Hired Tech Candidate Spotlight - Paula Muldoon, Senior Software Engineer for Zopa in the UK

Transitioning from music to coding, Paula's a born composer - Here's her career journey to engineering

Hired Tech Candidate Spotlight - Paula Muldoon - Senior Software Engineer for Zopa in UK

We understand you started in a different field or pivoted from a different type of degree and education, tell us about it...

I had an international classical music career, having toured over 20 countries, recorded at Abbey Road, performed at the Royal Albert Hall. I spent way more than the vaunted 10,000 hours practising the violin to get really good technical skills.

Can you share a little bit about your educational background?

Of course - I am a proud Makers Academy bootcamp grad, where the emphasis on test-driven development and quality code have enabled me to thrive in the industry.

I do hold degrees in music performance - a Bachelor of Music (B.M.) with Highest Honours from the University of Michigan and a Master of Music (M.Mus) with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. I find I am meeting many of my musical friends again in the software world as they also become engineers. 

Which, if any, educational opportunities, have made the biggest impact on your tech career?

Makers, for sure! Without it, I wouldn’t be an engineer. And actually, it was one of my violin friends from the University of Michigan who first encouraged me into coding.

What led you to pursue a career in tech?

I turned 30 and wanted to earn more money and have a better quality of life. I knew a few developers and they seemed to be really happy and since I could retrain quickly, software seemed like a good option. And turns out I love it!

Please share a little about your tech career journey…

I love that I’ve worked in wildly different industries - my first job was in e-commerce, then a neuroscience company, then legal tech, now fintech. My first three jobs all required me to learn a new language, which was great, as I got comfortable being uncomfortable. Now I’m writing Kotlin for the second job in a row, which is great, as it’s a wonderful language.

What would you like to learn more about?

I’d be quite interested to learn more about quantum computing. Traditional software engineering is to a certain extent a solved problem - we know how to do it well and the challenges now are around building products that do good in the world and creating well-functioning teams. Quantum computing is an entirely new technical field, however, which is really exciting.

After transitioning from a career in music, do you still participate in it somehow, either as a hobby or volunteer?

Absolutely! I lead the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cambridge String Quartet, I have a few private students, and I also compose music now. I’m much happier musically than I ever have been.


Ever wonder about the correlation between music and computer programming? Bill Poucher, ICPC Exec Director, explains it this way...

"I believe that the correlation is very strong among what I call "composer-class" computer professionals. It's amazing how many computer scientists have a musical background.

The reason for this is that music happens in time with tempo and structure– it's a process. So, what do you think we're doing when we're programming? We're scoring a musical work of art that is going to be performed by our orchestra. We also score our orchestra musicians. These are constructed out of data structures and algorithms that determine their behavior and capabilities.

At the end of the day (I’m not committing to which day) we pull all of that together and deliver a performance for you or for some other entity hosted not by a symphony hall, but by computing equipment."


How has your skillset evolved over your career, Paula?

One of the biggest differences between a bootcamp and a job is the scale - of the codebase, users, colleagues. Bootcamp taught me to work really well in a small scale, so it’s been important to figure out how to operate effectively in a larger area: understanding system architecture, navigating a large codebase, understanding team dynamics.

If you chose to specialize in one area, what was it and why?

I really like backend development. I like the pure logic side of things, and I’m not a particularly visual person, so backend engineering suits me really well.

What are some of the things youre most excited about in your new role/career?

Learning new technologies! I hadn’t worked with Kafka before. And also mentoring younger engineers - we have some junior devs who we sponsored to do a Code First Girls bootcamp and it’ll be great to watch them grow. And at the risk of jinxing it, I think I’ll be able to spend a lot of my time writing code and not going to meetings!

What was your job search experience like before you joined Hired?

Pretty slow and ad hoc. Hired definitely got me excited about the process.

Whats your best advice for job seekers registered on the Hired platform?

You’ll get a lot of attention - respond selectively or you’ll get overwhelmed.

What would you tell someone who’s curious about Hired?

Register and see what happens!

Any general advice you’d like to give other tech professionals?

Diversity is important so do your homework and ask uncomfortable questions in the interview.

Ready to find your next role in tech?

See how Hired helps technology professionals like Paula find a great fit.

About Zopa

Founded in 2005, Zopa is a technology infrastructure company in the banking, corporate finance, and investing industry. They have between 200 - 500 employees and are headquartered in London. They were included in Hired's 2021 List of Top Employers Winning Tech Talent, ranking second overall in the UK medium-size employer category for their employer brand and actions making hiring more equitable, efficient, and transparent.

Tech Stack: Java 11, Kotlin, AWS, .NET Core 2, Kafka, React, React-Native, Kubernetes, Docker, Jenkins, RabbitMQ, Redis, PyData, Splunk, Monte Carlo, Postman, Swagger, AWS Aurora Postgres, Terraform

Benefits: include performance bonus, pension plan, health and vision insurance, maternity/paternity benefits, sabbatical, flexible working environment, personal/professional development, catered breakfasts (in-office), and more.

About Hired

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