Ross Beale graduated from the University of Reading's BSc Computer Science course in 2013, and is now the Technical Director for Airbyte, a mobile-focused digital product studio co-owned with a fellow Reading graduate, Steve Smith.
Ross was initially drawn to study Computer Science at Reading for the location. "I was attracted to Reading and the Thames Valley area as it has become synonymous with some of the world's most innovative technology companies (Microsoft, Oracle, etc). Being in the Thames Valley area breathes opportunity."
The course's focus on the fundamentals of Computer Science gave Ross the perfect grounding of knowledge to provide him with a broad array of potential career paths, and honed the theoretical and practical skills valued by employers.
"The course surprised me by being so practical – every year had memorable practicals or lab sessions that really drove home the theoretical learning, from first year programming labs, to visiting the VR cave in my final year."
One of the things that impressed Ross the most was the support he received during his final year project: "My supervisor and I were both really passionate about my project, and that showed in the results." Ross found the whole Computer Science department is also incredibly supportive of out-of-curriculum activities and ventures.
ENHANCING LEARNING WITH EXPERIENCE
During his time at Reading, Ross undertook a summer placement on campus with Conjure, a digital agency. This experience was a turning point for him. "Within weeks of my time there, I was working on production-level code – writing core features in mobile apps for their clients. I continued to work with Conjure throughout third year and ended up joining them as soon as I graduated."
THE INSPIRATION TO SOLVE PROBLEMS
"I've always been creative and love building things, especially things that solve problems."
Whilst at Reading Ross worked with a fellow student, Steve Smith, to build an unofficial mobile application for the University to help students with day-to-day needs, such as accessing timetables and course information. The success of the app helped to inspire Ross in his career plan.
"It became way more popular than we had ever imagined as mobile apps began to dominate the consumer market – I knew that creating products to solve problems was something I wanted to do."
Following his time with Conjure after graduation Ross led a product team at Ecrebo, before forming Airbyte with Steve – building innovative apps and websites that solve problems. As Technical Director at Airbyte, Ross works directly with some of the world's biggest brands: Kantar Worldpanel, Thales, Big Bus Tours, NHS, London Science Museum, Jaguar Land Rover and British Airways.
Ross is understandably proud of his achievements. "We were featured as one of "Fifty Game Changers in the Thames Valley"; being recognised for inspiring the community that initially drew me to Reading is really rewarding."
PLACEMENTS & INTERNSHIPS
Airbyte regularly offer student placements and internships to University of Reading students, where they have the opportunity to gain work experience in a real world environment. Alex Christou, a current University of Reading student, has joined Airbyte for a year placement as Product Manager; he oversees the products and take them from conception to completion.
"There are the huge benefits gained from working at a small, dynamic business."
Over the year Alex will be working on both internal and client based projects. As a product manager he will be working on a diverse range of tasks including marketing, business development and support. Alex is enthusiastic about his experience at Airbyte so far: "My base level of programming is being developed each day and I'm gaining technical exposure to the projects that Ross and Steve are working on."