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SHIFT Profile: Andi Fear-Ross

Friday July 10, 2020

Since having a family, Andi Fear-Ross wasn't sure if she wanted to return to her previous events and project management roles. With a degree in Stats and Management Science and keen to upskill to explore more tech career opportunities, she saw an advert for SHIFT in the newspaper and made an enquiry.

"I have always been interested in technology. Tech is now more than ever part of the future, so I knew that it would be a good area to have a greater understanding of. SHIFT interested me because it was really practical, only for a year and a chance to test a new industry to see if it might be for me."

Andi Fear-Ross, 2019 Christchurch SHIFT Graduate

Andi enrolled in Christchurch SHIFT in February 2019 and immediately saw the benefits of hands-on learning in an industry-focused programme. 

"I really enjoyed the practical elements and getting to see/understand a wide variety of IT-related roles and tasks. Having tech specialists come in to talk about different areas and the off-sites to tech businesses were both really enjoyable, and gave you a wider perspective on the whole industry. But the highlight for me was working on the team industry projects."

Andi works on a group SHIFT Studio Project

Andi completed a web application studio project with Big Brother Big Sister Christchurch (BBBS) and quickly realised her strengths.

"I enjoyed the coding and delving into python was fun, working out how to make the code do what you wanted in a simple and clean way. But I felt I was in my element when acting in the product manager capacity - talking to the client, brainstorming, designing the plan/wireframes, keeping the team headed in the same direction and on track to deliver at each sprint."

(L-R) SHIFTers Teo, Josh, Foster, Matt Button from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Andi and Adian. The students updated the Mentors Dashboard in this full stack development studio project  — Image by: Lenore Wright

This positioned Andi well for her final 200-hour industry project and she took on a business analyst placement with BDO Christchurch, a world-leading full-service accounting, audit, tax and advisory firm.

"I had a really supportive industry supervisor who was very engaged with my journey and the whole SHIFT process. I really appreciated the way he shared his time and knowledge to help me to complete my project and engage me in his industry."

Since graduating, Andi is now also giving back to the programme as an industry mentor, working with the 2020 SHIFT cohort to collaborate on an industry project.

"I chair the NZ Canoe Polo Board. The organisation is using spreadsheets as a "database", which isn't ideal. We need a way to collate all the membership information from around the country into one central place. The SHIFT students are working on a database that will allow us to do that. It will reduce the administrators time by distributing the loading of information back to the individual members (who will be able to keep their information up to date), assist with funding applications etc by having visibility of the membership and really help to serve them better."

Andi (R), pictured with Vanessa from Orbica, at one of SIGNAL's many industry networking events.

Asked if she would recommend the SHIFT programme to anyone interested in getting into tech, Andi said:

"I have met great people through SHIFT and I would definitely recommend the programme to others. I really enjoyed getting involved in the Christchurch tech scene and becoming part of the whole community. I have a better understanding of the whole tech industry and how different parts fit together. My skill set has increased and I have greater confidence of where my strengths lie - as a business analyst, a product manager and a strong problem solver who understands coding and what can be achieved." 

Andi is open to opportunities and looks forward to finding "a flexible and busy role in the product manager or business analyst space". This will enable her to continue expanding her new tech skills whilst meeting her growing family's needs.

The next SHIFT intake starts in February 2021 in Christchurch and Dunedin, so if you or someone you know is keen to add tech to their existing degree or make a change in career, get in touch with us at info@signal.ac.nz or call 0800 99 00 24 for a chat about tech opportunities and pathways.

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