Angelo is a Pega CSA with extensive experience in solution governance and enterprise app development in both the public and private sector. He was the recipient of the Best in Show Award at the inaugural Pega Community Hackathon in 2020.
Senior Technology Specialist
Virgin Money UK
Let’s start off by learning a bit more about your life prior to Pega. Where are you from originally and what is your educational background?
Growing up in Athens, Greece and spending my teenage years in Manchester, UK, from an early age, I enjoyed developing apps and games and one of my first ever projects was a Pacman game I developed in Visual Basic… didn’t get it quite right but that gave me the drive to start learning more.
I started my career in IT working as a Design Analyst for the UK Government, in HMRC, where I also completed a foundation degree apprenticeship in Computing. Coincidentally, my first ever project in my career was conducting a UX Assessment using ISO on a Pega-built application. At the time, I didn’t know much about Pega and it was just another technology to me. As a Design Analyst in HMRC, I moved around roles, gaining experience in different areas of IT such as Application Development, Business Analysis, Testing and Architecture and then I transferred to the Enterprise Architecture function in Newcastle, UK.
After that I was offered a position in a ferry company which operates all the ferries on the West Coast of Scotland. This role was abstracted from any application development activities and instead my focus was on aligning the architecture function to The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), being a stakeholder in the architecture board, where we reviewed and signed off all solutions across the organization and had a strategic and architecture focus.
More recently, I joined what was then CYBG (Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group) which is now Virgin Money UK (VMUK) as a Senior Technology Specialist in the Process Automation and Content department, which primarily focuses on Pega, RPA and Content. My role as a Senior Technology Specialist is very similar to a Technical Architect, where I have set up and organized the company’s Pega and Automation Centre of Excellence and am involved in everything from looking at the strategic direction to running Proof of Concept projects and being hands-on in Pega development for specific projects.
"Pega has shaped and impacted my career by giving that perspective of quick agile development without the need to debate and ponder about the specifics of server/client side technologies and networking."
How has Pega shaped or impacted your career?
Pega has given me a different perspective on what and how I prioritize when it comes to elements of application development, especially in a business environment. I sometimes still get involved in development using NodeJS/ReactJS and other programming languages, both server and client side. The key problem in developing something in a specific language is that you start by solving problems which take time and effort while not actually offering much value to your overall project, e.g. what framework and libraries should I use? What NPM components? etc.
I still think these technologies have great value and, if built correctly, you can create some awesome applications. However, Pega has shaped and impacted my career by giving that perspective of quick agile development without the need to debate and ponder about the specifics of server/client side technologies and networking, which has led me to become more business focused and made me think more about “what can we build” rather than “how can we build”.
What message or advice would you give to anyone who is considering a career as a Pega Developer?
First, get hands-on in a safe environment such as a Pega Trial or on a Pega Academy instanc so that you can make, fail, learn, succeed and repeat! The best learning experience is gained by being hands-on.
Second, don’t just think a career in IT is about writing horizontal lines of code! Rediscover application development, what you can do with technologies such as Pega, and what problems you can solve.
Finally, get involved as much as you can – a Pega Developer is not just someone who can create an application but also someone who can liaise with key stakeholders, identify reusable functionality, present the application to the end users, and learn continuously. Being a Pega Developer is not a destination, it’s a journey!
Best in show
An omni-channel web platform built on Pega 8.4 that sources new volunteering opportunities, connects your employees with opportunities, helps them grow their skill sets and rewards them.
Virgin Money UK
"When I needed to get more involved in the actual workings of the solution, I started acting more as the Systems Architect of the project ensuring key technical elements were addressed, not only so that they would work but also so that I could explain the reasoning behind my design decisions. "
How did you find out about the Pega Community Hackathon and why did you want to participate?
I found out about the Hackathon from the Senior Customer Success Manager I work with in my day-to-day role (shout out to Ellie Poyner!) during our CoE catch up meeting.
I always wanted to create an application that addresses corporate volunteering and thought I could create something cool and exciting using the latest version of Pega.
Tell us about the Hackathon project that you worked on - How did you or your team come up with the idea? How did you or your team go about the process of building this Hackathon submission?
V For Volunteer is a solution for any organization to reap the benefits of employee volunteering. The solution sources new volunteering opportunities internally and posts them onto the Volunteering Board as Vacancies where employees can decide to Volunteer. The solution is also omni-channel, meaning that end users can use either the WebApp, Mobile App or Chatbot seamlessly in addition to some other advanced functionality such as Pega Spaces, AI to increase volunteering uptake and gamification with the use of Kudos Points!
As I worked solo on this project, I wore many different hats throughout the development of the solution. I came up with the idea after having numerous conversations with peers around the subject of IT for social good. I’ve always wanted to get more involved in volunteering from a technical perspective.
I started building the solution by focusing on the key microjourney of the solution. I focused on the volunteering challenge and this is what gave me a good anchor point to start building outwards in terms of the structure of the applications, channels and personas.
Developing a solution by yourself means that you cannot ignore the crucial roles that would normally be expected in such a project. Therefore, I kept thinking of each element of the project depending on the role that was required of me. For instance, when I started building out the personas and microjourney, I was thinking of it as a Business Architect trying to draw out the key elements that were needed. When I needed to get more involved in the actual workings of the solution, I started acting more as the Systems Architect of the project ensuring key technical elements were addressed, not only so that they would work but also so that I could explain the reasoning behind my design decisions. All this was while having to think of the project as the Project Manager, Tester and end user!
Finally, some other challenging roles I had to take on were also around the submission of the project. From recording the video, to doing the narration, and even the ‘Victory Hand’ logo.
Are there any particular elements of this Hackathon submission that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of the overall project, as I feel I have come a long way since learning Pega and getting my Pega CSA certification over a year ago.
To highlight a couple of elements I’m especially proud of, firstly there is the mechanism I developed for the Kudos Points within the application, as it required me to look into Pega’s new functionality, which I hadn’t really used until the Hackathon, such as Savable Data pages and Prediction Studio.
Additionally, I would highlight a project-related element which is not directly to do with Pega but that I am quite proud of… which is the project logo and video! I have never done any sort of design work or narrating and video editing, but I am really pleased with the outcome.
"Working on Pega technology has created opportunities for me to deliver real-world results quickly resulting in internal exposure and experience."