Meet Thomas Marshall, Engineer at OpenCorporates

Hello. Tell us about who you are & what role you will be doing OpenCorporates.
I’m Tom and I’m an engineer at OpenCorporates (I joined in January). I’ll be working across the tech stack on everything from designing interactions to building APIs. My experience is primarily as a front-end developer so I’ll mostly be looking at how users interact with the OpenCorporates websites and access data. A decade ago I went to art school before learning to write code, and have since worked on all kinds of projects for artists, businesses, charities, and other organisations.


What drew you to OpenCorporates?
I’m excited about the civic mission that drives OpenCorporates and want to spend my time working on socially useful projects. I’m also interested in the challenges that come with the huge amounts of data OpenCorporates deals in, and how to make it as widely and easily accessible as possible. It’s a surprisingly small team too, so the breadth of activities I’ve been working on so far is interesting. Everything from conceptualising data models, to writing bots that gather and process data, to physically relocating servers at the data centre.

Where did you grow up?

What’s your favourite childhood snack?
Tangy Toms

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Buenos Aires

What is the first computer program you wrote?
I bought a book on HTML from the book fair at my primary school. We didn’t have internet access but I made a website locally for my film reviews. It was a 3D font, white on bright blue, all caps, and featured my reviews of Titanic (overrated) and Starship Troopers (film of the year, but probably not suitable for a 10-year-old). Hopefully my design sensibilities have developed somewhat since then.

What is the next language you’d like to learn?
I’ve been toying with Elixir recently. The only functional programming I’ve done prior to that was working through a couple of chapters on Clojure and Haskell in the excellent book Seven Languages in Seven Weeks by Bruce A. Tate. It’s less that I might want to build something substantial in Elixir, and more that it’s fun to learn new concepts and ways of approaching problems. I’m also trying to learn Spanish, which is going less well.

What do you like doing in your spare time?
Outside of work I like to get out of London as much as possible. Just before joining OpenCorporates, I spent three months travelling around South America hiking, biking, and eating salteñas. Otherwise my time is mainly spent reading, failing to learn Spanish, and of course more programming.

What’s your favourite book/movie/tv show and why?
I’m not sure I have a favourite book (or movie or TV show), but my recently enjoyed fiction and nonfiction picks are Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, and Capitalist Realism by the late Mark Fisher.