 21: Mazz Mosley

Time for another great Spotlight! This time I’m introducing you to Mazz Mosley.  I really like her courage and I think she’s pretty awesome. Thank you Mazz!

About Mazz:
My name is Mazz Mosley. I’ve been working in tech doing backend development and tech leading for over a decade now. My experience spans many slices of the sector; advertising, digital agencies, e-commerce, art startup, government, open data, data science and open source. Python is my favourite language but I can code in over 3 different languages. I dream of one day owning a dog and a cat.

Name: Mazz Mosley
Job: Director of my own Ltd company, houseofmnowster.com. Currently freelancing providing development and tech leadership services.
Favorite website, app or gadget: giphy.com and XBox 360, that’s kind of a gadget right?!
Twitter: My account is currently locked, I do add new followers but reserve the right to deny access, especially bots and bullies they can put themselves in a bin. twitter.com/@mnowster
Site: Like a lot of developers, my own site is the last one I ever get time to work on. It’s currently a single page with bits of info on, I had some help to make sure it was at least nicely designed/laid out. http://houseofmnowster.com/

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I didn’t want a career in tech. I wanted to do a degree in Art. I accidentally fell into computers when I took an A level in computer science purely because I loved playing video games. I was getting C grades for Art and A grades in Computer Science so decided maybe it was worth continuing doing the computer stuff.

Not the most inspirational story right? Lol. I do think it’s important to know that not everyone who works in tech has to have been coding since they were 6 years old or known their whole lives that’s what they wanted to do. I discovered I was good at it, mostly by accident, so I kept going.

What does your working day look like?
Freelancing gives a lot of variety in what my working day looks like, it depends on the client and what my remit is.
Morning’s are usually coffee, emails, standups, meetings and planning what needs to get done and what I want to achieve that day. Backend development is reviewing pull requests, refactoring code, breaking things, implementing new features, sharing knowledge and helping out wherever is needed. My favourite days are when I get to either delete a bunch of code or help the team to achieve a goal or overcome some particular difficulty, those days are the best.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The most well known project I’ve worked on was probably www.gov.uk but the coolest for me was the startup, Artfinder. It was the coolest and most exciting project I’ve ever worked on. I got to bring my love of art into my day job of development. I met one of my favourite street artists, Remi Rough, who signed a book for me, I got face ache from grinning so much. I loved the idea of bringing more art to people and making it accessible. It really was the coolest. Maybe one day I’ll get to work on something like that again.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I think putting people on pedestals is fraught with danger and I’m pretty anti the whole “hero” worship within tech culture. There are many people I respect and appreciate the hard work they do, and continue to do often in hostile environments. Especially Anna Shipman, Trisha Gee, Kathy Sierra and Ashe Dryden.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
Some days I really like it, some days I dream of disappearing to a remote Scottish island with no internet connection, a bag of books, bottle of rum and a dog :) The job can be fulfilling and there’s a broad spectrum of work then “just code”. There’s nothing quite like that special buzzy feeling when you finally nail a bug that’s been causing problems or got your PR merged with that new feature you really wanted to see happen. You can find yourself desk dancing to your favourite song and your team mates make you tea and bring you biscuits to share in the “fuck yeah” moment.

I’ve been doing this a long time now though so I’m not as excitable about shiny new tech as I once used to be. Now, for me, what I like the most is helping to lead a team and show that you don’t have to be an alpha male aggressive or manipulative managery shitbird to do a good job of it. Best feeling is when you’ve helped your team to achieve, grow and feel happy, then I’m happy.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I’ve got a degree in Computer Science. It taught me that I’d have to watch my own back, that people were lazy when it came to levelling up their teamwork skills and that coding is only one part of the job.

If you feel like you’ve missed out on some knowledge, you can learn, but honestly I don’t think anyone is missing out. Well, maybe, the only thing people are missing out on is the confidence to know that people who think you *have* to have degrees are full of shit and elitist. Screw them. Books and google you can learn. Anyone tells you different, send them my way.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
I’m not the best at advice and things are quite different now to back when I started out. There’s a lot more support and groups to meet like-minded people who’ll help out. I guess I’d say, make sure you’ve got some friends you trust, outside of tech, who you can turn too when things go south. I’ve made the mistake of trusting the wrong people in tech and turning to them thinking they were my friends and let’s just say it’s gone badly.

When you’re starting out you look at people who’ve been doing it a while and think it’ll never happen to you, that you’ll always be behind and won’t be knowledgeable and why don’t you know everything already. Try to be kind to yourself, you’ll get there and the sands are always shifting, we’re all constantly learning and re-learning and learning some more.

Extra question from Verena: Have you ever been close to quitting the IT/tech business again and if so what brought you to that point and how did you overcome it?
That’s an excellent question and one I’m afraid I don’t feel comfortable fully sharing publicly. I can say I did leave tech for a while. Determination, time and sheer stubbornness coupled with running out of money helped me overcome it and mount a comeback.

I continually work towards being the kind of leader in tech I wished I’d had, that didn’t tolerate unacceptable behaviour or bully people. The kind that would stand up and be a good shit umbrella, not a shit conduit. Companies talk a lot about wanting your passion from you, but they sure as shit won’t be passionate about you when things are tough or you need their help to deal with bad behaviour.

Also, Python. Coding in Python makes me smile, more than any other language I’ve coded in. Do more of what makes you happy, not what you think you have to do.