William Hobden, Associate Software Engineer at Maersk plays a key role in supporting our digital transformation. After university William pursued a career in game design but soon realized his passion for coding and building software.
Did you always know you wanted to work with coding? If not, what got you interested in coding?
Absolutely not. No, I started out as an artist, an illustrator and I still am to this day on the side.
I studied at FutureWorks in Manchester, which is an offshoot of UCLAN (in Preston), and spent 3 years there to study a BA with Honors in Games Design and graduating with a First. Within the first two years of that course, we covered all aspects of game design. A big part of that is actually programming so that was my first real taste of coding.
How did you end up working for Maersk?
After University I did go down the game-art path for a while, but I started to feel this itch that needed to be scratched with exposure to coding. I wanted to pursue that in a big way, so I started to look for opportunities and found an apprenticeship for a fishery company – It turned out to be Maersk. A global giant that was a bit scary but an attractive challenge at the same time. I went ahead and applied for it and here I am two years later.
I started to look for opportunities and found an apprenticeship for a fishery company – It turned out to be Maersk.
Where are you based?
I am currently working from home on most days from Reading, but the team are now starting to try and go back to the Maidenhead Office. It’s nice to break up the week and see faces in person again. Maersk have thankfully been flexible with easing people back into office work, and I hope that flexibility continues now that we’ve proven to be as effective working from home as in the office. I think having some sort of social interaction during work is important for mental health though. So at the moment, it’s a great balance.
What motivates you?
I think with coding, being an artist my whole life it fulfills a part of me that is satisfied with seeing people interact with what you make. With portraits and illustrations, it is definitely not that kind of experience because you are seeing people look at your stuff and then move on. With coding there is that extra connection that motivates me to make stuff for people to use and interact with – I think that is the biggest motivator for me.
How is your experience with working for a global company with so many nationalities and cultures?
I think it is great because Maersk is so global. We are a mix of everybody, and we need to work together to make the whole thing work. Unfortunately, because of Covid, I was not able to experience so much of that in the office. I did get a big taste of it when I started working full time but then covid hit and I was taken away from that. Usually, you have the opportunity to mingle when you go to the coffee machine and speak to all sort of characters, but it is slowly getting back to that, thankfully. It is definitely an interesting mix of backgrounds that you get to meet.
I think it is great because Maersk is so global. We are a mix of everybody, and we need to work together to make the whole thing work.
Have you worked on any projects you can share a bit about?
During my time as an Apprentice, I was working on a tool for a Tug Scheduling application. This tool needed to automate a process that was previously quite cumbersome and tedious, often requiring 1,000s of lines of excel to be translated into data that our web-app could present to the user. The tool essentially requires the user to assemble various patterns of Tugs, Crews and Shifts that would be assembled for a given timespan. After I spent time on a proof of concept, the team decided it had enough value to integrate into the main application rather than being just a companion tool that developers would use. It is now being used by port managers around the world to generate their schedules in a fraction of the effort than what was previously.
What advice would you give young students or graduates looking to pursue a career in the tech-industry?
The best advice I can give is from personal experience. What I found helped me the most was having a goal. There were moments where I got stuck and demotivated because I could not finish a project. But essentially what I did not have was the big focus, a target to aim towards. Therefore, I would emphasize to set an end goal. It is just more motivating to keep some kind of focus in your learning.