My Working Day: Making Fintech Ideas a Reality at Barclays Eagle Lab

Primary tabs

My Working Day: Making Fintech Ideas a Reality at Barclays Eagle Lab

by Hannah Cameron

tweet me:
READ this #MyWorkingDay #blog by Hannah Cameron @Barclays #fintech space @eagle_labs_shor in #London http://bit.ly/2pj9HMy #womenintech #UK
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 8:45am

CAMPAIGN: Entrepreneurs

CONTENT: Blog

My alarm goes off… at 8:30am! I live really near the office in London’s tech centre in Shoreditch, so I’m able to leap out of bed and be in the office just before 9am. On my way to work I walk through Whitecross Street Market where I can smell the food stalls setting up in the morning.

My job involves… working on 3D design at the Eagle Lab within Rise London, a workspace owned by Barclays that brings the world’s brightest fintech talent together to create the future of financial services. I am responsible for helping entrepreneurs and others develop their ideas through building prototypes. Although Rise is focused on fintech, Eagle Labs has a broader sweep and helps all kinds of people in the community develop their ideas using the advanced technology we have at our disposal, including three 3D printers, a laser cutter and various tools.

Through working with people who bring different and inspiring ideas, we seek to enable them to design and build and do everything we can to help them succeed. Sometimes they want an immediate result and quite often we have to take them through 10 versions to get to a workable prototype – so there are plenty of challenges with the role.

I got the job… after studying my BA and MA in Landscape Architecture at Sheffield University, before joining an architecture office in China for three and a half years. There I picked up a working knowledge of Mandarin and started learning about 3D printing as a hobby at a makerspace. When I arrived in London I connected with the Fab Lab makerspace, where I worked full time as a Lab Engineer, and when the team began advising Barclays on its development of the Eagle Labs concept, I moved over to this role.

My average day… starts with maintenance – checking all our machines are working correctly. I probably spend most of my time with a 3D printer we have nicknamed ‘Kim’ after Kim Kardashian because it needs a lot of attention!

The rest of the day is scheduled around hosting and attending to various individuals and groups. Anyone can come through the doors – from entrepreneurs and makers who have booked use of the machines, to visitors and tours as part of events. On the weekends we have children coming in to learn coding at ‘CoderDojo’, and ‘Mums and Tech’ where women will bring their babies and learn master coding and 3D printing. We’re in a glass-walled area at the heart of the building so we get a lot of interested onlookers stopping by throughout the day.

My best day at work was… a challenging day when a client came in to pick up a 3D print I had left running for 18 hours overnight. It looked perfect on the printer but when we picked it up, the inside wasn’t hollow as planned – there had been a problem with the file! The client had a meeting three hours later so we had to think fast, and I spent an hour with the hand drill removing an inch of plastic and polishing the surface. When the client saw the finished piece he was really grateful to us for fixing the problem and he dashed off to his meeting.

The most difficult part of my job is… overcoming the expectations of people who want a vision turned around overnight, when there is a complexity around communicating the idea. Also, quite often there is an assumption based on what’s seen in film or TV that an idea can be delivered through 3D printing immediately, but actually a lot of the time is spent talking through an idea to get it right. So, a lot of effort is required to work out the scope to build the right product, but it’s worth it in the end.

The thing I love most about my job is… how people are inspired by technology! Often people come in and want to use the machines but don’t know what for. After an induction and some intriguing questions they come back with ideas that I often haven’t done before. I enjoy the challenge of helping clients bring their creative ideas to life.

After work… I spend time going to comedy clubs and science communication events. London has so much to offer in the evenings. I often take part myself, doing demonstrations, talks and even comedy about 3D printing. There is quite a lot of comedy to it – I keep photos of when prints go wrong because they look like a pile of spaghetti! Otherwise, I’m at home trying to keep up with new technology – putting together 3D printers or other devices, much to the amusement of my housemates.