Updating Results

Department of Transport

4.0
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Heather Fleming

I think the coolest part of my job is seeing a feature I have created on the screen that is working exactly how it should and knowing that it is being used by other people in VicRoads.

What's your job about?

I am working in the Project Services team, where we are responsible for supporting and managing projects. Projects include improvements to VicRoads Information Technology (IT) systems to support changes in legislation, modernisation and upgrades to existing systems and a host of other projects. As part of the Project Services team, I have been working on developing a project management application (vProject), custom built for VicRoads projects that will simplify the management of projects and provide consistent reporting across the organisation.

Creating a project management application, that meets the requirements of project managers, who are working on a variety of projects is challenging, as at times there are conflicting needs. While I am working mainly as a developer, writing code for any changes that are needed, I also assist with gathering information from various project managers, on what new features they feel would improve the application.

We are a small team and this means that I get to work as a Business Analyst by gathering requirements, where I meet with project managers write down what they want the system to do then provide mock-up images to show how this will look and work in the application. I then assist in the development phase, writing code for some of the features and this is combined with code written by the Lead developer (there are only two of us), before we then start testing. If the application works as expected with no problems a new version is published and the next time vProject is opened it is upgraded with the new features.

What's your background?

My father was a bricklayer and at 16 I convinced dad to apprentice me as a bricklayer, three years later I was awarded apprentice of the year and received a grant. I told the award providers that I wanted to purchase a computer to help manage our business they were so impressed they covered the full cost. I bought textbooks to learn programming and created simple programs for our business, I also started running my own bricklaying crew around this time.  

I was about 21 when I seriously considered studying programming and enrolled in a course in Melbourne, unfortunately, the building industry went through a slump and I moved to NSW for work dragging my husband to be with me and teaching him bricklaying. I worked in NSW for a few years then moved back to Victoria. We married and had two lovely daughters and settled down in South Gippsland, with me continuing bricklaying and my husband venturing into landscaping. I found myself thinking about the programming course I never started and decided to undertake an IT degree via Open University.

I was about halfway through my degree when my husband was injured in a fire and could no longer work, he was ill a lot the first few years so I stopped studying for a while and changed jobs to work nights as a Protective Services Officer for Victoria Police. I picked up my degree again after a couple of years and I applied for a Graduate position at VicRoads not really expecting to be successful, I still had 6 Units to complete and had to study frantically to complete them in time. I have been working at VicRoads since January 2018.  

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes! I think anyone with an interest in this area and a willingness to learn new skills could do this job. Before starting work as a developer, I spent 4 days at Holmesglen, learning to code in the language that is being used and this provided a base for learning the new skills needed. Having a logical mind, and being capable, of solving problems, as well as being able to communicate ideas and concepts to others in a variety of forms are important abilities. 

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I think the coolest part of my job is seeing a feature I have created on the screen that is working exactly how it should and knowing that it is being used by other people in VicRoads. I even like looking for problems in the application when it is not working properly, sometimes this can be frustrating but when you finally find the problem and come up with a solution there is a feeling of accomplishment!

What are the limitations of your job?

The biggest limitation in this job is time pressures around designing and creating a new feature. As this product is in use all the time any improvements that are wanted are needed as soon as possible creating pressure to provide a solution as quickly as possible. This sometimes makes meeting production deadlines difficult particularly if there is an unexpected problem with the feature being designed.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Finish what you start. (As I wonder if I would have finished my IT degree if I hadn’t applied for a job I needed to complete the degree to get!)
  2. Be willing to take chances. (This has certainly worked well for me and I feel strongly that it is better to really try and fail than not to try at all, as even failure teaches you something)
  3. Make Plans but be willing to alter them to suit chance and circumstances. (Being Flexible is important but drifting along with no plan at all is not flexibility!)