Tanda Kabanda, software engineer in fashion smiles at the camera

Tanda Kabanda

Customising my blogs and seeing what I could create made me want to work on websites every day. Now I am software engineer for ASOS, building technology that fundamentally changes how people experience fashion.

Female software engineer codes on laptop
Mobile phone showing fashion website
Software engineer typing code on laptop
Female software engineer presents on whiteboard to her team

With my friends, I was the photographer for fashion shows and projects. Back before Instagram and Tik Tok existed there was Piczo and Myspace which let you use HTML and CSS to code and customize blogs. I loved figuring out what would happen by changing code behind the scenes and being creative with how my webpages looked and worked. That was when I realised, I wanted to make websites for my career.

At secondary school I studied media and IT, missing out on coding at school because they didn’t teach it. When it came to my UCAS choices, I knew I wanted to study computer science. My teacher told me IT and computer science were different, but I was determined and was successful. The reality of engineering is that it is male dominated, but it shouldn’t deter anyone, engineering is for everyone, coding isn’t just for boys. I wish I had seen or heard more examples of women in engineering like in movies such as Hidden Figures.

I went to Queen Mary University of London and got my degree in computer science and multimedia. Then, I went on to Kings College London and got a master’s in computing and internet systems.

At university, I got advised to look for tech work at a bank– the wider possibilities weren’t talked about. The world changes a lot of the time - engineers are the ones behind the development of these changes. Many services we use today have an element of engineering which has an impact on the way people live their lives. I struggled to find my path into engineering but from just a couple of google searches, I found an internship abroad, letting me live and work at a tech company in China for two months. When I came back, I went from a customer of ASOS to becoming one of their software engineers.

Front-end engineers design the look and feel of the website that the customers use. Back-end engineers gather all the behind the scenes information to make that possible – what clothes are available, in what sizes, what brands, whether they’re in the sale. Back-end engineers also make sure that the webpages don’t crash on big days like Black Friday when the site is so busy. I’m a back-end engineer so I get to explore many areas of the business. ASOS have over 85,000 products on the website at any one time with 5,000 added every week and millions of customers accessing the site on their mobiles - I love working on something so big!

My work means I get to make sure the data behind the website can been accessed every time a customer clicks on the website so that they don’t get frustrated when shopping online. Software engineering is often invisible – you notice when the website doesn’t work but can’t tell when we’ve done everything perfectly! Engineering is everywhere and there are so many ways to get started. I learn so much from the people around me and there are so many opportunities to grow.

Having your code work for the first time after struggling to get it to work is really satisfying. Tech is always changing so there is always more to learn and that’s great. It means that you feel part of what’s next – being in fashion means our future might be looking into how best to present clothes so customers have an ‘instore feel’ at home or on the go and continue to innovate ways for people to find their perfect fit! The next piece of tech could change everything again.

Where to next?

Find out more about how you can turn what you love into engineering, and what a future in engineering could look like, by exploring the links below. And if you have a question or comment, get in touch, we’d be happy to help!