AO employee swaps contact centre for tech career

Business AO employee swaps contact centre for tech career

From contact centre agent to web developer, Carmen Charnley, from Blackburn, has had quite the journey in her first six years at online electricals retailer AO.

After working for her local council for almost a decade, Carmen, 37, was ready to embark on a new challenge with the Bolton-based business. Never in a million years did she imagine she’d be writing code for the retailer’s website.

Six years ago, Carmen started in the contact centre fielding queries from customers, before moving into the quality team. When the opportunity arose to participate in a workshop on coding, she jumped at the chance to try something completely new and soon signed up to an intensive bootcamp with Code Nation.

Having never seen herself as ‘tech savvy’, Carmen was surprised at how much she enjoyed the sessions. She said: “I didn’t even have internet when I was at university, so Tech wasn’t an option I’d even considered. I always thought you needed years of experience with computers to work in Tech.”

The 12-week course from Code Nation covered both front and back-end development, with participants visiting the AO office once a month to sit with its tech team. She said: “I really got stuck in from day one and learnt so much in those handful of weeks. I amazed myself at how quickly I got my head around different coding language. On the final day, I had to present the website I’d produced to the business. Rather than just practicing in my spare time, I was working on a genuine project for a real business.”

After graduating from the bootcamp, Carmen secured a role as a Front End Developer and is now a highly valued member of the tech team at AO. She said: “I deal with the customer-facing website, and I want to help our customers choose products that suit them more easily, so my knowledge from the Contact Centre has definitely come in handy!”

Since taking on a full-time role in Tech, Carmen has found her passion for front-end development, and she only wishes that she could’ve started her new career sooner. Each day, she works on everything from the product listings to the AO homepage. She said: “There are times when you’ll be going around in circles for hours on something that doesn’t work. But when it does click into place, it’s the best feeling in the world – I’d love to have been able to learn this stuff when I was a kid.”

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