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Meet the team – Peter Holdsworth

A pure mathematician at heart, Senior Software Engineer Peter Holdsworth loves to find new ways to make use of data sources and improve businesses. Peter has witnessed monumental developments in technology over his career and his advice to those up and coming is to treat every day as an opportunity to learn something new.

What brought you to Starcount?

After a 30-year career at IBM, it was time to start drawing a pension but too early to hang up my boots. I taught myself modern web development and, after a brief foray into online poker and e-commerce, joined Starcount as a back-end web developer. Starcount is a forward-looking company with a refreshingly modern attitude towards application development. It is on a mission to build products to help it’s customers make use of new sources of data (like social media) to improve their businesses. What better fit for my newly acquired skills?

Tell us more about what your role is at Starcount.

As a back-end web developer in the product team I sit between the data engineers who produce data and the front-end web developers who visualise it on the screens of our Observatory and Audiences products. I divide my time between writing SQL which runs in our databases and Javascript which runs on our web servers.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were younger?

A pure mathematician –  but that’s a hard furrow to plough. It’s undoubtedly more convivial and more rewarding to be a software engineer at Starcount.

What has been the best moment in your career to date?

I retired from IBM on a Friday afternoon and went to work the following Monday morning as a contractor on twice the pay, but more importantly with the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I’d rarely had the opportunity to write application code in IBM and this was my chance, and I took hold of it with both hands.

What are you passionate about?  

My first computer was an IBM 370 which occupied the basement of Torquay town hall and was programmed with punched cards. I now carry a computer thousands of times smaller and considerably more powerful in my trouser pocket.

Advances in programming have lagged behind the dramatic improvement in hardware, but I’m fascinated by the shifts in programming technology that have occurred over the last ten years

The rise of Javascript, open source software, cloud computing, automated testing and deployment and many other technologies have revolutionised application development just as SQL did at the start of my career 40 years ago.

Projects that would have been impossible in the twentieth century and would have taken a large team many years of effort just a decade ago can now be developed with a small team in a few months.

My passion is to take these ever-improving technologies and apply them as quickly and efficiently as possible to build robust products for Starcount.

Outside of work, I’m a keen but slow cycle tourer, and of course, I still read maths books on the tube.

What advice would you give to those looking to follow in your footsteps?

Treat every day as an opportunity to learn something new, whether exploring new fields, deepening your knowledge or developing new techniques. When you have learnt something new, pass it on to your colleagues and learn from each other. That is, after all, half the fun of being at work.

What do you think gives Starcount a competitive advantage in the current market?

Starcount not only has the data and skills to help its customers make the right strategic decisions, but it also has the ability to build products which make its insights reproducible over time and across its customer base. This enables it to respond to customer needs quickly and accurately (and ahead of the competition).

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