From Retail Manager to Software Engineer: Meet Lee!

by Leanna Hodgins, on 30/01/19 15:42

Our latest recruit Lee Burgess took a leap of faith and changed careers after 18 years as a Retail Manager. We recently sat down with him to find out about his new career as a Software Engineer for ICEFLO.

Lee Burgess (1) New


Tell us about your career before CodeClan!

I had been in retail since I was 16, became a manager at 18 and held a variety of different roles in my 18 years with Tesco. My last 6 years were spent as a Compliance Manager where I was accountable for delivering the payroll budget and ensuring the store met its legal responsibilities.

When I was informed the role was being removed from stores and was facing redundancy, it was a real shock and made me stop and re-assess what I was actually doing with my life. I was accepted into university to do Computing Science when I left school, but I decided to take a year out first and I am still on it! So I decided to pick up where I left off and pursue a career in tech. I investigated degree courses, but I didn’t have 4 years to stop earning and attend university full time. So I did some research and found CodeClan, their 16 week Professional Software Development course looked like it would be perfect for me so I reached out passed the recruitment process and never looked back.


ICEFLO codeclan New


I decided to move to Edinburgh for the duration of the course and commute home at the weekend as I had heard the course was intense, and I didn’t want to add a daily commute onto that as well. The days generally started with an Agile stand-up to discuss how we thought the day before went etc, then code-along lessons in the mornings with paired labs in the afternoon to consolidate what you have learnt. You would then get homework every evening to complete to make sure you had fully understood. For each new language learnt there was a solo/paired/group project to complete and present back to the other cohorts. Thursday was social night so no homework and some well-deserved beers! It was full on, but I really enjoyed the hands-on approach to learning. CodeClan is designed to get you a job so everything they do is with that goal in mind. The curriculum is reviewed for each Cohort and is updated based on feedback from the business partners to reflect the ever-changing needs of the industry. You are also given valuable support with soft-skills i.e help with CVs, mock interviews, and our social media presence to promote ourselves to future employers. At the end of the course there was a speed networking event where you would get 15 mins with each business partner to get a feel for what they had to offer and an opportunity to sell yourself to them.

Ask any CodeClan alumni what the best thing about the whole experience was though, and they will all tell you - it is the people you meet and become friends with along the way. It is such an intense environment and you are in each other’s pockets for 4 months in class (and the pub), you really do become one big family.

Why did you choose to work at ICEFLO?

If I’m honest I had never heard of ICEFLO, by chance my wife got chatting to Andy (CEO) at her work and told him about me starting CodeClan. Andy got in touch and we went for a coffee and I was in touch throughout the course. I like living in the Borders and was pretty much resigned to the fact I would need to commute to Edinburgh for any role that I managed to secure upon completion of the course. When I found out about ICEFLO and met Andy, Leagh and the team, I knew that it would be a great place to work and was exactly what I was looking for in my first role. I find the culture of promoting learning and self-development at ICEFLO really refreshing, each member of the team gets a considerable training budget to spend each year and is actively encouraged to use it. After 3 months in the role I can safely say I made the right choice and I am looking forward to my personal development with ICEFLO.

What is life like as a Software Developer?

I’m really enjoying it. The learning curve is pretty steep and it never ends in this industry. I like learning new things, so I am loving the challenge and the feeling of achievement when I know I’m doing something that 9 months ago I had no idea I was capable of.

Advice for others

Redundancy can be scary, but it can also be an opportunity to give you time to retrain and do something you enjoy doing. If anyone else was in my position I would encourage them to reassess, look for something they want to do and just go for it - It’s better to fail trying, than wonder what if? for the rest of your life.


Thanks Lee!

If you are looking for a new career opportunity, why not check out our current job vacancies at ICEFLO.




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