Melissa Howe is a technical manager at EMIS Health, and before this she was a Lead Software Engineer in Test, where she led the automated testing for the iOS EMIS Mobile application. She also worked with the Android team to ensure that the testing framework and testing scenarios are fit for purpose. Melissa has been an EMIS Health employee for five years, during which time she’s worked in various testing roles and as a team scrum master (the facilitator for an agile development team).
“…You don’t have to be a coding genius – a logical mind is the most important thing to have for creating software and solving problems…”
Please can you tell us about your career to date?
I’ve worked at EMIS Health for five and a half years, progressing from a junior tester up to a lead, and I’m now just starting a new role as a technical manager. Prior to EMIS Health, I worked as a games developer after graduating with a degree in interactive media design. I joined my university course being more interested in the design side of technology, but I enjoyed the programming side and found that I could still express creativity that way. That’s how I got in to technical testing.
What does your role involve on a day to day basis?
My role as a lead software engineer in test involved writing automated tests to check that our mobile application behaved as expected. It also involved analysing and agreeing that expected behaviour with a product specialist, as well as the developer creating the app. My new role as a technical manager will be a continuation of automated testing, with a mix of line management, and delivery reporting as well.
Before you worked at EMIS Health you worked on video games. How do tech roles in the entertainment and healthcare sectors vary?
There is a lot to think about when creating a technology solution to be used in healthcare. Software bugs can have a huge effect on a lot of people and affect their health, whereas if there is a bug in a game nobody will get hurt! It’s interesting to learn how the healthcare systems are used and help medical professionals with their job.
How are tech solutions in healthcare driving improved patient care?
Consider the benefits of the following: efficient and safe communication between clinicians, reduction in medication errors, access to reliable information. These three things are just the tip of the iceberg. Each one of these, a revolution in itself.
You’ve worked on a few different roles at EMIS Health. What has kept you with the organisation?
Knowing that what you are doing is making a difference to people’s lives. We’re improving the way in which patient care can be provided.
On a practical level, the office is also really friendly and in a peaceful location with lots of outdoor space and wildlife. This is much more peaceful than town, plus it stops me from spending money which I would working in a city centre!
What is your advice for girls and women who are interested in careers in tech but don’t know where to start?
Try a few different avenues to find the one which you enjoy the most, and keep up to date with the latest tech as it’s a fast-moving industry. There’s lots of technology meet-ups around the country which are great for networking and discussing the latest trends. My favourite is the Leeds Testing Atelier, which is a fantastic, popular event.
Is there any such thing as ‘knowing it all’ in tech? How to we break down the perception that you have to be a coding genius to work in the space?
Absolutely not! It changes so frequently and there is a lot to learn. You don’t have to be a coding genius – a logical mind is the most important thing to have for creating software and solving problems.
What is coming up next for you and EMIS Health?
Starting my new role as a technical manager, and a department transition in to a new ‘pod’ way of working.