This month the CF:G team got to speak to the awesome Sophie Caley of Tesco Labs. Read on to find out more about Tesco Labs and how a 100 year old company can evolve to keep up with huge changes taking place in technology.
So, what’s your name?
And what do you do?
Product Manager, Tesco Labs
Can you tell us a little about your career, and how you came to do what you do?
I’d class myself as a wildcard in the tech world, although I’ve worked in IT since leaving school at 15. Aged 21 I chose to completely change direction in my career, and pursued a BSc in Industrial Design. Just 4 days after my degree show I started as the first in-house industrial designer at Tesco - a position which focussed on producing industry leading equipment to transport and display stock. After 6 years as Lead Designer, I moved to Tesco Labs to begin an exciting product management position researching and developing concepts for connected homes, stores of the future and robots.
So Tesco Labs sounds exciting! Can you tell us more about Tesco Labs and the sort of projects you work on?
It is exciting! The work I do really looks at the part that technology will play for our customers in the future, considering how things such as online shopping, home delivery or even interactions with our colleagues may evolve. We’re always looking for ways in which we can help our colleagues and customers - as we say, every little helps!
You joined us for our awesome annual conference this year for a panel about the good and challenging impact tech has on society. What tech are you most currently excited and worried about?
I’m really excited about voice control and pre-empting daily tasks with smart services and devices. I believe we will see a boom in evolved smart hubs such as Amazon Echo and Google home, plus the natural adoption of services such as IFTTT to unlock manipulation of new devices within the home.
As for my concerns I’d have to say that people worry far too much about the changes that technology may bring about! It’s my opinion that in order to be able to use smart technology we need to be less fearful of people trying use disruptive technology against us. For example, people worry that connected door bells or cameras will highlight you are not at home and encourage more break ins. It’s my opinion that you can knock on somebody’s front door or watch their house to establish this and a smart device does not increase this but may actually act as a deterrent.
Can you tell us a bit about how Tesco Labs helps to keep Tesco on the cutting edge of retail?
Tesco Labs forms the research element of Tesco’s Technology division. Within our team, we aim to build a culture of innovation, inspiring and enabling colleagues from all over the business to think about new ways of doing things. We explore and experiment with the latest developments in technology to improve our customers’ experience, and ensure that our colleagues have the tools they need to do the best job they can.
What new innovations can we look forward to at Tesco?
We’re currently exploring the possibilities within the connected home space - one great example of this is our channel on If This Then That (IFTTT.com), which allows our customers to create triggers to assist with their online shop - for instance, if the price of milk drops, then add it to my basket.
If someone wanted to do what you do, what advice would you give them on how to get started?
There is no single “right” way to get into a job like this, but the one thing I would say is that if you feel passionately about technology, it’s never too early or too late to explore the opportunities available. Go along to events, network, meet others in a similar position to you, or even look for a mentor - technology is a very community-minded industry, and the best first step you can take is to make sure you’re part of it.
Tesco Labs also take on grads and have some great opportunities available in tech. Could you tell us a little more about these and how people can find out some more?
Tesco offers positions for school leavers, apprentices and graduates as well as summer internships. If you’d like to join us the best thing to do is check out www.tesco-earlycareers.com - but if you see us at an event, come and say hi too!
Thanks so much Sophie! It's been great speaking with you.
To celebrate Tesco's amazing support of CF:G and getting more women into tech, Sophie has kindly offered to meet one of our community and give then a VIP guided tour of Tesco labs and a mentor coffee session to help you bounce ideas on anything tech career related (how to get into tech, what it's like as an industry, what should you do to be spotted by recruiters etc.)!
To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, just tweet us @codefirstgirls with an answer to the question 'what question would you most want to ask Sophie about tech' including the text '@codefirstgirls @tescolabs' in the tweet.
Closing date for entries is Weds 21st Dec, and we'll be drawing the winner in the new year!
Code First: Girls