Olivia Cracks the Code


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In addition to graphic design, technology and entrepreneurship, I am always keen to discover more and tackle new projects. Drawn to the renowned Cambridge Startup scene, I recently moved to Cambridge from New Zealand on a grand adventure. Inspired to learn fundamental programming skills to compliment my background in design and marketing, I attended Cambridge Coding Academy workshops and have now joined the Cambridge Coding Team as the marketing communications manager.

So it seems you are a relative beginner at Coding . Did you find it hard at first ? Why do you enjoy doing this activity so much ?

To me, coding is not only a valuable skill to learn, but also a new creative medium to explore. Like design, working with code is an intense, hands on activity that enables you to express your ideas and experiment with digital technology. So, while learning to code is challenging, when you follow the logic and see the visible results, you can easily become absorbed in converting your ideas into code. This motivation help me learn as I enjoyed applying the new concepts to create real products.

What advice would you give to someone who had never tried Coding before and felt apprehensive to start or doesn’t even know how to go about starting ?

If you don’t know any code, don’t worry… just get excited to gain the technical insight into making ideas happen. I started learning the basics at the Cambridge Coding Academy Build a Game and Build a Web App workshops. Building tangible products from scratch broke down the purpose of the different programming elements and explained how the technologies worked. That hand on learning experience makes the whole process exciting and less intimidating. Another way to get started is to learn coding with a friend, taking a pair programming approach. It is always great to have that additional support, you can learn from one another’s approach to coding and discuss how to overcome challenges together.


You must be thrilled to now be doing the marketing for CCA ; what does your role entail and what challenges does it present?

Everything centers around supporting an amazing team to achieve their vision and business objectives. It’s intense, inspiring, and incredibly fun working in a rapidly evolving company. I’m involved with marketing our range of programming workshops and masterclasses that provide the skills to create web games, build web apps and apply data visualization and machine learning techniques.
Currently, students are either missing out on tech education opportunities or are disengaged from computer science curriculums, so we aim to address these barriers and make learning both effective and engaging. To offer more education opportunities, Cambridge Coding Academy are always looking for sponsorship to hold free events for the community.

We recently launched a Free Coding Weekend supported by Cambridge United Community Trust, Marshall Charity, The Raspberry Pi Foundation and The RSA. This initiative enabled students from the Abbey Community to get into coding and have the opportunity to learn an essential skill for their future.

What is your best memory of working for CCA? Why was it so special to you?

The launch of the inaugural Cambridge Coding Summer School was amazing! 55 students aged 14 – 25 joined us at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory for a summer of coding. The week was designed to showcase the power of programming, so that young people see it as a tool to express themselves, irrespective of their chosen field for future. The progress all students achieved was truly inspiring and there were many memorable moments: facebook.com/cambridgecoding.


Cambridge is renowned as one of the main international cities leading the way with regards to technological advancements ? How do you see CCA progressing in the next few years?

Our core activities involve developing personalised techniques and technologies to equip learners with essential programming skills. So we are always creating new content and organising more workshops. The Cambridge Coding Online learning platform will launch later this year, making our content widely accessible to all individuals looking to gain new tech skills. Preparations are also underway for next years residential Coding Summer School, taking place in September 2016!

Bearing in mind the amazing advancements going on in technology how do you keep up to date ?

I attend/blog tech events, follow LinkedIn interest groups and read curated new feeds and articles about tech.

How have your friends and family responded to your passion for Coding – have you found some new recruits close to home?

My father is my biggest supporter, always eager to help me pursue my interests. Coming from a background in Engineering and Strategic Management, he believes coding is an incremental skill to learn and I love screen sharing my work with him. I have also sent videos of my experiences at Cambridge Coding Academy to my two younger sisters who want to get started coding when they join me in Cambridge in a few months.


Is there an ultimate challenge within the world of Coding which the CCA would like to achieve?

Adapting computational thinking to each individual. This mission will underpin our online platform and tailor the learning experience to each user.

What is it that you like so much about Cambridge?

The active startup scene. This innovative, academic and entrepreneurial atmosphere is exactly what I hoped to become a part of and I have met incredible people – making things happen.

What’s your favourite, free thing to do in (or around) Cambridge? Why do you enjoy doing this activity so much?

Wandering. My favourite word is Flaneur – meaning an explorer and connoisseur of the street. I enjoy exploring and discovering quirky new places, then grabbing a coffee. The walk to Grantchester is simply enchanting… it’s a fantastic time to think about new ideas.

Personal ambition besides your work for CCA

Go travelling…. and organise a Cambridge Coding Academy team trip to New Zealand.

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