Innovation meets fashion: Getting to know the developers at Net-a-Porter

Online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter is looking for talented software developers who can help it deliver an unrivalled digital shopping experience to its customers.

The company, which is headquartered at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, West London, invited Techworld to find out why several of its existing developers joined the company, what they’re working on and what it’s like to work for one of the fastest-growing retailers in the UK.

Despite being a female-founded fashion company, the three Net-a-Porter developers that Techworld was introduced to were all young men. However, it’s understood that at least 20 percent of the 200-strong IT team are female.

The developers - Kerr Miller, Matthew Green and Virenda Doshi - are at various stages in their career with Net-a-Porter and were therefore able to paint a broad picture of what it’s like to work for the company at different levels.

The Net-a-Porter Group includes: women’s fashion online retailers Net-a-Porter.com and theoutnet.com, and men’s online fashion retailer MrPorter.com.

KERR MILLER, 26, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT GRADUATE

Education: BSc Computer Science, Robert Gordon University. MSc Artificial Intelligence, St. Andrews University

Bio: Kerr is on Net-a-Porter’s graduate programme and has been with the company since September 2013.

How did you get into tech?

It all started with me when I was quite young playing games on my dad’s computer. I'd try to tinker with them to see if I could hack them and improve my chances of winning.

It wasn’t until I began studying computer science at university that I started working with apps and mobile apps and really found that that's when I was properly drawn to the industry.

I think what really got me into it by the end is the fact that I don’t know any other industry where I could launch a multi-million pound idea from my basement with a laptop. I could write an app today and be super-successful tomorrow.

Why did you join Net-a-Porter and what do you like about working here?

I just wanted to work for an innovative hi-tech company.

I think a lot of people here at Net-A-Porter are quite entrepreneurial. So I’m quite lucky that my hobby is also my job, to my girlfriend’s despair.

We have regular parties in the office, roughly every few weeks or every month.

There’s a lot of very smart people who are very passionate about what they do. They're very friendly and they've made me feel very welcome. It’s relatively flexible too; I'm usually in at 9am and out of the door at 5pm-6pm. Sometimes I go to the gym at lunch.

Tell us about your role?

My role changes every three months while I'm on the graduate scheme. I started on QA, then moved on to do Java development, web development, and now I’m working in mobile operations.

At the moment my day-to-day job is to monitor our services, provision the environments for our teams to do their jobs.

But mobile apps is really where my passion lies and that extends to wearables. I’m looking forward to the Apple Watch coming out and having a play with that.

I’m also looking forward to joining a mobile app team and learning as much as I can from the people there. There’s a well-defined ladder here to climb. Once I’ve done that…it's taking over the world I guess.

Where did you apply to work after university?

I applied to loads of tech companies, mostly in commerce. I didn't apply to Google or Facebook but I did, for example, apply to Amazon. My background is in artificial intelligence and my masters thesis was in recommendation systems so that bodes well with ecommerce. Based on someone’s purchases, AI technology can be used to recommend new products for them. So if you buy this handbag maybe you’d like to buy these shoes as well because they compliment each other.

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