Portfolio: Luke – Hangman

After 12 fun filled years as an officer in the light infantry I was ready for a change. I had achieved what I set out to do, having travelled and conducted operations all over the world, including a 2-year stint in Pakistan which was the highlight of my military career. I also had the honour of commanding a company of over 200 men and women. However, after destroying my left knee and with the rest of my body creaking, I desired a more ‘settled’ future.

Kabul 2018

A second career is definitely on the cards for a 32 year old military leaver – many of the skills inculcated during your military life are highly desirable by business in general. Having decided to leave, I knew I needed to identify a growth industry to target, and after many days of research ‘tech’ stood out. As a teenager I messed around a lot designing web pages and other basic programs which I remember enjoying, as well as some more nefarious activities I won’t mention here. I have always had a desire to make something work properly, and understand how it works. This, it turns out, makes programming both incredibly engaging and rewarding.

I discovered TechVets, a group based on the social media platform Discord, specifically set up to help military leavers get into tech. I spotted a post which highlighted a training scheme for dt-squad, a startup run by a couple of very experienced business people in the industry. It was recommended by the TechVet community as an excellent and rare opportunity, though it would require a considerable time commitment. 

Initially, after investigating the dt-squad website, it seemed the timeline was all wrong for me. I was leaving the Army too far into the future, and they were looking for people to join a full time course now. I decided to call the number on the poster anyway, and I am very glad I did, as this was my first of many interactions with Peter Brookes-Smith. After an hour of conversation, discussing values, his aims for the company and the types of people and skills he was looking for, we set a more formal initial interview, after which I was very excited to become part of the team and on the training scheme. ‘Win-win’ is one of its key values, and this opportunity was (and still is) certainly that for me. 

3 months later of 2 x 2 hour training sessions a week with Peter and Sush, plus plenty of homework, and I can’t quite believe how much I have learnt. I realised that coding allows me to get ‘into the zone’ – I could spend 4 hours working a problem and not realise it. This hasn’t come without difficulties, and it has been a challenge for me to balance the required commitment to training with a full time job planning overseas operations, responsible for the lives of soldiers.

Peter and Sush have given up a considerable amount of their valuable time to teach me and others. Thanks to them, I now have a comprehensive coding toolbox that allows me to take on at least most basic programming challenges. This toolbox includes Python, Flask, Javascript, Bootstrap, CSS, HTML and Jinja, all of which are used in my first web app ‘Hangman’:

You can play Hangman and Speed Hangman on my personal website.

Having finished the production of ‘Hangman’, I am now moving onto database management using MySQL, which is a core requirement for my next project. I aim to design a simple web app that allows project managers to predict and track spend, with a military focus. This was something that certainly wasn’t available to me when managing military projects, and I aim to create a tool that will help Staff Officers across the British Army in their financial management of Projects or Operations.

I officially leave the army in September 2021, and before that point I hope to complete my MBA and I certainly have a lot more to learn about software development. I look forward to helping dt-squad best deliver its clients’ objectives, maintaining the ‘win-win’ attitude throughout.

Please feel free to get in touch, I am available to answer any questions and would love to help others on their own journey.