In this Meet the Team Q&A, Sandra Jablonska, our Digital Campaign Executive, sits down for an exclusive interview with Jenny Lantair, one of Condatis’ rising stars of our Dev team.
Hi Jenny! From my research, I can see that you are highly skilled in computing, attended five universities, worked as a researcher teacher. Why identity? What excited you about developing identity solutions?
As digital citizens, we currently give out so much of our data, even deeply personal and valuable data. Most people have no idea which companies currently hold their data and, more importantly, what they are doing with it! In recent years we have seen how much illicit behaviour some companies have engaged in to turn a profit by using our own beliefs and opinions as commodities to be used as sources of revenue.
With distributed digital identities (DDI), we are helping everyone regain control over their own data, appreciate this intangible commodity’s worth, and reintroduce some level of privacy. A great recent example has been Condatis’ work with The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University on student identities is an excellent example of the reintroduction of privacy and control for students.
When I was at university, we got discounts such as 10% off at Topshop when you showed your student ID at the checkout, which seemed harmless. Yet that student ID had my full name, student ID number, term-time address, area of study and expected matriculation date. To simply prove I was a current student, I gave away at least four pieces of valuable data to a stranger at a cashier and sometimes to the company electronically.
One small part of Condatis’ student passport solution, developed for RMIT, is that students can tap their device in a retailer’s store and choose to only share a specific attribute with the retailer, such as that they are a current student, that’s all! The information never leaves their sight, isn’t handled by strangers, and is reduced to the minimum – a simple “yes, I am a student”. The privacy and ease that brings to a student’s life is wonderful; all they need is their phone. Selfishly, I hope this comes to my university, the Open University, soon so I can use my Totum card that simply.
What is your story, coming from Southampton to the north of Scotland?
My parents met in Scotland, but they moved south to be near my mum’s mum when I was born. We stayed in England most of my life, but I visited up here a lot to see family. I’ve always loved how green Scotland is and how much better the quality of life is. The moment you step off the train to Scotland, you can taste the freshness in the air! My partner moved to Glasgow from Singapore, so his first home in the UK was Scotland for many years. We met whilst working in London, and after a few years of packed underground carriages, ridiculous rents, and tiny flats, we decided to move to Scotland, and we have not looked back.
And what were the universities you’ve attended?
Reading, Southampton, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt & Open University.
Do you have any tips for young developers fresh on the scene?
It is all about problem-solving. If you enjoy solving problems, you will enjoy being a developer. There are many, many frameworks and languages used professionally. If you know how to solve a problem, the exact syntax for a particular programming language is just a web search away.
Accept that when “computer says no”, you’ve done something wrong, not that the computer hates you!
Don’t be afraid to fail or say you don’t know. You can’t know everything, if you fail then all you have done is learned something new, and if you ask for help from others, you’re learning from your peers, which is always so much more educational and interesting than learning from other sources.
Now I have a round of ‘Rapid Fire’ questions for you, are you ready? GO!
- What is your favourite food?
Katsu curry & fresh brown bread.
- What have you read/watched/listened to/played lately?
-Freedom to think: The long struggle to liberate our minds
-Eurovision 2022 finalists
- If you were not a Developer, what would you do?
Money no object? I would have a textile studio on Aran and produce vegan tartan and clothing products from homegrown bamboo.
Money required? Teaching computer science, I loved my time working with students. Especially doing outreach work with younger primary school students, it is so much fun and very rewarding to see the enjoyment learning programming can create. One of my favourite memories is teaching recursion and conditionals using Sphero robots. The creative events students came out with were wonderful (and with their inbuilt sound effects, often hilarious).
- What is the best thing about working for Condatis?
The people 😊 Friendly, willing to help, transparent CEO and happy to talk about the direction in which the company is heading.
- What’s self-care (wellbeing) for you during lockdown and beyond?
Walks followed up by bubble baths are probably my favourite. A real ale and a good book in the bath after a walk in a cold rainstorm are perfect.
- Have you got pets? Tell us a bit about them 🙂
We have two cats who live with us, Harry and Hermione. Harry arrived from Cats Protection with his name thanks to the lightning bolt mark on his head. When Hermione followed him in the next year, she was called Rusty! She has been successfully renamed, or she at least pretends well enough in return for a biscuit. One day I plan for the whole character set of Harry Potter to move in, but my partner is not so keen on being the cat people. Our neighbour’s farm has 42 cats, so it still would not be the highest cat count in the village!
Harry enjoys covering for me at work whilst I get the tea on, and both enjoy a quiet evening reading and gaming together.
Thanks very much!