April has worked at Nominet since 2016 and is currently the Head of Product in the Registry business.
Nominet is the registry for the .UK domain name, meaning it manages the registrations for .uk website addresses, plus domains ending in .co.uk .org.uk .me.uk, .ltd.uk and a number of other generic domain names too.
Here April tells us about her journey to becoming Head of Product at Nominet.
My role as Head of Product at Nominet
“I’m nearly five years in, yet still get nerdy satisfaction from knowing how crucial Nominet is to the internet and that the work I do has an impact on the future of the .UK domain, our national namespace, and all the millions of people and businesses who rely on it.
The variety in my job is one of the best things about it and I love working with people who passionately care about the internet and how we can make it better. Although a technical background helps, key skills for a role like this are actually ‘soft skills’ first and foremost: communication, strategic thinking and people management.
It’s also important to be organised and be able to step back and see the ‘bigger picture’ so you can drive operational improvements.”
The Tech Sector
“Being in the tech sector means you need to understand some of the technical details as well as the challenges and opportunities, so it’s worth having studied something like computing – but nothing is a replacement for curiosity and interest in the subject matter.
You don’t have to be a specialist though, like a programmer or an engineer; there is a huge variety of opportunities in the tech sector and you’re sure to find one that suits your own strengths.
I wish I’d known about the variety of roles available in this industry when I was 18. I would have been a lot more sure of myself and where I was headed if someone had described this job to me back then!”
Early career ambitions
My earliest ambition was actually to be a vet because I always loved animals, but reality kicked in when I realised what the job would actually entail. Going to an all girls’ school, it was my male friends from outside of school who got me interested in technology; they were always tinkering with computers when we were in our early teens.
At school we had a really engaging IT teacher who noticed and encouraged my interest, so I ended up studying computing right through to A Level before becoming the first student from our school to take the subject at university. I had this sense that tech was only going to become more prevalent in our lives and I wanted to be part of it.
University was initially a bit of a shock as most of my course mates had done more practical, vocational courses at college than I had done at sixth form. It was also alarming to realise that programming wasn’t my thing; theoretically I understand it, but my brain just doesn’t seem to be wired in the right way to do it and that worried me.
What else can I do in tech if not programming? Little did I know.”
Opportunities across tech
I switched my course from pure Computer Science to Information Systems, which proved to be just what I wanted. This change allowed me to swap some coding modules for a range of other subjects, supplementing the technical core of my degree with subjects like maths and psychology.
It was an important learning curve for me – some people are born to code and others are not, but that doesn’t mean the technology world doesn’t have a place for your unique skillset and abilities.
Graduating into the recession of 2008 wasn’t ideal in terms of finding work, plus I still didn’t really know what role or part of the tech sector I wanted to be in. I travelled the world for a year then came home and started blogging about trying to find work in a recession.
By chance, someone came across my blog and invited me to interview for a technical support role at a domain name registrar. I still think about how differently things could have turned out if that hadn’t happened – that job propelled me into part of the tech industry I previously didn’t know existed, but continue to love.
Becoming immersed in the domain name industry so early in my career has meant I’ve built up a lot of specialist knowledge that has been put to good use in different technology roles over the years, even when I have worked outside of this specific industry.
I find it interesting that so few people know how something so essential as the Domain Name System (DNS) works – it’s the very heart of the internet. Some people are happy to just consume tech, but if you’ve ever wondered how your smartphone works, how an app is made or how your browser resolves a website, you’d love working in tech.
It’s a place for the inquisitive, anyone interested in the art of the possible and who enjoys problem solving!”
Feeling inspired? Find out more about starting a career in Product Management by listening to our THIS IS HOW podcast, where we chat to Leon Farrell, Product Manager at Warner Music.