The precision that lives within complexity

How maths shaped Ian Roberts; the fascinating world of a BI Developer

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As is often the case with a mathematical mind, generalisms simply don’t cut the mustard which is why Ian completed a survey to decide if he was a dog or a cat person. The precise answer? He’s 63% a dog person. He currently owns neither cat or dog but the thinking is now done and locked in place.

Ian has a fascination with flow, whether that be the coded logic throughout Katchr’s software that he works on or the electrons coursing through our homes and devices – the very lifeblood of modern tech. He has a mind, so hungry for knowledge that he once sat down and learned the IET Wiring Regulations, pretty much just for kicks.

This interest in how complex things work was heavily driven by Ian’s family background, his grandmother was a semi-professional pianist and his mother, a programmer; both making magic with their “keyboards”. In fact, Ian has a piano in his home office. After achieving a Level 6 grading as a child, he returned to his (modestly referred to as “somewhat rusty”) piano roots during lockdown.

Another area Ian wants to return to is his original coding passion, The Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He still has the 48K and the Spectrum+ in his attic but they won’t be staying there for much longer. Ian’s mind immediately goes to the charming process of cassette, “load”, pause/play combination that was often a hit and miss experience depending on how slack the tape was. Like the punch-cards of the early computers, loading your games onto the Spectrum made you part of the machine. He is proud of the 100+ games he still has and intends to dig out his all-time favourite, the 1985 stealth-action game, Saboteur. 35 years in the loft adds an extra level of “fingers-crossed” hope than anyone ever experienced in the 80s because the tapes may well now be corrupted.

How things work on a coding level was just one facet of what Ian finds interesting about our world and taking stuff apart to see how it all worked was the obvious next step. A Level Maths and Further Maths led to a Computer Science degree where he was expected to build his own machine – an experience he’ll always cherish.

So, why does a mind like Ian’s choose to work in a software company like Katchr? “Coming from a large corporate environment, I was looking for a smaller business, but primarily the job description. A lot of job ads ask for an endless list of skills, technologies and experience, when in reality the job is likely to involve a very small subset of what is being asked. It’s often hard to envisage what the job actually is.

Katchr’s job description was the opposite; it was concise but gave a good picture of what the company is and what it does, what kind of person they were looking for and the kind of people I’d be working with, and actually a pretty good summary of the tasks the job involves.”

Ian Robers (pictured), BI Developer at Katchr.
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