Meet Opal Grant-Frater - Manning’s old girl driving technology solutions at Digicel

January 21, 2021
Opal Grant-Frater harboured thoughts of following her parents footsteps into teaching, but decided to chart her own path in software development.
Opal Grant-Frater, senior software developer at Digicel.

For most of her early years, Opal Grant-Frater had her eyes set on becoming a teacher. In fact, she felt it would only be fitting as both her parents, Aleta and Alva Grant, were educators.

However, in 2008 when she enrolled in the associate degree programme in management and information systems at Montego Bay Community College, she was immediately intrigued by the operations of computer systems and programming. It was then that it became clear that she was bitten by the technology bug.

The evident passion could not be concealed. Grant-Frater, now a senior software developer at Digicel Jamaica, welcomed our news team to her workspace on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old is a software developer, an area that has been listed as being among the fastest-growing careers. Software developers typically have a degree in computer science or software engineering. Grant-Frater earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in computing and information technology at the University of Technology. She loves her job

"It's just the thrill from getting a problem and creating a solution out of almost air. It's an ever-learning thing, it's interesting," she said, flashing a smile.

Grant-Frater, who hails from Baulk Road in Westmoreland, started working at Digicel in 2014 as its youngest software developer and has grown in the job. She is currently part of a 40-member team that is charged with ensuring that the company's computer applications work properly to guarantee customer satisfaction.

Demand for software developers

The Manning's School old girl said that the coronavirus pandemic has created an increase in demand for software developers and this demand will only get stronger as firms and people rely more on computer applications.

She does not get flushed by the thought of being in a male-dominated field.

"I do my job and I aim to do the best that I can. I have to work harder that they don't say, 'Oh, she's a woman, so she can get away with things.' They are sometimes shocked to see a female programmer, but they don't look down on me," she shared.

The senior software developer said that contrary to popular belief, software developers are not nerds who spend most of their lives behind computer screens. She said that although they spend hours figuring out software issues, they do have fun-filled, regular lives.

Grant-Frater is an avid anime fan who enjoys reading Japanese manga and spends time ensuring her skills are up to date by watching local software developers on YouTube.

"I plan to get a manager's position in information technology, but I don't want to move away from coding," she said.

Coding involves the creation of instructions that are written for computers to understand and respond accordingly. The software development market worldwide was valued at US$487 billion last year, and is expected to grow to US$507 billion this year.

"I enjoy programming because it doesn't get tiring, it doesn't get boring, because you're building something that someone eventually will use. I want to help others move towards being digitally oriented," Grant-Frater told THE STAR.

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