Meet Tasha, 15Gifts Scrum Leader, dog lover, and former Stars in Their Eyes Shakira hopeful!
Hi Tasha! You're part of 15Gifts, who use psychology to improve customers online experience. Could you tell us a bit about how that works?
15Gifts develop decision engine software which is used online and in stores, mainly for phone and media companies like O2, EE, Sky and Virgin Media. Our decision engines sit on a partner’s website and aim to take the conversation you’d have with a sales assistant in store and digitise it. Using machine learning, the engines ask users tailored questions and recommends them a personalised product at the end. Like a store assistant would do. The engines learn and improve over time and using psychology influenced UX, we help users make confident decisions in what they’re buying.
What's your role is in the process?My job title is ‘Scrum Project Manager’, which means I have two roles. One is the project management side, so when we build an engine for a new partner, I oversee the project from conception to delivery. I liaise with the partner, make sure it’s within the agreed timeline and that it’s built to the agreed scope. The other side of my job, is the Scrum side. Scrum is a framework we use to manage the workload within our development team. We plan and agree to a chunk of work with our developers, which is added to a ‘sprint’. My involvement is ensuring that the process runs smoothly, so people know what they’re working on and they’re not blocked by anyone else. I help to continually improve that process by facilitating retrospectives every two weeks, where we look back on how well we did in each sprint.
How did 15Gifts start?It’s really Tom’s starting story! He had the initial idea to create a gift recommendation engine. The idea was, if you were struggling to think of a gift for a partner of a friend, this engine would work out and recommend what the best gift would be for this person. Which is why we’re called 15Gifts, because the original engine would recommend 15 gifts to users. It’s continually evolved from there bringing us to where we are now.
There are quite a few of you now, who’s been there from the beginning?Tom, obviously, and Simon, our Chairman. Sergey, our Technical Director who moved here from Russia back in the early days of the company. Pete, our Senior Data Scientist, the man behind the recommender. And Steve, who’s our Lead Designer and has been making things look amazing from the beginning. We’re still growing, I think there’s 32 of us now, with more new starters coming along in the next few months!
You’ve had some clients with big names, like EE and Sky but what’s been your most enjoyable project?AT&T! They're one of the biggest [TELCO] companies in the US. They were our first US partner, and our first partner outside of Europe. It was our most exciting and complex project to date, but also our quickest delivery ever - which I was chuffed about! We all learnt a lot of valuable lessons from that project. Our point of contact was also amazing, we still chat and he occasionally sends me pictures of his dogs. Tom and I went to the project kick off with him in Atlanta and we had the best night out. We went to a Christian themed ping pong bar!
How are you finding PLATF9RM life?I really like it here, we launched the AT&T project after we’d just moved here and we celebrated with champagne and cake in one of the meeting rooms. There’s a really chilled vibe here, it’s nice to walk around and see new and friendly faces every day. I’ve spoken to and met people I wouldn’t have usually had the opportunity to. There’s also lots of room to stretch your legs, which I really enjoy. And I love all the dogs, they make me so happy!
Have you guys attended any PLATF9RM events?
A couple of the guys went to the retro gaming night, and they had a great time. I haven’t, but I’m planning on going to the next Cereal Filler, they look really interesting.
Karaoke night, what song do you choose?
When one of our partners came down for a review, we took him to Lucky Voice. I’m not one for singing but he made me sing Shakira because I applied to be Shakira on Stars In Their Eyes when I was a kid. They never came back to me though, I sent a tape and everything.
If 15Gifts was a family, who plays what role?
That’s a really hard question, we’re already like a family! Tom would definitely be the Father and Sue would be the mum, as she looks after us and keeps us afloat at the same time! Pete would be the crazy uncle who forces the rest of us to listen to jazz. Katie would be the sassy Auntie that teaches the kids how to wear makeup, and Martin and Josh would be the unruly teenagers.