What I've Learnt: Amul Batra, Chief Partnerships Officer at Northcoders
These days, Amul Batra works at Northcoders which trains Junior Software Developers. He then helps finds them roles at brilliant Northern companies.
But it hasn't always been like this - he's had a long and varied career, including working in the music industry. He moved to Northcoders in 2016, having previously been Managing Director at record label Fwinki Music.
Amul's route into tech doesn't look like many others' - and his decision to move away from the music industry led to him joining Northcoders. He now supports all the coding school's budding graduates and pushes them in the right direction in the world of tech.
We sat down with Amul to learn about his life and work.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
A strong cup of coffee and a hug from my kids; there’s no better way to start the day.
What's been your luckiest break?
I have always considered myself a lucky person and feel that my whole life, both from a personal and professional perspective, has been blessed with moments of incredible fortune. Being convinced by Chris Hill to join the first ever Northcoders bootcamp when I didn’t know what a line of code felt like quite a crazy call at the time.
However, I eventually invested in the business and have been part of the leadership team since the second cohort. That decision was, without doubt, an incredible moment of serendipity.
What's your best failure?
At the very start of my career in the music business I was asked to look after the PR for a band that I really didn’t like. I found myself speaking to journalists and radio presenters about the band and agreeing with them that they weren’t actually very good!
Suffice to say that I didn’t manage to get them very much in the way of column inches or radio play. What I did learn, however, was that I needed to only work on projects that I felt passionately about and that I was completely committed to. That approach makes work a joy and makes it so easy to bring other people on the journey that I am on.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
Investing both my time and money in Northcoders, hands down. I’m sure that the financial side of the investment will look after itself.
But more importantly, the satisfaction we get from the hundreds of our Northcoders graduates whose lives we have helped change is worth every penny and every second that I have committed to the business.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
The lines between work and fun were very blurred whilst I was working in the music industry. Having children and switching careers to tech has led to much more of a balance and I wouldn’t have it any other way now. My weekends are purely devoted to my family and we have just bought a campervan so we can get away on family adventures at the drop of a hat!
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I read ‘Reboot’ by Jason Stockwood recently. Although it's meant to provide a blueprint for big businesses to reinvent themselves, it is also equally relevant to smaller companies which want to become more ethically futureproofed.
The main message is that you should put customers and employees first and shareholders and market share second, because ultimately, if you run a company correctly, you'll stand a greater chance of being more successful for all parties.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
To have more of a laugh and not to take everything so seriously! I definitely do that more now than I did then.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Whilst I was running Faith & Hope Records in Manchester in the late 90s and early 00s, I had the good fortune of being introduced to Doug D’arcy, one of the original founders of the legendary Chrysalis Records.
He ended up mentoring me in my early 20s through the trials and tribulations of running an independent record label. I learnt a number of important practices around running businesses and building relationships that I still use to this day. He also taught me how to quickly ask the right questions to get to the heart of solving problems whilst at the same time developing a keen foresight of spotting issues that might be coming round the next bend.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
That I lived on a Japanese sub-tropical island for three years.
What does success look like to you?
Success is something that will always evolve with time, but so long as Northcoders keeps changing people's lives and giving more and more of our students the skills they need to get employed in tech, then we will be succeeding every day. Also, to run a profitable business that returns satisfaction to its employees as well as its shareholders is also something we will never stop striving for.
Beyond that, I would love to live in a world where diversity and inclusion in the tech industry no longer needs discussion because it has been solved.
In reality, that would mean a 50/50 gender balance employed in tech roles at all levels, as well as tech teams that are made up of a mix of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual persuasions, abilities and neurodiversities. Ultimately, I'll consider myself incredibly successful if we manage to bring up two happy boys who have every opportunity to go on whatever path they choose, and hopefully bring more happiness to the world.