The Road to Low-Code – The Washington Post

To build an app, you might think you need a computer science degree – or at least, to learn an entirely new coding language. But all of that has changed with the rapid rise of low-code, a simplified coding method that empowers everyone — even non-computer scientists — to create digital applications. As a result, workers with an array of professional backgrounds, from hospitality to business development, are finding their way into careers that involve low-code.

Annelise Dubrovsky has experienced firsthand how low-code can shape a career path. “I never thought I would do anything development-related, because I had this notion of what traditional programming was,” she says. But getting a job at Appian, a leader in low-code, led to a realization: she could create impactful applications without getting into “the nitty-gritty of code.” Early in her career, Dubrovsky advanced from using Appian’s platform to developing the platform and handing it off to clients. In doing so, Dubrovsky, now a senior director for product management at Appian, empowers other low-code developers of all professional stripes to create their own solutions — and shape their own careers.

“The low-code developer is really that person who wants to deliver fast and meaningful impact to their company; we want to make them heroes,” Dubrovsky says.

Dubrovsky represents a new generation of workers for whom low-code is enabling meaningful career paths. No matter their professional background, these workers are discovering how low-code platforms maximize their creativity by allowing them to transform ideas into tangible products, without tripping over technicalities.

That’s especially true inside of Appian. The company strives to jumpstart   for low-code newcomers, and foster growth for employees at every stage of their low-code career. Appian offers a spate of formal professional development programs, such as an Appian MBA program for budding and current managers. The company also weaves professional development into its culture by offering Appian University training curriculum and instructor-led professional development courses, and encouraging employees to tackle challenges beyond their comfort zone. These so-called “stretch opportunities” can feel intimidating — but with the trust and support of more experienced colleagues, they generate rewarding outcomes.

“You don’t know what you’re capable of, but you know that you’ll have coaching throughout,” says Dubrovsky. “That happens all the time at Appian, from the intern level to where I am now. The team I’m leading is bigger than I ever thought it would be, and I got here because the leadership team both created and offered opportunities like that for me.”

Many onramps to low-code careers

Much like Dubrovsky, Megan Markert had never envisioned a career in coding. But after graduating with a degree in computer science and Japanese from the University of Rochester in 2017, Markert began working as a consultant and project lead for a technology company. That’s when she discovered low-code and the Appian platform. “I knew I didn’t want a very nuts-and-bolts experience in terms of leveraging my computer science background, so low-code really resonated with me once I started doing it,” Markert says. Namely, she liked being able to build an application without getting too bogged down with technicalities. The Appian Low-Code Platform “lets you push that all to the side and just focus on building something that looks good and functions as your users would expect,” she says.

Markert’s career has since taken off. Earlier this year, she became a senior technical consultant with Ignyte, a role that’s made her even more adept at using low-code. She represented her company in the Live Build Challenge hackathon at Appian World, a global conference for business and IT leaders — and won. Markert was the only woman in the competition and among the least experienced, but she’d prepped by immersing herself in Appian’s powerful drag-and-drop configuration tools, which “speed up development even more,” she says. Those skills have come in handy in her new role as product manager for Ignyte, enabling her to quickly create demo-applications for prospective clients geared specifically to the problem they want to solve.

Becoming a low-code expert also opened the door to unexpected career opportunities for Stefan Helzle. Moreover, his day-to-day work has gotten more rewarding. As a freelance business analyst more than a decade ago, Helzle joined the online Appian Community and taught himself to use the company’s low-code platform. That led to an opportunity to train a team of low-code designers in Germany and the Netherlands for a new company. Fast-forward to today, and Helzle is considered a low-code guru for the Appian Community and at PwC’s Munich office, where he works as a manager. Helzle helps PwC clients master low-code platforms and trains his colleagues to create more exciting client pitches using low-code. Rather than sending a slide-style presentation, they can build and deliver small, but functioning applications that clients can actually use. “I think that’s a pretty progressive way of giving a pitch to a client,” Helzle says.

How low-code enables meaningful work

Whether they’re just starting out or well into their careers, many workers find that low-code facilitates more meaningful work. Markert, for instance, has been working on a healthcare-focused solution that would put holistic health information — from Fitbit data to blood pressure levels to social determinants of health — into the hands of both patients and doctors.

Markert’s also working on a solution that helps people get virtual access to mental healthcare. The concept was born at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when social distancing prevented patients from accessing healthcare in-person, but Markert believes the technology will be beneficial long into the future. “We’re filling a gap in access to care. I really believe that these solutions are going to have a big, positive impact wherever they end up getting implemented,” she says.

Learning to use low-code has allowed Pranshu Jaryal to create impactful solutions as well. Having come from the hospitality industry in India, he lacked any coding experience when he started a graduate program in business analytics at the University of Texas at Dallas. But thanks to an Intelligent Automation course using the Appian platform for hands-on low-code learning, he says, “I could build my own application without any coding. That was really helpful for me.”

The first low-code application Jaryal built at UTD was a program that screens job candidates more efficiently. “I received an email rejection for a job at midnight one night and thought, ‘How is an HR department sending me an email this late? It must be some sort of automation tool,’” he says. He stayed up all night building his own version of a job application response tool – and sent it to his professor early the next morning. “It was one of the first moments I realized how much automation can change, and save time in, the workplace,” he says.

Because of his experience at UTD, he knows that low-code makes it possible to bring big-impact solutions to life. Now, Jaryal works as a remote consultant for the Seattle-based company Nextant and feels constantly empowered to create new low-code possibilities (his dream project is an application that would automate trading on the stock market).

Dubrovsky feels that same sense of empowerment. Her work with the Appian platform enables clients in the Washington, D.C., area to propel positive change across the country. One example is a solution that cuts through bureaucratic red-tape, helping ensure that rural communities in need of funding for broadband expansion can receive funds faster. That’s been especially crucial in light of the past year and the rise of remote schooling, and a perfect example of the kind of impactful work that low-code enables.

“It’s really exciting because we’re helping rural communities, schools and libraries get access to the Internet. When we talk about meaning, that’s really it,” says Dubrovsky.

Credits: By WP Creative Group.

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