A day in the life of… Sarah P (Associate Platform Engineer)

AsosTechBlog
Mar 8 · 7 min read

This ‘Day in the life of’ series gives you an insight into what a typical day looks like for our women in Tech at ASOS (hint: there isn’t one) and how they started their careers. Hopefully, you take something inspirational away from it.

This one’s about Sarah, who’s an Associate Platform Engineer.

My alarm clock goes off…

From 8:15am to 8.40am; I have to set one every five minutes because I’m terrible at getting up! Once I’m out of bed, I must test my blood sugar as I have Type One Diabetes as well as some other chronic conditions and take my morning medication. I’ll then read the news, check social media and my emails and calendar so I know what I’ve got on for the day.

Now that we’re at home, I spend some time playing sudoku before work, although I used to spend this time preparing my outfit and makeup for the day. I also feed Sweeney, my Diabetic Alert Dog, and take him to the loo. Depending on the weather I let him out in the garden, or I walk him around the block, so he doesn’t get too muddy!

I’m responsible for…

I’m an Associate Platform Engineer and cover around 10 teams with a senior colleague. This means that we help the teams with provisioning resources, infrastructure such as VMs and agents, DevOps including different build and deploy services, creating build and deploy tools, security, and any other cross-team concerns. A large portion of my job is migrating teams from a legacy build and deploy system to Azure DevOps Pipelines. I particularly enjoy writing custom tasks in Typescript to ensure that the task can run on Windows, Linux, and Macs. It’s very nuanced and you often have to look at the problem from varying perspectives and think outside the box.

My job often leads me to looking at the source code of what is being built to diagnose the problem, and sometimes I even have to delve into the language the code is being written in to figure it out! I’ve become rather friendly with parts of Microsoft’s .Net Core open-source code. I primarily work with Azure based technologies and on a mixture of long-term plans and any issues that pop up day-to-day.

I got the job…

I was originally working at ASOS as an Associate Software Engineer after being referred by a friend following my Computer Science degree. Through software engineering I was exposed to Platform Engineering whilst helping maintain our build and deploy pipelines. I discovered I have a knack for it and decided to try it out full time.

My typical day looks like…

Every morning I check in with my colleague; we discuss any issues that have arisen and need addressing, as well as track progress against our long-term projects. I’ll either spend around two hours focused on our projects or work on the more urgent issues. During lunch, I walk Sweeney for around 20–30 minutes where I’ll also take a break from technology.

Sweeney is a Diabetic Alert Dog — this means that he can smell changes in my blood sugar levels and is able to alert me when there’s cause for concern. He does this through detecting changes in my sweat and saliva, jumping up at me to tell me something is wrong. If I’m too focused on my work and don’t realise he is trying to communicate with me, he will find someone else nearby, normally my partner. Before working from home, Sweeney would come to the office with me, as well as to any restaurants I went to, or the cinema etc. He is allowed anywhere I go, which means he has also flown with me on holiday! He’s a large Labrador so always gets a lot of attention, but his training means that he is entirely focused on me. You can read more about Sweeney here.

After lunch I will both focus on any unfinished work and check in with teams to see if they need my assistance with anything. I will have meetings dispersed throughout the day.

My lockdown evenings have me…

I’ll take Sweeney for a long walk, cook dinner and try and do some cleaning. I enjoy playing different video games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and World of Warcraft, which I play with my partner. I also enjoy playing chess with friends online and have found it’s a really good way to keep in touch at the moment. I also spend my evenings working on technical side projects that are written primarily in C#, learning about new technology and DIY!

My most memorable moment at ASOS…

During my first month at ASOS I was lucky enough to catch up with Ovie from the 2019 series of Love Island. We discussed service dogs and he wanted to help spread awareness and highlight the importance of service dogs, in particular diabetic alert dogs. Ovie then featured a photo of us on one of his Instagram stories, and it’s helped raise the profile of Sweeney’s own Instagram page; @sweeneytheservicedog.

The best part of my job is…

Due to the large scope of my job, I’m able to interact with many people at all stages of their career. I also work with lots of different technology, so I’m always learning and building upon my knowledge -this is important to me and it’s also really fun!

One new thing I have learnt in the last year…

I realised that before the lockdown, too much of my own image was tied to work and how I felt I was doing at work. I’ve really had the chance to hold a mirror to myself and examine which parts of my life, outside of work, were bringing me joy and allowing me to build myself up. This led me to trying out home decoration, and I’ve since learnt so much — it’s been hugely rewarding!

My one piece of advice for aspiring women in Tech…

As a woman with disabilities, and as someone who stands out, I’ve often found that there are many eyes on me. However, I have always believed that it shouldn’t matter that I am a woman, and that my passion for engineering will shine through. I find that it’s really easy to allow imposter syndrome to creep in and affect your self-worth and confidence. If you feel that a company treats you differently because you are a woman, especially in the interview stage, then that is not the company for you. Whilst the world is not a perfect place, never stop being proud of who you are, and remember that you should never be defined by your gender, race or disabilities, but your passions and abilities!

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge…

I’m choosing to challenge the gender stereotypes surrounding DIY and the notion that it is a ‘man’s’ job. During the lockdowns, I picked up DIY as a hobby. Last year, I completely renovated our living room — gutting the room, removing wallpaper, crumbling plaster, old skirting boards and ripping up the carpet. After re-plastering, painting and sanding the walls, I installed new vinyl flooring and beading, curtain rails and mounted a 3m long cabinet onto our wall. My partner helped me with some of it, but I found that I really enjoyed doing it myself. I’m now looking into learning how to do woodworking!

This has really become a passion of mine, and I was shocked at the way I was treated when buying new drills and other building materials. I was spoken to as if I had no clue what I was doing and as if I was incapable of handling the materials. When people saw (mostly through photos) our new living room, many believed it was done by a professional labourer, not a 4’11” woman with pink hair and a love of makeup. Anyone is capable of learning what I did, and being a woman had no impact at all.

Sarah is an Associate Platform Engineer with experience in software engineering at ASOS.com. She enjoys playing video games, cooking, chess and DIY as well as working on side projects and learning new technology in her free time. She has a Diabetic Alert Dog who she spends all her time with, and they have a lot of fun walking around and exploring new places together.