Being Human - Sam Hannan

Who are you?
I'm Sam Hannan, and I'm a Senior Software Developer with a passion for creating a variety of cutting edge applications and tools.

How long have you been here?
I joined Human when it was still called Tariff Street in 2016, so about one and a half years.

How did you end up here?
It’s not something I thought I’d do when I was growing up. I left school when I was 16, and always wanted to be a mechanic. I did that for a year, but the oily reality of fixing cars didn't quite work out.

I’ve always had an interest in Software though - all the way back to the 'Macromedia Flash MX' days if you remember that. When I worked at an online insurance broker I wanted to get involved with software. I got picked up by their in-house dev team who taught me everything I know. I got to work with some very popular, price comparison companies back then and help build their price comparison engines, so that was an exciting few years and really got my career under way.

Since then it’s been a non-stop roller coaster. I moved Leeds for three years where I worked for several tech companies, then had a bit of a quarter life crisis and invested my life savings to go travelling round the world for 7 months. Following this experience, I returned to Manchester where I went on to join the team at Human.

In your opinion, what’s your best piece of work?
One of the best pieces of work I’ve worked on at Human is the React.js application I'm currently working on It’s the culmination of 18 months of work, and a lot of it is to do with the client too. They’re really aligned to the way we work and approach which is very nice.

Plus we’re using some cutting edge technologies. Lots of people here at Human know this about me, but I’m really into pushing the boundaries technology-wise, I never want to become stagnant as that can be dangerous in an industry as fast moving as ours.

What’s the best and worst part of your job?
The best part is the moment a project finally comes together. At other places I’ve worked, there was a tendency for projects to kind of 'fizzle' out of your hands never to be seen again. The projects I work on now however, tend to be projects which improve and evolve over a long period which gives a sense of great achievement. Especially when you see the positive impact it has on the clients business. That’s why I do it!

My least favourite part is time restraints! There’s always things to improve, change and refine on a project, but realistically you don’t always get the time.

What’s your advice to people looking to be a software developer?
Find out what you’re interested in. There’s so many options, its like an ocean. You can’t just “do software”; there’s too many specialisations. Find something you enjoy, and stick with it - become a specialist and learn everything there is to know about it. Give it a go, and don’t give up!

When not in work, what can you be found doing?
I love music and play a lot of guitar. I also perform magic (after a couple of beers!). I entertained at weddings and club nights when I was younger and used to be part of the Young Magicians Club when I was 13-16, which is like the Magic Circle for young people.

I like doing DIY too, anything working with my hands. I’ve recently started cycling as well. What you won’t find me doing is sitting on a computer when I get home. It's important to rest your brain and escape when you get home from an intensive day at work.

What would be your specialist subject in a quiz?
This sounds weird, but I would probably choose ‘the engineering and history of roller coasters in the UK’. When I was young I used to love playing Rollercoaster Tycoon and I’ve loved them ever since. They’re so fascinating, and the eccentric mix of engineering and entertainment really appeals to me.

What’s something people may not know about you?
I don’t think many people would’ve expected I wanted to be a mechanic. I still love working on my car. It’s the extreme opposite of programming - it’s all very analogue. That’s pretty unusual actually, most mechanics I’ve met don’t like computers very much!

What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
I wish I’d had the confidence I have now. When I was younger I was pretty shy, I lacked drive because I cared too much what people thought of me. I was definitely trying too hard - it had the polar opposite effect because of course you can tell when someone's trying too hard. So I guess my advice would be “don’t stress - just chill out! Life’s too precious for stress.”

Future for you/Human/the world?
I’m a firm believer that helping others is considerably more rewarding and valuable than doing things for your own benefit. Helping others to achieve their goals and ambitions is important to me, and in some regards, just as important as my own successes in life. If I can go to sleep each night knowing I've made a positive impact on someone's life; albeit how small - that's very uplifting.

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