Interview: Alex Owen, DevOps Rising Star of the Year finalist, Lloyds

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Alex Owen, DevOps Engineer at Lloyds
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Alex Owen, DevOps Engineer at Lloyds

“Having the ability to dove-tail my learning with real on the job experience has been invaluable”

The DevOps Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the best of every organisation, team, individual, product and tool.

After two years of hosting these awards virtually, we are delighted to say that winners this year will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Wednesday 23rd March in London.

It's long past time to celebrate in person, but while some have just been missing seeing their peers, other attendees - the well-deserved finalists on the shortlist - are waiting for the day with baited breath.

One of those finalists is Alex Owen, DevOps engineer at Lloyds and on the shortlist for DevOps Rising Star of the Year. We talked to him about his role at the company and what he's been working on over the past 12 months.

Alex is a degree apprentice studying for a BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions at Manchester Metropolitan University, whilst working on the DevOps team at Lloyds Banking Group.

Having completed two other apprenticeships at Lloyds, in data analytics and business administration, he is also an ambassador for apprenticeships and passionate about building a learning culture across the bank.

For Alex, engineering has always been an interest and after studying the subject for a year, he secured his engineering role in the Lloyds Centre of Excellence team, where he has loved every moment of the last 17 months.

Computing: What is your role at Lloyds?

Alex Owen: As a DevOps engineer in the Centre of Excellence, I get the opportunity to design and build solutions that transform the experience for our Engineering colleagues. This ranges from building server side applications that facilitate CI/CD stages to leading our Tooling Governance Committee, which authorises engineers access to the latest tooling and technology, ensuring we continue to innovate.

I also spend one day a week at university on my degree apprenticeship, where my growth and development has really taken off since I started in 2019. I learn the relevant skills (both business and technical) on the degree to excel in my role, which really motivates me. Having the ability to dove-tail my learning with real on the job experience has been invaluable.

CTG: What makes your company different to other technology companies?

AO: At Lloyds Banking Group we put the customer at the heart of everything we do, from the retail banking customer to the internal software engineer. As the UK's biggest retail bank, technology is pivotal for us to deliver the customer outcomes needed in a fast paced world. We have to balance the needs of our business, creating great customer experiences against the need to provide world class service stability in a landscape of over 20 million customers, 18 million of which are banking digitally. We have proven that we can innovate and pivot just like the fintechs whilst maintaining the required levels of service, which makes our ecosystem especially exciting.

CTG: What one personal achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

AO: My biggest achievement in the last 12 months has been gaining DevOps Leadership and Technical certifications with the DevOps Institute, as well as a Microsoft Azure Administrator certification. Consequently, this will allow me to proceed onto the Microsoft Azure DevOps Expert training this year.

As a DevOps engineer it's amazing to have these learning opportunities, together with the opportunity to put them into practice. I'm especially pleased at how I've remained driven and focused, juggling my day to day work, the degree apprenticeship scheme and extensive technical training.

CTG: What are you/have you been working on this year?

AO: I've recently been working on delivering an exciting piece of work that will enable the bank to become more data driven in the way it changes and delivers technology.

Specifically, I've been leading on a service which will collect the data from various data sources along the software delivery lifecycle and turn this into valuable insight, which will inform decisions and risks assessments to improve the pace at which we deliver customer value.

CTG: Why are events like the DevOps Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

Alex: I think events like these are incredibly important in that they recognise individuals and organisations, to provide a platform to share our successes and experiences and help each other.

Personally for my category, it's amazing to be able to highlight how much you can achieve in a short space of time in DevOps when you adopt a growth mindset and learning culture, which is something apprenticeship schemes in particular really drives home.

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