OVO Energy - Scala Bootcamp

Comprehensive training programme for OVO Energy on Scala, Kafka, Akka and CircleCI welcomes new recruits for disruptive, rapidly-growing energy retailer

Background

OVO Energy has travelled a long way fast. From its 2009 launch into a marketplace dominated by a handful of giant suppliers, the Bristol business immediately made strides. Today it is Europe’s fastest-growing independent energy supplier, with an offer built around fair pricing, great service, clear information and tech-driven innovations that deliver and diversify its offer.

Restlessness about innovation is an essential part of OVO’s story. The company is not just buying and selling energy, but has invested in developing disruptive technologies like bi-directional electric vehicles, smart charging hardware, AI-driven analytics and the next wave of large-scale and micro-renewables.

Cycle team sponsored by OVO energy with bike riders wearing pink jerseys holding racing bicycles

The Challenge

With a rich and varied tech stack to maintain, plus rapid growth and diversification on the agenda, the tech-and-talent challenge for OVO has many parts to it. How can it drive business growth without compromising on all it delivers already or has in development? How can it draw in, inspire and foster new talent while inspiring its current team to deliver its services, systems and processes as they scale up?

The essence of the talent challenge – which is just one piece in the puzzle – is described by OVO head of talent Natasha McArthur like this:

  • Ensuring the best promotion of the opportunities for talented developers and technologists at OVO, with an emphasis on attracting problem-solvers and communicators as well as the technically adept
  • Continuing to develop the very best innovation culture across the business – and benefiting from the word spreading about that culture so the very best apply
  • Illustrating how OVO is innovating with technology, creating new opportunities for the brightest and best to push themselves
  • Developing the very best benefits package, that supports individuals in the round, so talented individuals commit and stay
  • Developing a STEM talent pipeline for recent graduates and junior developers – with the best training to inspire newcomers and get them productive fast
  • An agnostic approach to software languages, based around Scala plus related techs like Akka and Kafka multi-disciplinary problem solvers; curious

As an embracer of modern product development methods, any solution would need to conform to DevOps best practices, which is exactly what we set out to do.

The Solution

To address the training-and-culture challenge, OVO engaged with several training providers. McArthur chose Framework Training for being:

  • Quick to understand the requirement, including the cultural and innovation elements of OVO’s needs, and able to tailor a syllabus to meet its detailed requirements
  • Flexible in its approach and more than capable of working closely with OVO’s in-house experts. The upshot? Seamless delivery of a well-rounded training programme covering key technologies and company culture
  • Able to offer training sessions off-site – providing an undistracted focus for new starters

“It was clear from early on that Framework would provide the right solution, well-tailored to OVO’s technical needs,” says McArthur.

“All the detailed discussion with Framework about OVO’s technical and logistical requirements meant the training programme quickly took shape. To participants it’s now known as the OVO Bootcamp.”

The programme runs over three weeks, with deliberate pauses in the delivery to allow a good amount of time for all involved to cement learning. Sessions include hands-on training workshops on Scala fundamentals, object-oriented programming, functional programming, advanced Scala techniques, test-driven development, Kafka, Akka, and continuous integration and delivery - DevOps was a central tenet to the training programme. These core modules were interspersed with sessions delivered by OVO’s own tech and agile gurus to give the whole programme an authentic OVO flavour.

The training programme also delivers the groundwork for future specialisation, whether application development, support, data analysis projects or something else again.

By giving participants a grounding in OVO’s values, corporate structure and culture, the bootcamp is also supports staff in grasping the why of OVO and its business drivers.

OVO’s group CTO Ed Conolly, who is responsible for the ever-expanding systems architecture of OVO, signed off the training syllabus.

What participants said

Week One

“Even though I already had a fair amount of experience in Scala, the instructor went into precise detail on every topic and I learned new things. SBT is a topic I particularly improved.”

Week Two

“Exposure to continuous integration/continuous delivery was brilliant as I have had very little personal experience. The session was a great overview – enough to jump into projects. The Scala parts definitely filled large gaps I had in my knowledge, too.”

Week Three

“The training was delivered at a nice pace, with lots of exercises to reinforce learning. It was a great way to bond with other new starters, too. It made me feel valued as a new employee.”

"There was good breadth to the topics without giving too much information for an introductory course. The interactive activities were good. It was good to get suggestions specifically relating to what we do."

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