Meet the MD: Harvey Wheaton of CodeClan

Meet the MD: Harvey Wheaton of CodeClan

Chief Executive of CodeClan Harvey Wheaton has spent his whole career in software development, and now spends his days helping others boost their digital skills alongside his team. He caught up with BQ to tell us more...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

As Chief Executive of CodeClan my role involves a lively mix of business and strategic planning, supporting the day-to-day operations of a busy learning environment and working to support our amazing group of stakeholders and partners.  I also try to keep involved in the classroom by teaching Agile and Scrum methods to our students and sharing my experiences from real-world software development.


What is it the company does?

CodeClan is Scotland’s first digital skills academy.  We are teaching people to be junior developers by putting them through a highly intensive 16-week programme supported by a passionate team of instructors.  We exist to fill the large gap in digital skills in the Scottish market and our success is measured by the employability of our students and the transferability of their skills at the end of the course.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I have spent my whole career in software development, initially as a developer but moving on to project management and latterly COO roles and Agile coaching.  I started with what was then Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) as a graduate trainee in the North West of England nearly 30 years ago and moved to Scotland in 1994, working for Cap Gemini and then JP Morgan’s Technology Centre in Glasgow.  From 2003 I moved to the video games sector, working for Electronic Arts in Surrey, Criterion Games and then for a start-up company, Supermassive Games. I then worked as an Agile Coach across a wide variety of games and financial services companies.  I joined CodeClan in September 2015, seeing it as a great opportunity to get involved in educating the next generation of developers.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I think it’s a combination of experience, having a passion for helping others succeed and a toolkit of techniques we pick up along the way.  I’ve seen so many leadership styles and every leader is different in their approach.  I’ve been hugely influenced by those leaders that truly value the people they work with, set them big challenges and then support where needed.  Above all else, great leaders need a relentless focus on results, which in turn requires total clarity on what we are trying to achieve and the part everyone in the organisation has to play in this.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Nothing different to any start-up I think, that is,  juggling a constantly shifting list of priorities, dealing with rapid change, adapting quickly as we learn and trying to get the right balance of internal and external focus.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I have a variety of strategies that I’ve learned along the way – it’s so important to get this right because for all of us, the potential work is essentially infinite and can be hugely pressurised.  Although I’m an early starter, I try hard not to burn the candle at both ends and have a strict rule about not taking work home at evenings or weekends.  Whenever possible I try to get away from my desk for lunch and at least get some fresh air and thinking time.  I’m not an exercise fanatic by any means but I do cycle and find that even a 20-minute jaunt along the Union Canal is a great way to unwind after a busy day.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I never had any big ambitions but I did discover computers and coding very early on and for a long time really wanted to be a programmer, making video games. 


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Apathy and ego – we should all be passionate about what we do and be prepared to do whatever it takes, as a team, to achieve our goals and ambitions.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I believe that in five years’ time CodeClan will have made a very big impact on the talent landscape in Scotland and will be creating 1,000 entry-level developers every year from at least three locations.  We will be offering a diverse range of courses in addition to the current 16-week coding course, which will have evolved beyond recognition to meet the needs of the tech industry.  Our model will be recognised around the world as a standard for enhancing the talent pool of digital economies.  As a not-for-profit company we will also be providing significant financial support to a wide range of students who would otherwise not be able to take the step into the world of digital employment.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Our job is to make decisions and best prioritise the finite resources of our organisations to achieve our business objectives.  This requires a lot of thinking so make sure you give yourself the appropriate time and space to do this effectively.  Great leadership is 90% thinking and 10% doing. Not the other way round!