Calls to Code: AO Employee Switches Contact Centers for a Tech Career

From contact center agent to web developer, Blackburn’s Carmen Charnley has come a long way in her first six years at online electricals retailer AO.

After working for her local council for almost a decade, Carmen, 37, was ready to take on a new challenge with the Bolton-based company. Never in a million years would she have imagined she would be writing code for the retailer’s website.

Six years ago, Carmen started in the contact center to respond to customer requests, before joining the quality team. When the opportunity arose to attend a coding workshop, she jumped at the chance to try something completely new and quickly signed up for an intensive bootcamp with Code Nation.

Never having considered herself a ‘techie’, Carmen was surprised at how much she enjoyed the sessions. She said: ‘I didn’t even have the internet when I was at university so tech wasn’t an option I even considered. I’ve always thought that you need years of IT experience to work in technology.

Code Nation’s 12-week course covered both front-end and back-end development, with participants visiting AO’s office once a month to sit down with their tech team. She said: “I really got stuck in from day one and learned so much in those few weeks. I was amazed at how quickly I understood different coding languages. On the last day, I had to present the website I had produced to the company. Rather than just practicing in my spare time, I was working on a real project for a real company.

After graduating from bootcamp, Carmen got a job as a front-end developer and is now a highly valued member of AO’s tech team. She said, “I run the customer-facing website and want to help our customers choose the right products for them more easily, so my knowledge of the contact center has come in handy!”

Since taking on a full-time role at Tech, Carmen has found her passion for front-end development, and she only wishes she could have started her new career sooner. Every day she works on everything from product listings to the AO homepage. She said: “There are times when you’ll be spinning around for hours on something that isn’t working. But when it kicks in, it’s the best feeling in the world – I wish I could have learned that stuff when I was a kid.

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