I vividly remember my first computer science class in secondary school. Picture a dimly lit IT classroom with carpets that haven't been changed in three decades. My teacher, Mr Harper, is introducing us to the concept of binary. He conducts a simple exercise for the students: starting with the number one, he asks the student next to him to double the number. Then the student next to that student doubles the number, and so on. It is a simple yet effective exercise demonstrating exponential growth and counting in binary. Bearing in mind, the students in the room, myself included, have little to no computing experience. We're at the Book of Genesis stage. For the first few students, this exercise is a breeze. "One", "two", "four", "eight", and so on. Unfortunately, I am sitting on the other side of the room, about fifteen students away.

Despite my interest in computing, mathematics was not a passion of mine at school. Like many of my peers, I had bought into the notion of "I'm just not good at maths". I had scraped the minimum required grade to qualify for Mr Harper's class but remained apathetic towards maths. My interests, at the time, were in music, art, and drama. It is a miracle that I even had an interest in computing, to begin with.

But now, in Mr Harper's classroom, there was nowhere to hide. Mathematics was at my door. The count would eventually make its way around the room to me, and I would have to find a way to compute the following number.

The count gets to me. The surge of adrenaline runs through me, and I freeze as I attempt to double 32,768 in my head. Mr Harper sees that I'm struggling and quips, "You all have these wonderful things called pens." The class laughs; I put my pen to the paper. As I'm frantically writing my calculations, I say aloud, "I'm going to get there". To my surprise, Mr Harper responds, "I know you will." Mr Harper will wait for me to figure out the answer even if it takes the rest of the lesson.

Finally, after an excruciatingly long thirty seconds, I put my pen down. "65,536!" I announce to the class. What little mathematical knowledge I had scraped together in the years prior had come through. I had just passed the first of countless tests in my pursuit of becoming a software engineer. And whilst I was happy that I conquered this relatively small challenge, I could not have known that the doubt I had felt at that moment in Mr Harper's classroom would never leave me.

*Doubt* and I have formed a close relationship over the years. At one time, doubt was my greatest foe. Doubt would keep me awake on a Sunday night, thinking about the coming week. *Doubt* would be sat next to me in meetings, second-guessing what I was saying. It was a constant in my professional life.

But at some point, I decided to turn doubt into my best friend. I used doubt to fuel my drive. Whenever it would rear its head, I would treat it as a sign that this moment was an opportunity to improve. I would start looking for ways to overcome it — to improve every day and become the best engineer I could be.

But what makes a great software engineer? Are great engineers just better programmers? Is it all about the code and the output? I have met many engineers who I consider exceptional throughout my career. Each one carries a plethora of value from which we could learn, which is the purpose of this Substack. Together we will explore what makes an exceptional engineer so that we may better understand to become one ourselves.

I submit to you a name for these lauded engineers: high-value engineers. The high-value engineer is not only valuable individually — they possess knowledge, skills, and wisdom that make them more effective at their day-to-day jobs — but also to those around them, be that their peers or the organisation for which they work.

My ambition is that as we embark on our journey, we will get closer to discovering the high-value engineer within us. The journey will be long; it will take time and effort, and we will stumble along the way. But we'll always move forwards.

Welcome to the High-Value Engineer; it's great to have you.