Introducing our next interviewee in our ongoing look at the people behind the B-Secur brand - Embedded Software Engineer, Nathan Steenson.
Nathan has been with us since 2018, joining through our graduate scheme and quickly becoming an integral asset in the engineering team.
In this interview, Nathan shares insight about being a B-Secur engineer and what the future of ECG biometrics could look like.
Tell us a little more about yourself, Nathan
"Hi, My name is Nathan Steenson – I’m 25, from Lisburn and I’ve been working for B-Secur for a bit over a year now.
"I’ve always been a keen football enthusiast - I played competitively until I was 20, and I support a team from Liverpool (hint: they don't wear blue). I stopped playing football because of a knee injury, and so more recently I’ve been trying other things like cycling and swimming, and I’ve had more time to get stuck into activities in the local church and community where I live."
You came to B-Secur as a graduate – how has your experience been and how does it differ from that of your graduate friends?
"I didn’t really know what to expect from a startup company, but it didn’t take long to see that there was a culture in B-Secur that was different from anything I’d experienced before.
"I think there’s an expectation amongst graduates that you go into a grad scheme in a big company, do your time in something specific, and then look at working your way up. I didn’t want to do that, and B-Secur offered an alternative to that pathway.
"The team was small, and I quickly felt at home and part of what was going on. I felt like I had autonomy over how I worked, and space to find my best ways to work. I was immediately involved in contributing to the development of our technology - the responsibility was a very welcome surprise!
"With this comes a sense of purpose in my work, and the gaps in my knowledge are being filled in as I am working – to be both contributing and learning in my job is important to me - in my opinion, both are vital to the development of a young engineer.
"Then of course, we aren’t bad at letting our hair down and having a laugh, either. Every so often there are nights where we stay behind for some food and drinks – and there’s always the lunchtime FIFA slot – that’s not something I imagine every workplace has!"
There is a sense of purpose in my work, and the gaps in my knowledge are being filled in as I am working
What do you get out of working as an embedded software engineer at B-Secur that you couldn’t get from any other kind of work?
"When I was growing up I was always fascinated with making things – I’d sit for hours making stuff out of Meccano and Lego. As I grew older I was really drawn to technology and how it was being used to solve problems or make things better."
"Embedded software gives me the platform to create – something can start as an idea, or a solution to a problem – and quite quickly this idea or solution can be brought into reality using technology."
"Bringing the ECG from something that’s seen flashing on bed-side monitors in hospitals or on tv to something that’s personal to us and something we can easily interact with, changing the way we define health and security, is something I really enjoy being a part of.
"My background was electrical engineering, so my programming skills have really improved in the past year. The mentoring I have received from my team has been invaluable, and there’s a good balance between further developing my skills whilst also providing good quality work."
One common perception of working in tech centres around long hours. Do you find it difficult to maintain a balance?
"To be honest, not at all. My manager has always been very intentional in letting me know that although there may be times where we may need to knuckle down and get something delivered, the normal expectation is not to be working endless hours.
"I think people generally work better when there’s an appropriate priority given to life outside the office, and this is definitely modelled by the team in B-Secur.
"People here are driven – we enjoy our work – but we know when it’s time to close the computers down and relax."
B-Secur is exploring some truly revolutionary uses for ECG biometrics, most notably in health and wellness. What’s the most exciting use case for you?
"For me I love the idea of smart-clothing – clothes that are able to monitor your body and give you real time feedback.
"I could see immediate applications in the sports industry, emergency services, gaming, health and wellness - It would actually be hard to think of an industry where an innovation like that wouldn’t really change the way people and performance were monitored."
B-Secur has achieved so much since starting off as a startup, what would you consider to be your greatest success in using your skills to date?
"An important part of modern systems is the communication protocol between devices. This is especially relevant today with the world of IoT and wearables, which connects everything together.
"I was given the responsibility of creating HeartKey's BLE Profile, which was challenging but very rewarding. My daily work consisted of research, communicating with all teams, prototyping and refining.
"When the system worked, I was delighted because my work was a success!
"It’s very cool, when you develop something that is used in reality, although it may seem small, it’s this every-day, accessibility of technology that keeps us evolving."
Do you have any personal aspirations that B-Secur could help you achieve?
"As B-Secur is my first job, it’s clear to me that I still have so much to learn, and there are many areas to develop. I’m always keen to develop my soft skills and the future potential of a role that is more client facing is definitely something I’m interested in exploring.
"I’ve already seen my skills develop at B-Secur, working in a cross functional environment has provided great exposure to everything that goes on in the company and where each team can support a current project.
"My technical skills are constantly improving because of the great training and development offered by B-Secur. I recently started an Accredited Personal Development programme which is promising to asset in my personal life and career."
As you look ahead in the next several years, what do you see as B-Secur’s priorities?
"I think in any company there is a tension between growing what you already have, and developing ideas of the future.
"The nature of our work means there’s always going to be an emphasis on innovation and R&D, but I think there’s going to be a big focus on taking what we have and growing it out.
"Since I arrived each team has steadily grown steadily and will continue over the next few years, especially as products hit the market and use cases inevitably broaden.
"Any growth phase carries both risk and opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to being part of B-Secur as we make important steps as a company – challenging the way ECG is used and perceived in this world and stretching the horizons of possibility."