Chris Young is a seasoned member of our Development Team and yet, incredibly, still to hit 30 years of age! Born and bred in Banbury, UK, home to Zafire’s global headquarters, his coding skills are second to none and he is undoubtedly an asset to the team.
We talked to Chris about his career to date at Zafire and to find out more about him, both personally and professionally.
How long have you worked at Zafire?
Believe it or not, over a decade. After studying IT for two years at the local Banbury and Bicester College (less than two miles from Zafire House in Banbury, UK), I joined Zafire Group Ltd in July 2012 as a Junior Developer. I was promoted to Developer a year or so later and promoted again to Lead Developer in 2018.
Being a software developer at Zafire entails writing the code that powers our amazing Smart and Aviation products to meet our customers’ requirements. As Lead Developer, I also have line management responsibility. Occasionally, I get to travel and meet our customers in the UK and overseas which is always a great experience. I was given the opportunity to travel to Norway and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at our Global Aviation Software Solutions in action. I had never been on a plane or even owned a passport before joining Zafire!
Where have you worked previously?
I had a couple of weekend jobs as a student. My first weekend job was washing dishes in a local café. It was hard work but we were given any treats leftover that day to take home at the end of our shift which made up for the drudgery. My second weekend job was as a sales advisor at a well-known, high street technology store. I will always remember being asked to help count the takings at the end of the day because I’d end up holding a five-figure handful of cash: just imagine how many sweets you could buy with that amount of money!
What do you like most about working at Zafire?
The people who work at Zafire are what I like most about working at Zafire! My colleagues come from very different backgrounds but they are all very friendly, incredibly knowledgeable, and always willing to help and give advice if you need a hand with anything you are working on. It’s a great working environment with a fantastic team spirit.
What has been your proudest moment at Zafire?
I don’t think I can tie it down to a specific moment. When projects are implemented, customers start to use the new functionality we develop and, when positive feedback starts filtering back to the team from these customers, it’s a great feeling to know that all the time and effort that has been put in as a team has paid off and our customers are genuinely happy.
Which is your favourite Zafire product?
All our Aviation and Service Management products are great, of course! However, my particular favourite would have to be FirstRamp (our comprehensive, cloud-based aircraft turnaround planning, servicing, resource and fleet optimisation, and business intelligence reporting application) which I’ve personally been working on since 2017. The system looks good and has plenty of useful functionality for both mobile and back office. It has been a really interesting experience learning about aircraft handling, and all the processes involved in turning around an aircraft on the ramp, during the development of the FirstRamp system.
Do you have a life-long ambition?
I would absolutely love to own a Ford Mustang one day if I can make that happen. I’d also like to see a bit more of the world and experience the different cultures out there. New Zealand, Italy, and the United States are on the list currently. I went to Iceland a few years back on a grand adventure which was spectacular. Great roads, amazing scenery, and relaxing at the Blue Lagoon were the highlights of that trip. They do say that travel broadens the mind!
What was the first movie you saw at the cinema?
I can’t actually remember the very first movie I saw at the cinema, but I do remember going to see The Fellowship of the Ring and being blown away by it. I’d never seen anything like it before and I loved the storyline, the characters, and, of course, the stunning scenery. It’s definitely inspired me to visit New Zealand one day, where it was filmed.
Android or Apple?
No disrespect to Android users but Apple gets my vote! My Dad is an avid Apple fan and, I was lucky enough to inherit his old devices whenever he upgraded to the latest version. Apple products look great and are well made. The UX is excellent and I love how all Apple products connect seamlessly with each other. I’m not a fan of Siri though (or Alexa, for that matter) who I find a bit annoying!
Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there?
As you may have gathered from my college days, I was born and raised in Banbury. It’s an historic market town in Oxfordshire which has everything you could possibly want in your day-to-day life, really. It also has great rail links to Oxford and London. I moved out of Banbury in 2021 but I still commute a short distance by car to Zafire’s global headquarters in Banbury, so I haven’t really left! It was a great place to live and grow up, and it’s a great place to work.
What technological development do you think will happen in your lifetime?
It would be amazing to see people landing on Mars (I would have loved to have witnessed the 1969 Moon Landing)! I don’t know if that will happen in my lifetime but I really hope it does. I would like to see us moving away entirely from fossil fuels to generate the energy we need to live our lives. Solar and wind is already adopted into the grid, but to see scientists crack fusion power and get that working would be great. Achieving net zero and protecting the environment has to be a priority in my lifetime.
Name three gadgets you cannot live without.
My smartphone is definitely the gadget that gets the most use, although I’m hesitant to say that I cannot live without it! Smartphones do so much for us these days: being connected to the world around us and having access to all the services we need at our fingertips has improved so many people’s quality of life. However, I do sometimes think that we could do with spending more time in the real world and less time having our attention stolen by the latest smartphone features!
I wouldn’t want to live without my car. I love driving and the freedom having your own car gives you. I currently have a Ford Puma ST in Mean Green, which is a vibrant bright green colour that makes finding it in the car park nice and easy!
The last one is an application rather than a gadget. I spend an enormous amount of time on the AutoTrader app searching for new cars and dreaming. I think I’d be gutted if that disappeared from existence!
Which is your favourite era in history?
It’s quite difficult to choose just one! Imagine watching the pyramids being built or chatting to Leonardo da Vinci about his inventions: Ancient Egypt and Renaissance Italy would definitely be close contenders for my favourite eras in history. The way of life and the architecture were so different in those times compared to now. Modern life seems quite mundane in comparison with architecture, for example, being virtually the same wherever you go these days.
Who do you admire most in the world?
If I could choose anybody in the world to admire the most, I would always choose my parents. They worked so hard to make sure my brother and sisters and I had a good life. They always prioritised our needs over their own. My dad would take on extra shifts and my mum was always there to take care of us after school. We were very lucky and, without a doubt, I look up to them the most.
Where are you most at peace?
When I’m driving my car on a lush summer evening, listening to music from my teens and early twenties, I am definitely at peace then.
What is keeping you entertained at the moment?
In terms of podcasts, my current favourites are Behind the Glass, Fully Charged Show, and Collecting Cars. In terms of TV, I’ve been watching Chernobyl, Jack Ryan, and The Last of Us, and recently revisited a childhood classic from my day, Pokémon. In terms of gaming, I am currently playing through the latest Formula 1 racing game, however this time round I’ve bought myself a racing wheel and pedals to really take things to the next level!
Thank you very much Chris!