Profile picture for Neil Chalk

Neil Chalk

I want to help People
to Live better lives with products that have a positive influence.
using these skills Analytics, Product Management, Roadmaps that I have
and these skills I wish to develop B2C Product Development
  • As 15below expanded further I moved into the gap in the product area. Starting off with product ownership in agile processes. I backed this up with a certificate in Technology Management , which included a brilliant course on Innovation. To round out with more business skills I also did the CORe course from Harvard Business School extension.This period of experience gave me the confidence to create Bashfully with a colleague as a side project to further develop our skills ... and help you!
  • As a natural development from being a developer in a small company I moved from being tech lead on projects to being its project manager. During this time I also gain PRINCE2 foundation and attended an Agile for Leaders course. I learned a lot about communication here during my time setting up an office in Melbourne. I also rekindled an interest in visual storytelling, doing various evening classes in photography and a motion picture production course.
  • After graduating I joined Atkins full time in their Management Consultancy business unit, working on some interesting infrastructure projects. Being the home of PRINCE2 this gave me a really good insight into document workflows on massive projects. Going to 15below was a change in scale, but allowed me to develop my craft ... although I did miss Unix! During this time I also had a side project creating a CMS in Perl.
  • I started off my journey into software development after initially wanting to be a theoretical physicist. I started with VB3 on Windows 3.1 and C++ in DOS. During University I branched out into Java, Prolog, and Matlab. My industrial placement at Atkins allowed me to develop these skills in a commercial environment, along with documentation and source control.

  Work experience

Analyst Developer at 15below
2009 - 2012
Requirements Gathering Visual Basic Mentoring SourceSafe ASP SQL

  • Secondment to the support team bringing technical and process experience as well as being an escalation point when the team leader is unavailable. I have helped automate some support tasks, improving team efficiency and reducing the support overhead. Another enjoyable aspect of my role has been in recruiting placement students and a permanent developer to the support team. Then mentoring them as they begin their careers.
  • I also provided technical input on existing business functionality to both the design review committee and production change control board. In these responsibilities I aim to maximize the technical debt that can be repaid in new enhancements and to minimize the risk to production in roll out and project go live. This was where I started loving the process of Product Management.

Both roles allow me to look beyond an immediate task at hand to the wider business and then how we can increase business value. Highlights include:

  • Co-ordinating with the Client Support Team Leader the update of the reservation system interface for a US client when their NewSkies system was upgraded to 3.2.
  • Helping to deliver and co-ordinate the roll out of an enhanced voice solution, which supported processing through Sabre Reaccommodation Manager, for another US client.

Technical Project Manager at 15below Key experience
2008 - 2009
Product Development Requirements Gathering PRINCE2


Secondment to Melbourne to assist in setting up 15below’s first overseas office to support their Asia Pacific clients.
Continued support to the UK office providing solutions to complex technical issues on project work there.
Project management and requirements gathering for local projects and Australian hours escalation point for the support team.

Student Trainee at Atkins
1998 - 2000
SourceSafe ASP Visual Basic SQL

Help Desk Agent/Service Support

  • As Help Desk Agent my duties included; first line support, configuring and installing new PCs, logging calls and preparing templates for company standard correspondence such as faxes, memos and minutes. Also developing a website for the department’s asset management. As part of the Service Support team I was involved in a project that identified any Y2K related problems and prepared the companies financial systems for a successful rollover from 1999 to 2000.

Developer

  • Responsibility for planning, implementing and improving various small projects involving an online collaborative system, which included giving a presentation to the client’s project managers.

Technical Support at Network Si Ltd
1995 - 1995
Excel VBA

On site at Mitsubishi Finance, Broadgate, London.

Duties included creating Microsoft Excel 5 spreadsheets with VBA code for data entry and asset management.

Lab Assistant (Technician Grade C) at University of Sussex
2000 - 2000
Unix

Duties included helping new students familiarise themselves with the Unix terminals and system demonstrations.

Consultant at Atkins Management Consultants Key experience
2001 - 2005
Python Consulting BPO SQL Perl Requirements Gathering SourceSafe PRINCE2 Unix Visual Basic

  • Development of extranets and online collaborative systems to create workflow systems in Business Process Optimisation
  • Research into group awareness in collaborative virtual environments as part of the Atkins Research and Innovation department, including EU funded research. For example IST programme IST-10846 TOWER: Theatre of Work Enabling Relationships.
  • Part of a team that developed central bespoke portals for the management of programmes of works for both Shell Oil and the Royal Bank of Scotland. I was specifically responsible for developing a transport ordering B2B solution between a local County Council and Atkins, a system to manage requests to the Atkins Pensions department, and a supplier rating system for Bass Hotels. Other clients included Office of the Rail Regulator, Railtrack, Public Record Office, and the Environment Agency.

Publications: Chalk, N (2005) “Mining project information using storytelling” in Proceedings of the 23rd IASTED International Conference on Databases and Applications, Innsbruck, Austria. February 14-16, 2005.

Analyst Developer at 15below
2005 - 2008
Solution design Product Development SQL Visual Basic SourceSafe PRINCE2 Requirements Gathering

  • Development of market leading notification solutions for the travel industry.
  • Porting a core component from VB6 to VB.NET including some key enhancements to dynamic content functionality.
  • Deliverability Consultancy - using a variety of content, software, white list and DNS methods to improve the rate of emails to reach the inbox.
  • Technical leadership on the design and implementation of solutions for new clients.
  • Technical leadership and project management during the implementation and rollout of functionality, e.g. to increase automation allowing the reduction of call centre staff and reduction of costs or to increase of revenue via targeted cross selling.

Trailwalker
2015 - present

As part of a team of four took on the Gurkhas in the Trailwalker. The Trailwalker is an unforgettable endurance challenge to get your team of four 100km across the South Downs in under 30 hours. Is it tough? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

We raised over £1,500 for charities in Nepal.

Product Manager at 15below Key experience
2013 - present
R Product Development Analytics User Journeys Roadmaps Mentoring Product Management Agile

  • Founder member of Product team at 15below and creating product processes
  • Managing the product development budget
  • Report on the Product related objectives in the 15below Business Plan.
  • Working to understand the business requirements for product specifications and converting these into use cases.
  • Acts as Product Owner in an agile development team when needed.
  • Providing the Marketing team with the background for case studies, product documentation and promotional material.
  • Supporting internal processes such as Change Advisory Board, Design Review Committee and Project Standards to ensure that the "right thing" gets developed "the right way".
  • Providing internal technical consultancy and business analysis of airline workflows and reservation system interactions.

Blog posts for 15below during this time:

Configuration Consultant at 15below
2012 - 2013
Line Management Product Development Requirements Gathering SQL Agile Product Ownership

Reporting to the Production Services Manager:

  • Plan and manage client system upgrades, including analysis and QA.
  • Establish, evolve and document formal upgrade and deployment processes.
  • Act as a technical consultant to 15below, supporting all areas of the business.
  • Build and maintain a catalogue of services and configuration information related to those services (Configuration Management Database).
  • Building knowledge of product and configuration to assist with establishing baselines and feeding into customer’s SLAs and KPIs
  • Act as part of Change Advisory Board.
  • Own Technical Debt Register.
  • Feed customer specific scenarios into QA processes / automated testing

  Education

ABFS, Diploma Course in Motion Picture Production at Brighton Film School
2009 - 2010
Film Editing Cinematography

A film course that covered screen writing, editing, shooting with 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film as well as HD digital.

IMDB profile

BA (Hons.), Artificial Intelligence at University of Sussex Key experience
1997 - 2001
Machine Learning AI Prolog SQL Genetic Algorithm Natural Language Processing Perl C Neural Networks Unix Java Matlab Visual Basic

An interdisciplinary course covering Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy and Psychology courses.

3rd year project: “SCARGIL: Data Mining using the Genetic Methods” produced a system that took a dataset and after a period of induction using evolutionary computing output classification rules. The program was given a dataset of DNA, which it then used to produce a model, to make protein splice site predictions. This project allowed me to develop my skills in cutting through domain knowledge, where I was not a domain expert, and solve the key problem presented.

Yorkshire Coast College
1995 - 1997
Visual Basic

  • City and Guilds Information Technology 7261/01 205 Visual Basic 1
  • A-levels in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry

Postgraduate courses in Computing and ICT at Open University
2001 - 2004
DB2 SQL Smalltalk OODA Java

Postgraduate courses in Computing and ICT, 2001 - 2004

Postgraduate Modules passed:

  • M877 Advanced database technology (2004)
  • M878 Object-oriented software development (2002)
  • M879 Distributed applications and ecommerce (2001)

Product Owner Survival Camp
2013 - 2013
Product Development Product Ownership Impact Mapping

An overview course on using impact mapping to drive changes in behaviour that have business benefit, run by Gojko Adzic and Dave Evans.

My main takeaways

CORe: Credential of Readiness at HBX / Harvard Business School
2016 - 2016
Analytics Business Economics Financial Accounting

HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) is a 120-150 hour certificate program on the fundamentals of business from Harvard Business School. CORe is comprised of three courses - Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting – developed by leading Harvard Business School faculty and delivered in an active learning environment based on the HBS signature case-based learning model.

Read more on my HBX blog post

Data Scientist with R on Datacamp
2017 - present
R RMarkdown

A track of courses that combines statistical and machine learning techniques with R programming to analyze and interpret complex data.I have taken this to help my project “R for Product Management” and enhance my skills as a data guided Product Manager.

View profile and progress

Blockchain at IBM developerWorks
2018 - present
Blockchain DLT Distributed Ledger Technology Hyperledger Ledger Open Source

Wanting to cut through the hype about blockchain and learn how it can be applied beyond cryptocurrencies I took a couple of hands-on IBM courses. IBM Blockchain Essentials

I have also applied this to my day job, with a guest post on the 15below Tech Take blog taking a look at how the Travel Industry could benefit from this technology.

MSc of Technology Management at Open University
2018 - 2019
Strategy Innovation

Building on my existing PGCert in Technology Management, starting with the module T849 - Strategic capabilities for technological innovation

Microsoft: DAT249x Ethics and Law in Analytics and AI on edX
2017 - 2017
Ethics AI Analytics Law

What I learned:

  • Foundational abilities in applying ethical and legal frameworks for the data profession
  • Practical approaches to data and analytics problems, including Big Data and Data Science and AI
  • Applied data methods for ethical and legal work in Analytics and AI

View certificate

Postgraduate Certificate in Technology Management at The Open University
2008 - 2014
Innovation Roadmaps Volere requirements

Three courses that gave me a solid foundation into the business side of managing software development processes.

  • M882 Managing the software enterprise (2008)
  • T848 Managing technological innovation (2013)
  • M883 Software requirements for business systems (2014)

Portfolio

Brighton Marathon 2010
2010 - present
Motivation Deliberate practice

Not only the first Brighton Marathon but also my first marathon. This was really the start of my love of running. Learned a lot about arbitrary goals, motivation, and managing performance. In 2017 I did my second and, building on experience since the first one, learned about linking arbitrary goals to deliberate training and practice. A skill that I have also applied to my work life - and inspired this blog post.

I raised over £250 for Cancer research.

CosMoS (a self-hosted CMS)
2003 - 2005
Subversion Perl HTML

A side project that allowed me to practice my skills using Perl and Subversion. CosMoS was a simple content management system that had a user permission model, image gallery, and HMTL content that could be moved around in the site hierarchy.

Side project: Untitled product management book
2017 - present
Product Development Product Management Writing

Book version of my blog with extra content, updates based on more recent experience, and professional editing. This is focused around my journey becoming a technical product manager with anecdotes and tips to help others - especially developers! - on the same journey.

Side project: Bashfully
2016 - present
Product Development Product Management HTML

Product Lead, Elixir, Heroku, Gitlab CI · Market research, product fit, UX design, HTML, copywriting

Project to help students and recent graduates create awesome online profiles. Bashfully will shake up the traditional online resume.

Connect with me on AngelList to collaborate on side projects.

As the name suggests, this project is for Product Managers dealing with data that want to use R as a tool to analyse that data and produce reports/visualisations. I have tried to make all the scripts work from first download.
R RMarkdown Open Source
Training, conferences and books aren't the only way of sharing information and improving your craft. This repository contains many useful links for Product Managers old and new.
Product Management
After finding lots of incomplete intros into doing interesting analysis of data from Twitter, I have forked and extended one of them to show how topic modelling can be done easily in R
R