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Supermarket to Ambition: Ian Proves It’s Never Too Late to Chase Your Dream Tech Career

  • Ian moves from 15-year role to dream role at age 40.
  • Says it’s worth it for anyone scared to make the leap and his wellbeing has improved massively.
  • Employer prefers frequent web courses instead of university degrees.
  • This is important as  many people are switching industries due to redundancies and may not want to go to university.

After 15 years working as a store manager for Tesco, Ian Brown decided he wanted to pursue his true passion of becoming a web developer, so quit his long-standing job as manager to pursue his passion.

Now at the age of 40, just two years after first working at Illustrate Digital, Ian has elevated himself from Junior Back-End Developer to Lead Back End Developer and now to his new role as Head of Operations, which he considers his dream job.

Ian Brown, Head of Operations at Illustrate Digital, says:“I’d always wanted to be a web developer, but I just always felt that it was too late to move on to something new. Most people go to university straight out of school, not in their late thirties.

It’s definitely paid off though. I’m much happier doing something that I genuinely enjoy, rather than just doing something to pay the bills and get through.”

Just two of the 18 employees at Illustrate Digital have degrees relevant to web development, and the rest took it upon themselves to develop their skills based on what’s available online.

Most industries, such as digital, are changing everyday, so something that may have been taught in university two years ago won’t be as relevant as something learnt from a more recent course online. However, the principles and theories taught in universities can form a valuable foundation for a successful career in tech.

Scott Jones, Managing Director at Illustrate Digital, says:

“I see willingness, motivation and experience just as important as having a degree in something related to web development. You can teach someone new skills, but you can’t teach someone to have passion or a good attitude, this should be up to themselves.”

While Illustrate Digital is still hiring a number of roles, it’s estimated that a quarter of employers will make staff redundant due to the pandemic, according to a survey by People Management.

This could mean that a lot of people, no matter how old or young, will have to make career changes as there won’t be enough jobs in their current career path.

“We’re very fortunate that we haven’t made any redundancies, but we have noticed more than six times the amount of job applications for each role, so the industry is of course going to be more competitive.”

“While people have time on their hands, I strongly suggest that people take it upon themselves to take a self-development course or spend time learning by exploring and practicing with projects you’re passionate about. Self-learning can be equally as successful as a degree and you always want to be on top of your game, especially with many more people fighting for positions once the pandemic is over.”

Illustrate Digital is one of Europe’s leading WordPress agencies and is dedicated to both user experience design and WordPress platform development. Their clients include Hodge Bank, National Theatre Wales and Penguin Random House, and they’ve even won six new clients during Covid-19.