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Spotlight on... Gilly Ames, front-end developer

Chris Roper, Spotlight

10th October 2017

Gilly Ames, front-end developer and boardgames enthusiast, steps into the spotlight this month to explain how we make it easy for customers to interact with us... 


Why did you join Octopus?

Before joining Octopus, I’d spent around four years figuring out what I wanted to do and learning the best techniques to do it. I worked as a consultant for a while, then at Travelex where I helped build international payment apps. They do fantastic engineering there and I learned a lot, but I wanted to do something I really cared about. I looked at a few things, but decided working in renewable energy was where I could make the most positive impact. 


What do you do?

I focus on improving what our customers see and interact with (like the website), and the tools that help our operations team serve customers better. 

I also try to make our developers’ lives easier by introducing new technology – anything that lets them respond to customer needs faster and more efficiently.


What makes working at Octopus different to other companies?

What’s brilliant about working on front-end here is accessibility. Ashley, our lead front-end developer, has done an amazing job of making sure this is at the forefront of people’s minds. People sometimes think this only affects a small percentage of the user base, but making the site more useful for people using screen readers, or those with dyslexia or autism, inherently makes it more useful for everyone. 

With regards to development in general, the deployment system we have here is phenomenal. The fact we can write code and see it go live within an hour is a triumph, and lets us act on customer feedback really fast. You need a good set of dev-ops people to set up such a fast pipeline, and you need a lot of confidence in your own developers for it to work. So it’s only something you can do when you’ve got a mature team of good people.


What are you working on at the moment?

I've just finished upgrading our tariff page, adding the amount of CO2 you save on our tariffs against the average Big 6 standard variable tariff. We've tried to make it fun and relatable by working out the number of trees (as well as how much money) you save just by switching to us.

I’ve also been doing work to clean up the customer account page. We’ve made it clearer when we need something from the customer, and added a reassuring message if we’ve done our checks and everything is okay. When customers log in they can see if their Direct Debit is right, if payments are received, and meter readings are up-to-date. We’ve also improved the look and feel of the page, and added in some Octopus mascots for a bit of personality.


What’s the best thing about your job?

There’s a great vibe here. The people are really talented and enthusiastic about what they’re doing. Greg, our CEO, always includes us in business decisions, and it’s refreshing to work on something you know will make customers’ lives easier. 


And the most challenging thing?

It’s my first job at a startup. I’m used to working at places where the pace is slower. At Octopus it’s really dynamic and exciting because there are so many interesting projects to work on, and juggling them all can be a challenge. They all need attention. But it’s great to work somewhere with such a strong customer focus. 


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