Leading SA software development company bbd – with operations in South Africa and Europe – is continually striving to bring new skills into its local development teams. Each year the company scours universities for talented graduates to bring on board as interns, and eventually nurture into full-time programmers. 
The company’s drive for skills is not simply about finding people with the right aptitude to work for bbd, but also to afford interns the opportunity to participate in the best of real-world development environments. This permits the company to help them develop their skills in specific areas of interest and boost the interns’ and bbd’s development potential.
“This means bbd attracts a host of people from different backgrounds, each with a unique story to tell,” says Peter Searle, CEO of bbd.
“The fact is our development teams are a study in diversity, not only because we have men and women from different races and backgrounds, but also because of the stories many of our programmers tell.”
Whatever users may think of a Java programmer, they probably don’t think of an avid soap opera fan. One of bbd’s rising Java stars is more than simply a soapie fan; he was a hit on the Generations series before turning his back on stardom to study Java with VZAP (Van Zyl & Pritchard), one of SA’s leading training and development organisations, with nearly 30 years’ IT experience.
He passed the aptitude test with a 93% score which boosted his confidence – and he has never looked back.
He joined bbd as a learner shortly before the end of his six-month Java course and then progressed to the J2EE course with VZAP. Following the completion of the J2EE course in August 2008, he was deployed to bbd’s Vodacom team and was offered a permanent position by bbd in March 2009.
Searle adds that it is not only a programming language that makes bbd’s developers the best in the business, but the mentorship they receive from experienced employees as well as the business and life skills they learn.
One graduate of the bbd learnership and mentoring programme notes: “The spirit of togetherness that exists in bbd’s development team, where individual brilliance is secondary to the success of the team, is a huge motivator. In addition there is very experienced skills base from which to draw knowledge.”
“There’s obviously much more that I will still learn, but it helps a great deal that I have established a solid foundation on which I can build. With the pressure to produce at a constant high, I try to make time to take part in on-going training. I’m very excited about being a part of bbd and I will continue to work hard to contribute to the positive progression of the company and my own personal development.”
Another bbd success story comes from the world of multi-player network gaming. While earning his honours in Information Technology from the University of Johannesburg, this gamer secured an internship with bbd and immediately went into the mobile development field.
He is still involved in mobile development for Apple’s iOS platform, programming in Objective C and having fun creating animations and user interfaces.
“It is a great working environment. We are all encouraged to collaborate to accomplish a common goal. bbd employees enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences, which makes work a great learning environment.”
And then there are those who had no inkling of finding a career in application development. Another rising star in bbd first obtained a degree in Biomedical Engineering and then another in Electrical Engineering. It was during his studies that he discovered an appreciation for software programming.
After taking a year off to travel through Europe and South America, he was grabbed as a mobile software developer by bbd and is still there today. He says the work at bbd has been challenging, but very interesting.
“I think bbd offers a great work environment and a really good infrastructure to grow as a developer. There is a huge base of knowledgeable people and a company philosophy of continual learning and skills development.”
Careful selection of a diverse, yet dedicated team of people has made bbd a leader in its field. Formed in 1984, the company has grown and today employs more than 450 software development professionals in its development centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Bulgaria.