Kendall Flutey took a risk by following her heart into the IT industry. Now she’s encouraging others to follow her lead.
She left a graduate position at KPMG after just one year. After studying web development at Enspiral Dev Academy in Wellington, she joined web and app developer Abletech. Five months later she launched start-up business Banqer, an online banking service for the classroom that aims to promote financial literacy in schools.
Kendall says she chose to study for a Bachelor of Commerce in economics and accounting because she initially wasn’t brave enough to pursue the less traditional option of web development.
“Now I would say to everyone, at least consider what it could be like to be an app developer or a designer. If that’s the path you take, it’s going to put you in a position to shape the direction our world is going in.
“It may sound counter-intuitive, but the number one trait that sets you in good stead for developing is creativity. Anyone can learn code, but how to code is such a creative involved process. The code itself is pretty beautiful. You can write code that will do the same thing hundreds of different ways.
“And if you like problem solving it’s the place to be. Every day there is a new problem, a big one or lots of small ones, and you get the satisfaction of solving them.”
Kendall took part in Enspiral Dev Academy’s inaugural boot camp course, which transforms beginners into full-stack web developers in just 12 weeks.
“I’ve always been into technology, I’d tinkered around with hardware and made a few sites back in the day at school and I was the person people came to for tech advice. It was something I had inside me, but not many of my friends were interested in it so it wasn’t something I explored.
“I loved every second of the Dev Academy course. I’d done a whole degree and that’s the time when you’re supposed to become a self-learner and know what it means to be a life learner, but I hadn’t extracted that entire richness from my education up to the point. At Dev Academy I’d had a whole year in the workforce, I understood myself more and understood how the world worked a bit more.”
When she was given the role at Abletech, she knew it was her dream job. But two weeks after starting, Kendall took part in a Startup weekend and developed Banqer, which she launched with four business partners.
“Typically a Startup weekend is about the process of starting a business, but you throw the business away at the end. I was pretty passionate about this idea though and I wanted it to have a life, and we are really lucky because it’s gaining traction.
“I would love to get it into every classroom in New Zealand, but if we can get it into the classrooms that really need it, the lower decile schools where the learning will be the greatest, that where we want to start.”
She says women should not be put off by outdated views of the tech sector.
“The face of the IT industry is changing. Don’t be afraid you’re not going to fit in because you really will.
“There’s this stereotype of what an IT person looks like and I guess that’s someone who doesn’t really talk to people. We’re really aware of that stigma and we’re hypersensitive to it so we’re starting to go the other way. At Dev Academy we did yoga and meditation and I learned to see myself as part of a greater whole."
She says Abletech is proactively trying to address the gender imbalance issue.
“We also have really strong communities to encourage women to join the industry. There’s Girls Who Code and Rails Girls and lots of guys come along to support and teach and mentor the next generation of women.
“Women can bring so much to developing. In tech we do a lot of pairing, when you have two people working at one computer with one talking and one typing and you switch it up every 20 minutes. That process is enriched so much by having two completely different perspectives.”
Kendall admits it takes courage to choose a new path but says it’s never too late to pursue a career that will make you genuinely happy.
“I had to be really honest with myself and stop doing things for other people or some inner belief of what everyone else thought I should do, which may or may not have been true. I lived within very tight confines of what success looked like but I broadened my view and realised success is just happiness, so why not go after what makes me happy?”