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Alumni

Howard Norman

Career Path: System Architect, Dot Dot Loans
Location: Leeds, UK

After graduating in 1990 I went on to work for BAE Military Aircratft Ltd as part of the Software Engineering Design team on the Eurofighter (Typhoon) and then on the software for the Hawk aircraft. I left BAE in 1993 to become the Design & Product Lead on the Arianne 5 Rocket for Easams Gmbh in Paris and Munich. This was a fantastic role where I designed the solution for the space rocket. I then led a multi-national team of software engineers to develop, test and deliver the solution for the European Space Agency.

After three years I returned to the UK to work as a freelance contractor on a number of military embedded systems ranging from ships to helicopters. In 2004, I decided I wanted to move away from embedded software development and so I started my first role as a Solutions Architect on the NHS Spine for BT. This was another great role where I was in at the very early stage in another large and significant project. In 2010 I moved away from the NHS Spine and worked at the DWP to transform their benefits systems online, and eventually moved to one of their suppliers, IBM, to work on solutions for the Universal Credit programme. In 2013 I was given the opportunity to work in Abu Dhabi on a government security project to deliver an alert and monitoring solution as part of a small team  with Step 5. We achieved this ahead of schedule and within budget. In 2014 I moved back to the UK to provide solutions for Asda in Leeds. This role gave me exposure to new technologies across a variety of business domains in order to provide integrated solutions to support their business transformation projects. I have continued to do similar Solution Architecture roles since including projects at Leeds Building Society, George at Asda and Aviva.

What are you doing now?Howard Norman

Last year I was given the opportunity to take on a Systems Architect role for Dot Dot Loans, a relatively small company by comparison to my previous engagements but which has given me the chance to influence and make big changes working as part of the management team to transform the businesses of loans and electronic accounts to put in the right solutions to enable the businesses to merge and be ready for future growth.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I was impressed with the course being new and the enthusiasm of the lecturers. I was also impressed with the campus and Newcastle itself.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

A good mix of lectures, seminars and team projects. My year was a small cohort which helped us get a lot of access to the staff and facilities. We also had outside visits to companies in the area.

How connected was your course with industry?

Very connected, one of the part-time lecturers was a business partner in an engineering company. We had a number of visits to local companies. The course was a sandwich course where the 3rd year was a placement in Industry (I was at Severn Trent Water). My final year project was developing an Expert System for Furnace selection at Parsons (was a large Engineering company) and this involved me interviewing experts at their site and them marking my project.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

Yes I did (see above). This was very valuable experience as it involved gathering requirements from the engineering company and them reviewing my work and prototype. So I was involved in arranging quite a few meetings and eliciting requirements and presenting my prototype to the experts and this was very good experience which helped me push on faster with my career.

What was the best thing about your course?

I think what turned out to be the best thing about the course was the real relevance to the career I chose. The work we did on the course was really good ground work for commercial design and development of real time and engineering programmes I worked on.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Design skills before coding. Good coding principles that still hold true today. How to illicit requirements and also project planning skills and the business modules that gave us the insight into different types of businesses and supply and demand principles.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I really enjoyed the programming assignments and the real-time engineering modules. I also enjoyed Newcastle and its night life a few times!

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Go for it! (if the course is right). You can’t go wrong with the University, good courses, lecturers and a great campus that is well situated close to the town and the Quayside. Also Newcastle is a great city and its people are very friendly.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Loved the Place!

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