The Head of Digital manages the Development team and ensures successful project delivery, software development, research, and quality assurance for our projects and clients. Part of the senior leadership team, the Head of Digital also assists with the strategic focus, day-to-day business operations and empowers teams and individuals on their journey to excellence.
We interviewed Jake Julich to get an inside view into a day in the life of a Head of Digital at the award-winning digital agency, Silverchip.
What are some common components of your typical workday?
Communication with the team regularly takes up a lot of my day. Helping to make decisions in code for the developers, assisting on project scopes, organising development resource, etc. It can get pretty busy and hectic, and a day with little planned can easily become a day of craziness!
What is your go-to lunch?
Depends on the day and the mood! But usually, grabbing a meal deal from the Co-Op is a simple quick solution when I can be in and out of meetings and just need something reliable.
Otherwise, a walk out of the office to the centre of town as a group is my ideal mix of social and lunch! It usually turns into a debate as to where we’re going but it usually falls between Subway, Greggs, or McDonalds.
What essential tools/ websites do you use daily to help you day-to-day?
Whenever I have to step back into a developer role either to help the team or just in my free time, I can’t stress how useful the JetBrains suite of tools are. Rider and Datagrip are my go-to tools for development, and I can’t overstate how much they’ve probably saved my time.
Notion has become invaluable to me and the team, being able to centralise all information in a clear and simple wiki-esque way without having to deal with the usual pitfalls of a wiki is just so smooth! Knowledge sharing is key in this industry in my opinion as it makes everyone around them better at what they do.
Otherwise, Google... It’s king when it comes to the tech industry, but knowing how to use it properly is crucial. Phrasing searches for google should be an actual skillset taught in schools these days, it really is needed!
What is the most exciting project you have worked on so far?
There’s a system that we have developed, and continuously iterate upon at the moment. Unfortunately, I cannot name the project itself but it’s something that we have been working on for several years. I’ve seen the project grow from a simple prototype on our in-house servers back when we only had 3 desks in the office; all the way through to where it is now, hosted on an AWS infrastructure that has multiple APIs hosted across the globe!
Being able to work with them from such an early stage as a mid-level developer, getting a deep understanding of their needs, and becoming Head of Digital all whilst this client is still with us has allowed me to actually see this project from every side of the table. I’m now in regular meetings with this client, and the feeling of pride I get whenever I talk about the project can sometimes get me a little carried away!
What made you want to become a developer?
At first, I didn’t know I wanted to be a developer. I knew I enjoyed working with computers, and after high school I had no idea on a career path properly. I saw a college course called ‘Computing’ and I honestly had no idea it was about programming at the time. I just knew it had computers in it, which looking back now was quite a dumb thing to do!
After the first month though I was hooked, I was learning in my free time and even ended up dropping some of my other A-Levels to put raw focus into computing. I was progressing faster than most in my class to the point where I was helping others in the class which to me was just as enjoyable! There’s something about teaching programming that’s pretty awesome!
What are your favourite parts of being the Head of Digital?
I really enjoy getting into the head of a client. Understanding not just the project they’re asking us to make but the whole reasoning behind it, where it fits within their infrastructure, what problem they are trying to solve.
It’s interesting from a personal point as I’m genuinely a very curious person, but it really ties into the ability for us to not just provide a project, but to provide a solution. We aren’t just a code house, and I never want us to be that - that’s crucial to me.
What attributes and skills do you think make a developer successful?
Listing critical thinking, analysis, and all these other fancy words is what normally would be said but that’s what everyone else says! So, let’s just pretend I’ve already said all of those.
The real question is if your heart is in it. The passion to learn, the desire to progress, and an open mindset to new ideas and processes. These three skills are what I’d say helped David beat a Goliath in the developer space.
What is one piece of career advice you would give to any experienced developers looking to step up into a team lead / management role?
Be critical of yourself, find your weaknesses, and be super aware of them. Reach out to people in similar roles as you within the company and ask advice, ask them if they experienced the same issues and what they might have done to resolve them. You’ll probably be surprised to find out they went through all the same things you’re about to experience too.
It’s going to put you out of your comfort zone, it’s going to involve a lot of things you haven’t needed to do before, and you’re going to have a team that towards you for advice. Don’t be afraid to give it, if you’re being offered a role in a leadership position it was done so for a reason. The people around you believe in you so just trust in yourself to give the right answers.
Mistakes will happen, it’s the ability to pick up the pieces and push forwards that will set you on the track to being a great leader.