An Interview With Colin Van Dam, Senior Developer At Kykloud

Issue 18

On the back of recent high-profile contract wins, Kykloud- the North East based property asset management software business used on some of the most famous iconic landmarks in the world has been busy strengthening its software development team.

We spoke to Colin Van Dam, Senior Developer at Kykloud and the newest member of the expanding Kykloud team, to find out his thoughts on what it’s like to work in cutting edge technology in the North East.

What made you join Kykloud?

Whilst I wasn’t actively looking, I knew there were a handful of businesses in the region that I would be keen to join should the opportunity arise.

I was keen to join a growing SaaS business; often people talk about the benefits of a SaaS model for the customer and end user but the benefits it brings to a developer are enormous too.

Customers subscribe to a SaaS product as opposed to the more traditional route which was to purchase software which quickly becomes out of date. A SaaS product continually evolves which makes it really exciting for the developer. We are constantly adding features to the product to improve its usability and function and because it is an ongoing process we are not restricted by budgets and timescale. Instead we strive to make the best product to meet the needs of our clients as opposed to a product which fits a client’s budget.

How did you get in to software development?

We are fortunate in the North East to have a number of great universities offering various software degrees.

I studied Multi Media Computing at Northumbria University but at the time the UK software Industry was in a state of flux with lots of development work being sent over to India. I remember clearly one of my tutors asking the class for a show of hands from those who wanted to become a software developer before telling us that we were in for a disappointment as developer roles were becoming few and far between!

Whilst her words were harsh, they were factual and landing a graduate developer role in the north east in the early 2000s was very difficult. So I started out my working life in IT support and in fact had carved out a successful, pretty lucrative career when the opportunity arose in 2009 to get back in to software development. I took a step backwards to take a step forward sort of speak and have never looked back.

What’s changed over the years since you started off in the industry?

Thankfully most businesses have come full circle and have brought their development work back to the UK. And technologies have changed too; I started out writing most of my code in Java but now this has been replaced by .Net and other more cutting edge technologies.

Also with the growth of SaaS businesses such as Kykloud, the developer no longer simply implements other people’s instructions but now has the opportunity to shape a product and provide their input on the best development approach. At Kykloud we have the freedom to express ideas and implement these ideas in a way that is really refreshing.

The North East is gaining a bit of a reputation as a hotbed for software businesses, as an employee do you share this optimism?

For a long time we lagged behind other cities in the UK, but in recent years a number of cutting edge innovative tech businesses have set up in the region, many of whom, like Kykloud, have quickly grown into international success stories. Without doubt, this has improved the opportunities for talented developers who want to stay in the region and the good job opportunities, coupled with a relatively low cost of living has also helped to attract software professionals to move to the North East.

So yes, it’s fair to say I share the region’s optimism.

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