SPARK Skills Festival Line-up

As well as 30+ innovative and awesome tech and digital companies exhibiting at the SPARK Skills Festival, there will also be a whole load of inspiring speakers from across the South West region.

When? 1 December 2016, 11:00 – 16:00
Where? Watershed, Bristol Harbourside

Students, graduates, experienced developers or those interested in the South West digital tech cluster, sign up for a free ticket to the SPARK Skills Festival.

12:10pm Introduction and Welcome Nic Hemley, Bristech & Scott Logic
12:15 – 12:30pm Why Software Engineering is a great choice Joseph Woodward, JustEAT
12:30 – 1pm One young bloke and an old buzzard: how to land a role with the coolest startup in town Vince Lerigo-Smith and Tim Douglas, Actual Experience
1:00 – 1:15pm The role of a Project Manager Lily Smith, Memberoo
1:15 – 2pm AI & Chatbots: Conversations as a platform (Plus, win an Amazon Dot!) Ben Paul, JustEAT
2:00 – 2:30pm The Future is Open Source  Matt Bates, Jetstack
2:30 – 2:45pm Want to get into Robotics?  Sammy Payne, Open Bionics
3:00 – 3:15pm How I became a Games Developer Lukas Roper, Opposable Games
3:15 – 3:45pm System Outage! Tales from the shared end of computer system troubleshooting  Clive King, Oracle
3:45 – 4:30pm Panel: Startup to Corporate Hosted by: Rosie Bennett, University of Bath Innovation Centre & SETsquared


Introduction and Welcome

Nic Hemley: Scott Logic & Bristech

Nicholas-Hemley-bristechIntroducing the day of talks will be Nic Hemley (pictured left), Head of Development at IT Consultancy Scott Logic and Co-Founder of Bristech conference.

He’ll introduce TechSPARK, Bristech and the tech meetups that are joining up the South West tech cluster.

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Why Software Engineering is a great choice

Joseph Woodward, JustEAT


Joseph Woodward is a software engineer at JustEAT, open-source enthusiast, blogger and co-organiser of .NET South West.

He’ll talk us through why he chose software engineering as a career, what he’s learned after a decade of writing code, and why he thinks it’s an awesome career choice for the future.

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One young bloke and an old buzzard: how to land a role with the coolest startup in town

Vince Lerigo-Smith and Tim Douglas, Actual Experience

tim-douglas-actual-experienceTim (pictured left) turns coffee and javascript into exciting, fast web apps with pretty graphs and shiny visualisations for a tech startup.

vince-lerigo-smith-actual-experienceVince (pictured right) has worked on everything from missile guidance and flight recorders to network management and social housing systems. He now mentors a growing team of developers.

Their advice? Working in technology is about being super curious and grabbing opportunities. So, come along to find out Tim and Vince’s top ten tips on how to get ahead in your early career and land a role in a tech startup.

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The role of a Project Manager

Lily Smith, Memberoo

lily-smithLily Smith is VP Product at tech startup Memberoo. She will be talking about her journey from TV runner into tech, via a few unusual detours. She’ll also be talking about what makes a good Product Manager and providing some great resources to get started.

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The Future is Open Source

Matt Bates, Jetstack

matthew-bates-jetstackWith almost 40k commits and now close to 1000 contributors from across industry and the community, Kubernetes is truly growing up.

Once a secret infrastructure technology only available within the walls of Google data centres, as open source it is now being widely adopted to deploy and manage containers in the cloud – everything from tech-savvy startups to the largest of enterprises.

In this talk, Matt will introduce the core concepts needed to deploy scalable and resilient containerised services to Kubernetes in the cloud.

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Want to get into Robotics?

Samantha Payne, Open Bionics

samantha-payne-open-bionics-spark-skillsLooking for your dream job in robotics? Sammy is going to talk to you about how she co-founded Open Bionics, a multi-award-winning robotics startup that has designed the world’s first custom 3D printed bionic hand for amputees.

She’ll talk you through her incredible journey, which has seen her taking part in TechStars, the Disney Accelerator, UC Berkeley’s Business Accelerator and becoming a WIRED fellow. Hear what inspired her to take a leap into robotics and her advice on how to get a foot in on this booming industry.

Oh and, did we mention, Open Bionics are hiring right now! Chat to Sammy after the talk if you’re interested in finding out more.

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AI & Chatbots: Conversations as a platform

Ben Paul, JustEAT

benjamin-paul-justeatVoice and conversation are becoming more and more prominent within our homes and lives as we start to see digital assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google Now, as well as messaging platforms like Skype, Slack and SMS.

Your apps and platforms now need to know how to react and respond in a conversational manner!

Learn how to use the Microsoft Bot Framework, Machine Learning, LUIS and the Bot Connector to connect your apps and services to conversational platforms and meet Jammy 5 – the AI chat bot who can order your takeaway, start a party for you and your friends and use cognitive services to recognise photos of food and find nearby restaurants that serve it… all while staying cheeky!

Ben also has a couple of Amazon Dots that he will be giving as prize during his talk – exciting stuff!

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How I became a Games Developer

Lukas Roper, Opposable Games

lukas-roper-opposable-groupLukas is the lead developer at Opposable Group, having worked on a wide variety of games and experiences for clients including Channel 4, Cartoon Network and the Watershed.  Lukas will be talking about his experiences of entering the industry and will explain how to ensure you are able to stand out from the crowd.

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System Outage! 300,000 people unable to work – you have to work out why and fix it. Tales from the shared end of computer system troubleshooting.

Clive King, Oracle


We all experience, or read in The Register, the high profile I.T. systems outages that stop people working, taking money out of the bank or when their favourite social media outlet goes A.W.O.L.. The I.T. industry calls it a ‘CNN moment’.

But, what is it like to make a career out of sorting these types of problems out, be they security or system failure?

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Panel: Startup to Corporate

Hosted by: Rosie Bennett, University of Bath Innovation Centre & SETsquared

rosie-bennett (1)There are so many roles within tech & digital that it’s hard to know which to choose.

Furthermore, each of the companies is so different. So, how do you know which company will be right for you? What size of company should you look for? What is it like to work for a startup with only a couple of people compared to a corporate with lots of large tech teams working in parallel?

Our panel, hosted by Rosie Bennett, an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Bath Innovation Centre and SETsquared mentor, brings together tech team leaders from a range of companies across the size spectrum for a lively discussion!

The panel:

becky Becky Sage, Managing Director at Interactive Scientific Pre-commercial startup
yellowdog-gareth-williams Gareth Williams, Founder of Yellowdog Commercial startup
academy-mike Mike Oram, Lead Trainer and Software Developer at Mayden Established business
graham-weekes Graham Weekes, Head of Development at OVO Energy Scale-up

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Students, graduates and experienced developers, sign up for a free ticket to the SPARK Skills Festival.