Gayle Veitch (nee Cordiner),
BSc Computer Science, 1998
Co-Founder of Playspotter
The Watt Club recently caught up with 1998 Computer Science graduate Gayle Veitch, to tell us about her career in IT, and her new venture, Playspotter.
I was torn between a career in primary teaching and studying computing which was a real interest of mine. In the end I decided to study computing, and Heriot-Watt appealed immediately. Everything seemed close together and it somehow felt friendlier than any of the older, more traditional universities I visited.
I loved my time at Heriot-Watt. I spent my first year in Linlithgow Halls (which are sadly no longer standing) and made so many friends there who I then shared flats with, and am still in touch with to this day. I think I always ran into breakfast in the refectory at the last possible minute, and no matter where I was I made it back in time for dinner – after all I had paid for it, I wasn’t going to miss it!
I remember lunches at the micro-bite (if the café even had a ‘computery’ name it was definitely the place for me!), and many many late nights chatting in halls, making friendships to last for a lifetime (or at least they have lasted this long!) I was on the staff-student council for the department and enjoyed playing a part in that. I was also involved in the Christian Union as Vice President and then President so a fair bit of my time was spent there.
I enjoyed the course, but not the 9.15 lectures – can’t believe now how hard it was to make them! I was one of the few girls on the course – I believe there may have been 8 of us initially but that it quickly dropped to 6 – I wonder if the Computer Science girl numbers have raised any now? Hours were spent in labs coding, and the natural geek in me loved those times! My ‘mentor’ was Hunter Davis and tutorials with him were a highlight – he certainly had my full respect and I still remember what he said to me at the graduation day!
Other lecturers I remember for one reason or another were David Marwick, Greg Michaelson, Andrew Ireland, Peter King & Hamish Taylor – some of whom I think are still at Heriot-Watt. My main interests were the programming/software engineering and Human Computer Interaction.
Social networks came to the fore in my time
I did a PGCE in Secondary Education at Moray House and then started my teaching career at Merchiston Castle School in Colinton, Edinburgh and then Dulwich College in London. I moved back to Merchiston Castle School as Director of IT, with responsibility for the teaching staff and the network administration.
During my time there we moved towards online communication with parents and I had a lot of involvement the development of a full school database for pupil tracking and reporting. Social networks came to the fore in my time and as a ‘young’ teacher I was ahead of many in realising the risks, and benefits these could offer education. This led to me giving various presentations to staff across education in Scotland about protecting, and educating our children on these. In 2006 I moved into the Marketing Department, and took a qualification in ‘e-marketing’ through the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
When I married in 2008 I moved back to Aberdeen and took a role at Robert Gordon’s College as Marketing Manager, responsible for development of a new website for the school, and the move to full electronic communication with parents. I also spent time with the alumni and fundraising department on the use of social networking sites.
The Development of Playspotter
I am now a Mum to two daughters, aged 3 and 1, and have taken the decision to become a stay at home mum and start up playspotter, along with my sister Gemma. Playspotter (www.playspotter.com) is a website which is all about helping parents find places to play with their children, from local play parks to major attractions, aquariums to zoos! It is the only place on the web where you can find a full listing of local play parks and allows reviews on all places.
At the moment there is no income – no advertising on the site, no paid listings, but once we feel we have a large enough audience we hope to monetise the site. I have loved getting back to coding, much as it is very different from what I learned at Heriot-Watt, and am enjoying working for myself, at times that suit me.
Be open to see your career take turns which you might never have anticipated
I feel fortunate to have been able to have variety in my career, and am excited to take this risk now, in starting out in something completely new. Be open to see your career take turns which you might never have anticipated, in order to play to your strengths, and to fit with your lifestyle.
Visit Playspotter at http://www.playspotter.com/