As someone with not a lot of technical experience, starting work at a company like Hadrian can seem daunting. The truth is, that technical companies like Hadrian do need individuals with backgrounds outside of tech to work on initiatives involving marketing, operations and management. While a lack of familiarity with technology can feel like a barrier to working for these companies, taking the leap can lead to really valuable experience. In fact, you might not be as out of your depth as you would expect.
When Project Manager Peter Hix started working at Hadrian he didn’t have any technical training and came from a finance rather than a computer science background. What encouraged him to join Hadrian was the excitement around digital security. “I have always been interested in the world of hacking. Reading books about the topic and listening to some podcasts made me interested enough to keep digging.” While when Hix first started exploring the world of hacking he felt like it was removed from his everyday world of financial modelling, he soon realised that many of the skills were transferable, and there were surprising similarities. “Working in Excel is actually a lot like working with code. When you’re writing formulas for financial models in your Excel cells, in a lot of ways you are coding. The way that Excel processes instructions is different from other forms of coding, but it’s still code.” The similarities fuelled his excitement and he began taking coding classes online, adding languages like Python to his repertoire.
Graphic Designer, Alex Davey, also considers himself a tech enthusiast, though he admits to having little experience in AI and machine-learning, key aspects of the Hadrian project. However, Davey, smiling, describes how Hadrian made the whole process of learning about the more technical aspects of digital security very easy. “It was clear right from the interview stages that this was a small team where people were very good at communicating, and sharing information. Right in my first week, Sofia [Chief of Staff] sent me a selection of information on digital security.” Davey emphasises that the collaboration, and openness of the Hadrian team makes it incredibly easy to access information on technical concepts you may not be familiar with. “As soon as you enter the company you have access to information on all the different projects team members are working on. The handbook is full of information, and there are open resources such as the pitch decks I can turn to,” says Davey.
The technical experts of Hadrian are adept at explaining the complex Hadrian product in simple terms. Chief of Staff, Sofia Verkhoturova articulates how sometimes having to explain concepts with lower levels of technicality can actually be beneficial to the ‘experts’ as well. “It forces [them] to really distill the essence and learn to communicate what it is that they do. I think back-and-forth between a technical and non-technical person can result in one’s ability to explain what’s happening more clearly.”
Forcing experienced hackers and developers to think about how they communicate their work isn’t the only advantage non-technical individuals bring to the Hadrian community. There is a freedom in knowing less about tech that allows individuals with less technical expertise to make creative suggestions that others with more experience may have dismissed based on practicality. “Asking questions can get the conversation going,” says Hix. “It’s exciting when a brainstorming session emerges where something I say triggers something in these experts and they take it and flesh it out.” Such collaborations have led to the integration of a scanning product in the soon to be launched Hadrian e-book that Hix has been working on.
Davey explains that the relationship goes both ways, and that it’s not just non-technical individuals challenging technical experts to think in different ways. “When I was doing freelance design work I was doing the same types of projects for the same types of clients in the same format [...] Purely from a workflow perspective my projects at Hadrian are much more collaborative and fast-paced.” Davey describes how he’s been thinking in a new way about the message that his aesthetics deliver, and how to properly communicate that message to potential investors.
The overwhelming conclusion from ‘non-techie’ individuals who work at Hadrian is that although it might take time to find your footing, the benefits are worth it. Tech shouldn’t be treated as a walled-off community accessible only to those who have been hacking since 13. Like transitioning into any new industry it’s challenging and exciting. Verkhoturova laughs when she says that before you know it you’re recommending password keepers to your friends and blocking out time in your day to complete CodeAcademy lessons.