15 min read

6 people who changed careers with low-code from Power Apps

The tech sector is booming with jobs and opportunities. But for some people, the question is: how do I get in? Coding jobs seem out of reach for those without degrees in computer science, IT, or engineering. However, with low-code app tools, some grit and curiosity, anyone can now realize a career in tech. This is one of the most exciting elements of Microsoft Power Platform.

We spoke to six people who changed their careers and lives by learning how to build low-code apps with Microsoft Power Platform. None of them came from traditional computer science backgrounds, but all of them are now in technology careers building apps that are changing their workplaces for the better. Check out our Q&A below:

Jacqui Peck: The audiologist who became a low-code developer analyst Nashwin Shannick Kiewitz: The geospatial technician who builds apps to electrify South Africa Sheryl Netley: The IT support manager who became a senior low code consultant

Nick Gill: The HR specialist who became a Power Platform solution architect Jayne Smith: The small business owner who develops apps Derek Lichtenwalner: The bricklayer turned app builder

Jacqui Peck: The audiologist who became a low-code developer analyst

Jacqui Peck
What’s your training and educational background?

I studied biomedical science in university and have a clinical masters in audiology. I worked as an audiologist for thirteen years, both pediatric and adult diagnostic audiology.

How did you find low-code?

I worked at Hearing Australia and traveled all over the country delivering audiology services. We often went to remote areas out of cell service range, and we were on the road where we might have needed to work offline on our laptops.

We recorded things on manual forms that we couldn’t share, and information was being replicated in different places. The people in the communities we’d visit would move, and that made consistent recordkeeping difficult and easily outdated. There was staff turnover at local medical centers.

I saw a need for better ways of communicating and recording and sharing data.

We needed a system with live data that we could access as a single source of truth and that would get replicated across systems. And it needed to be easy for any staff member to use—audiologists, administrative staff, and engagement officers.

I started to do some research and happened to see a webinar of someone in the UK who’d built a Power App to collect information remotely, and I thought to myself, I’m going to give this a go. I taught myself on weekends and after hours how to build canvas apps.

What impact did you make with low-code?

I showed one of the apps to my boss and she liked it.

I built an app that enabled Community Engagement Officers and the operations team to do data entry from a desktop computer. That same data is available for another app for audiologists to use on mobile phones while working in the field. The audiologists can also access training material, so their app became a one-stop shop for the clinical team, and both apps use a single source of data in Microsoft Dataverse.

What’s your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

My previous job title was Senior Audiologist. Now I’m a Low-Code Developer Analyst.

What do you predict or hope for your career in low code?

The future of IT looks like non-technical people solving their own business problems with these tools. People approach me with a business problem, and we work together to build apps and automations and virtual agents that solve an issue for them, and IT and developers help us push these into core systems. This way of working speeds up innovation, rather than the old way of having analysts map issues for months and then giving those to a developer to interpret. The way we work now solves the real problems our workers have.

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code?

Watch a lot of videos and play with the tools. Have a project in mind—I knew what I wanted to build and the problem I was trying to solve. Engage the low-code community. Ask for help from people in IT and developer worlds. Any time I asked someone for help with an issue, they each gave me a little of their time. If you ask for a little help from each person, it’s easy to gain the support you need.

Learn about the Power Platform solution built by Jacqui.

Nashwin Shannick Kiewitz: The geospatial technician who builds apps to electrify South Africa

Nashwin Shannick Kiewitz
What’s your training and education background?

After high school I studied electrical engineering and computer systems in college. I’ve spent my career working as a geospatial technician at Eskom, the primary electricity provider in South Africa.

How did you find low-code?

At a large organization like Eskom there are many processes that are manual and administrative-driven—we put some information in Excel spreadsheets, some information is on paper, while other information lives in legacy applications not connected to other systems. There are limitations to what you can do with data when it’s disconnected from each other, and a lot of the work becomes manual and repetitive—copy from here, paste there, attach to an email. My frustration with these manual processes and doing the same steps over and over is how I came to find the Power Platform and low code.

What impact did you make with low-code?

We needed a cost-efficient solution to grant access to our buildings, so we built a mobile app with Power Apps using QR codes for self-check-in of employees and visitors.  We also built apps for fleet management and inspection, managing legal cases, and more. One of the apps I’m proudest of is the performance app, which tracks the performance of the business, because it helps executives track our progress against the company’s vision and goals.

What was your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

Low code is relatively new, so sometimes the job title is difficult to place because you don’t want to limit the role. I moved from geospatial technician to an information system officer. They created a job profile around that position, and I left a provincial role for a position with a broader scope at the head office. I work on improving business processes and how we can systemize processes or make them more efficient. Where there’s an opportunity to digitize something, that’s where I come in.

What do you predict or hope for your career in low-code?

I hope to become an internal consultant for the company where I can add value to different aspects of the business. I want to be able to solve problems across many divisions, helping improve business processes in HR or finance or engineering, or anywhere else the company needs me.

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code development?

At the very start what’s important is to develop a logical mindset. It’ll allow you to take a big problem and break it into pieces. You begin solving a complicated problem by asking simple questions. I like to use a flowchart. A logical mindset enables you to look at a problem and not be intimidated, and helps you look at it in a way that you can begin to tackle it.

Learn more about the Power Platform solutions built by Nashwin.

Sheryl Netley: The IT support manager who became a senior low code consultant

Sheryl Netley
What’s your training and education background?

I was a smart kid and went to college, but I dropped out before I finished because of family issues. I’ve worked a lot of different jobs, including human resources, advertising agency, HR, and IT.

How did you find low-code?

It was sort of by accident. I’d been employed by a Microsoft partner to help with IT service management. While I was working at the Microsoft partner, Power Apps and Power Automate were starting to gain more attention. I thought to myself, there is huge potential in this platform.

I ended up being made redundant [laid off] a couple of times, but the last time I was given three months’ pay and I decided to take a chance on the Power Platform. Over a couple of months, I got ahold of all the community content I could find and taught myself how to use the Power Platform. I used LinkedIn Learning and the Azure Fundamentals course, and through that I met the Power Platform community, and have passed a bunch of certifications in Power Platform and Dynamics 365.

On the third month of my self-guided education, I thought OK I’m still learning, but I’m going to try and get a job based on what I know. I applied for IT services jobs and Power Platform and Dynamics 365 jobs, and I got a load of offers for Power Platform.

That was three years ago, and I have not looked back. From zero knowledge, to self-taught and working in Power Platform.

What impact did you make with low-code?

I worked in defense for a while on some transformational projects that used canvas and model driven apps to help with internal processes for hundreds of thousands of users. Defense is an area that’s very structured and things have been done the same way for a long time, so there were a lot of opportunities to modernize business processes.

I also worked with healthcare when the pandemic struck to help healthcare organizations with their processes, and transform how services are delivered in the pandemic.

I work for cloudThing, a Microsoft partner, and I’m working with a UK non-profit that has a huge number of volunteers, and with the Driving and Vehicles Standards Agency, an organization that ensures road safety, on another major transformational project.

What was your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

I was an enterprise services manager, a posh way of saying I managed the support team. Now I’m a senior functional consultant and I translate business requirements into technical solutions using Power Platform.

What do you predict or hope for your career in low-code?

I consider myself a lifelong learner. Even the most clever people I work with, every day they are learning something new. My hope is I keep learning and carry on making a difference in the world with organizations doing meaningful work. I also recently became a Microsoft MVP!

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code development?

Take the leap. One of my favorite sayings is a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Just take that step and come join the community. All of us started from nowhere. We know what it’s like, and people will help you. I’d also say learn, learn, learn. The certifications have helped as a motivation tool.

Also, it’s never too late. I’d always felt that by not finishing college I hadn’t achieved my potential. But now I feel I’ve done that. The Power Addicts mantra is we rise by lifting others. If anybody needs guidance or advice, anyone out there thinking I don’t know where to go our what to do, just reach out.

Learn more about Sheryl’s Power Apps journey.

Nick Gill: The HR specialist who became a Power Platform solution architect

Nick Gill
What’s your training and education background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in human resources. I worked at the American Red Cross where I advanced through various positions beginning with supervising teams of CPR instructors and ending with managing the service delivery logistics team for the whole country. I was a heavy user of Power Platform and got the opportunity to learn a lot during many different app, flow, and report builds for the organization.  I was not in an IT position, but the IT team empowered and encouraged me as a super-user and eventual subject matter expert of the Power Platform.

How did you find low-code?

I realized in managing the CPR instructors that we lacked a clear view of inventory and training supplies like gloves, face shields, and pocket masks. We tracked this manually on paper forms that were time intensive and not easily manageable. I identified a need to do data collection so we could manage supplies.

I was familiar with InfoPath and SharePoint, so I said let’s use InfoPath to monitor what supplies people are requesting but I quickly hit limitations. I came across Power Apps in the Office 365 app launcher and began learning and building. I was eventually selected to join the Power Apps Champions group and asked someone on the Microsoft Power Apps Customer Advisory Team for help in navigating IT.

What impact did you make with low-code?

I created a supply app for American Red Cross with Power Apps that was rolled out nationally and allowed CPR instructors to order supplies and enabled us to track inventory in real-time. Over the years I made many Power Apps at the Red Cross for use nationally, including the supply app, a COVID case management solution, and apps that supported disaster services.

I formed a user group and helped mentor new makers. I’ve since taken a role with AIS where I help customers design and implement low-code solutions. Right now, I’m working with one of the largest insurance companies in the country. They have 10,000 InfoPath forms they’re trying to modernize into more efficient low-code apps across a lot of their processes

What do you predict or hope for your career in low-code?

Finding low-code has been life-changing for me. I learned and adopted new skills that gave me a chance to move into a career that’s allowed my family and I to live more comfortably.

Right now, I’m learning C4 modeling for architecture diagraming, and in the future, I’d like to get deeper on projects where I’m working on Azure and Power Platform together.

Someday, I’d also love to start my own blog.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code development?

The only thing that stopped me from pursuing this sooner was not believing that I could do it. My advice would be to have confidence in your ability to learn something new and listen to the people around you who believe in you. The Microsoft Power Apps Customer Advisory Team had so much great advice, they believed in me, and celebrated the successes.

Also, don’t let titles define you. Just because you’re in a non-tech position doesn’t mean you can’t learn low-code.

Finally, find your people. Go to a place where you can geek out about the stuff that you’re working on.

What was your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

Previously, I was a Service Delivery Logistics Manager for Supply Chain Management. Currently, I’m a Power Platform Solution Architect for the Solutions Team at AIS.

Jayne Smith: The small business owner who develops apps

Jayne Smith
What’s your training and education background?

I never went to university. I learned through working and applying the knowledge I absorbed in jobs. I have a general enthusiasm and interest in how things work. I had the opportunity to start my own business in 2005, and that’s when a lot of my learning happened. I started Bluebird Services, which provides lawyers and professionals with transcription and document services. You have to learn a lot very quickly when you start your own business. You have to grow and develop all the time.

How did you find low-code?

I was introduced to low code and Power Apps by a friend who’s an adoption specialist. I’d never even heard the term low code before then. Once I found the Power Platform community and started talking about what I was doing, that’s when my interest in building solutions accelerated. It was amazing to find people who’ve been using low code for years and through Microsoft I found this huge community online that helped me progress in building my skills.

What impact did you make with low-code?

Bluebird Services produces documents and audio transcriptions. We had a workload system to track projects, but reports and invoices were becoming big and cumbersome. I thought about hiring a software developer because it was taking me so long to work through information across different programs, like Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint. But as a small business, hiring a software developer would have been a substantial expense. I decided to try to fix it myself and I created a Power App where my team enters key information that’s stored in a SharePoint list, and that SharePoint then gives me the report with key information I need in one place. I learned how to create a Power BI dashboard, so I have visibility into my business and what targets we’re meeting. I’ve gone from manually recording information to more automated recording.

What was your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

I was a chief executive of a team of business document specialists, and that’s still my title, but I can add productivity specialist to my list of skills.

What do you predict or hope for your career in low-code?

I’d like to build a community of other businesses who embrace low code and help them implement better productivity tools. That’s the next stage of a skillset. When I was in school, computers were rare.  My children finished school with basic IT instruction, and I believe that instruction should include low code now. Whoever chooses to learn low code will create opportunity in the workplace.

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code development?

Don’t wait for permission. Find something you believe you can change, do it, and show others what you’ve built. Some people don’t believe it’s their place to create these solutions, and you might need permission to get access to the tech, but ask for it, and join the communities to learn.

Derek Lichtenwalner: The bricklayer turned app builder

Derek Lichtenwalner
What’s your training and education background?

I graduated high school and went to a trade school for masonry. I worked on dormitories, universities, schools, and courthouses. Eventually I went to work at a large company with a bottled water operation where I worked as a production technician and operated the production line. I did quality checks for the equipment and fixed issues that halted production. 
How did you find low-code?

After my production technician role, I moved onto a coordinator role focused on helping the production lines become more efficient. After that I transitioned into the supervisor role.

I piloted an application at my factory that was built by an outside vendor. The app encompassed features that helped us understand what machines did at all times, tracked changes to machine settings, included key training materials for machinery, and tracked skill levels across staff to ensure people were trained correctly. The app was great, but they were slow to turn around any new feature request we made. Any time I brought up a change I’d like made; it was a 9-12 month turnaround time. As I was going through this process with the vendor, my manager mentioned this program called Power Apps in our Office 365. Microsoft came to show us what it was capable of at a hackathon. I thought instead of using the outside vendor, we could easily switch to Power Apps and have better functionality and make what we need when we need it, and without paying an outside company to do it.

What impact did you make with low-code?

I created the autonomous maintenance app. It tracks abnormalities on the production line so we can fix them before the line breaks down. I added features like cleaning, inspection, and lubrication tasks on the line to ensure it’s done at certain times, tasks to measure centerline setpoints on the equipment to ensure maximum efficiency, and a way to identify where we’re having losses on the production line so we can reduce or eliminate them. I’m adding another feature on our 5s standards on the production line, because we always need certain amounts of supplies available, as well as tools, so that way we’re aware of quantities and are never wasting time stopping the line to get supplies. The app is in six factories nationwide and expanding. To build the app I originally used SharePoint as the database, but soon transitioned over to Dataverse.  I built the application as a canvas app in Power Apps and made use of Power Automate and Power BI.

What was your previous job title? What’s your job title now?

My previous job title was production coordinator. My job title now is digital transformation specialist.

What do you predict or hope for your career in low-code? 

I hope to excel in this career and be in a position doing full time application development/management to help my organization save money and become more efficient by building in-house solutions. It’s been eye opening to me, the speed with which solutions are built, and I want to help provide my organization with an avenue to increase profit while engaging the workforce through easy-to-use applications.

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in low-code development?

Do it and absorb as much as you can from the process. You’re always going to have the ability to add to your app in the future, whether through learning a little Python or JSON to add to your script. Low code also empowers you to build something that suits your own needs without paying an outside vendor or wait on someone else’s timeline for a solution. It makes sense to do it yourself, and because it’s low-code, it’s fast and exactly what you desire.

Learn more about the Power Apps solutions built by Derek.

Low code empowers everyone to be a developer

No matter the technology expertise, everyone can use Microsoft Power Platform to have tremendous impact in their communities and their careers. Thank you to these six amazing developers for sharing their stories—their dedication, energy, and ingenuity are inspiring.

Start your low-code journey today with Microsoft Power Platform.

Read more stories of individuals building low-code solutions with Microsoft Power Platform.