Meet Novicell’s Drupal Grand Master, Anita Jensen

Back in August, we wrote a blog post about How to Become an Umbraco MVP. This time, we sit down with Anita Jensen, one of our Web Developers, based in Novicell’s headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark.

Anita works with both frontend and backend in the Danish Drupal department for new and existing clients. She was the first Dane with a title of ‘Drupal Grand Master’, which means that she has completed all three Drupal 8 Developer Certifications. The title brings Anita into the company of fewer than 250 Drupal 8 Grand Masters worldwide.

We spoke with Anita about how she got into web development and about her Drupal Grand Master title.

Who is Anita Jensen?

Anita grew up on a farm not far away from Aarhus, so she considers herself a country girl. She studied Multimedia Design at Business Academy in Sønderhøj with the intention of becoming a web designer. As this education is quite broad, it takes you around all sorts of multimedia and web, and that is how she accidentally discovered programming, which was part of the curriculum.

I realised that the programming classes were a lot more interesting to me than the design classes, so I discovered the world of programming kind of accidentally and fell in love with it. And suddenly, I was a developer instead of a designer, says Anita.

What does Anita do?

Anita has worked for Novicell in Aarhus for over three years.

She uses PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) as a programming language and works primarily as a Drupal backend developer, but also knows frontend technology like JavaScript, CSS and HTML.

She believes being a full-stack developer (both frontend and backend) is always the best option, even if you are not very good at one of them. It is easier for front- and back-end developers to work together if they understand each other, and there is often a lot of overlap between the two.

For example, when I am trying to find the best way to implement a feature, I have to find a solution that works well for the frontend as well as the backend. When I know frontend development, I can make life easier for the frontender, and we can work better together as a team, says Anita.

She loves working with Drupal as she believes the framework is very well structured and powerful, and there is also a great community around it.

Drupal is very flexible and customisable, so it is great for building both basic websites and advanced custom solutions. There is a great community around it, where everyone can contribute extensions and plugins. Very often, when I am asked to implement a feature, other developers around the world have already built something similar, and I can install their module in my application. This way, I don’t have to code the same basic features over and over again, says Anita.

How does a typical workday look for Anita?

Novicell is a big company, so the projects are often quite big and last for many months, but Anita does not really like that.

I get bored if I have to work on a single project all the time every day for months or even years, but some of my colleagues prefer it this way, so we divide the tasks in a way where they do the huge projects, and I maintain existing clients and do smaller projects or work on multiple projects simultaneously. That way I get to work on many different things in the same day, and everyone is happy, says Anita.

Becoming a ‘Drupal Grand Master’

Anita was recently awarded the Drupal 8 Grand Master title. She was the first Dane to achieve this, and it brings Anita into the company of fewer than 250 Drupal 8 Grand Masters worldwide.

There are four different certifications concerning Drupal. Certified Site Builder (non-development certification), Certified Developer, Certified Frontend Specialist and Certified Backend Specialist. When you have all three development certificates, you can call yourself a Drupal Grand Master.

The exams are multiple choice tests, and in every question you are given a scenario. In my work as a developer, I have gotten used to being able to look up everything in the documentation or on Google, and I hadn’t realised before I started the certification program how much I rely on that. For me, the most challenging thing about the exams was to remember it all by heart, says Anita.

Anita’s advice to anyone interested in becoming a Drupal Grand Master is to just take the test.  

You can always retake the test, so what’s the worst thing that can happen? If you fail, you will be better prepared for next time. I think a lot of people have a fear of failing, so they don’t even try and that is failing even harder, says Anita.


What does Anita do outside work?

At Novicell in Aarhus, Anita works with both frontend and backend in the Drupal department for new and existing clients. She is the first Dane with a title of Drupal Grand Master, which means that she has completed all three Drupal 8 Developer Certifications. The title brings Anita into the company of fewer than 250 Drupal 8 Grand Masters worldwide.

Anita has worked for Novicell in Aarhus for over three years. After sitting behind her computer all day, thinking about complex abstract things and using mostly the logical and analytical half of her brain, she likes to use the other half when she gets home.

Anita is currently working on renovating her house in the countryside, putting up drywall and ceilings, and doing a lot of handy work. She also likes all sorts of arts and crafts, like knitting, sewing and drawing.

I have a lot of hobbies, since I like learning new things. After working with ones and zeros all day, I like to work with anything I can see and touch, like gardening or cooking or knitting. One of my hobbies is willow weaving. I love that there is a community around this, and I have found a lot of friends there, but I still feel it is kind of a dorky hobby, says Anita.

How is it to be a female developer?

Back in the 1950s, when computers were invented, most developers were actually female, but over the years it became a male-dominated profession. Anita says that she is starting to see more and more women within the field again.

Anita Jensen encourages all women with interest in technology to try it out. Being a developer, Anita found a position where she can express herself in a way that she couldn’t in other roles.

I think this job fits my personality really well. I feel that I fit in and can be myself here. I also feel I’m really good at it, and that gives me confidence. I discovered coding accidentally, and I’m so thankful I did, because I don’t think I would have ever thought of it myself. I’m sure there are thousands of women out there who don’t know how much they would love coding, and we have to tell them.

Anita believes that what is holding women back has a lot to do with their own presumptions of what developing is, and the picture that they associate with it.

I think a lot of people have these prejudices that coders are socially awkward nerds, and that they are boring and dorky and have no style. But that’s completely not true, says Anita. 

I think this is the main reason that there are so few women in coding. Teenage girls often care a lot about what others think of them. If they believe it will make people see them as dorky and awkward, they will never choose to take an education as a developer, and they never get into the profession, says Anita.

She encourages all women to try and change this mindset. They should not be afraid of what others think.

One of the biggest hurdles for women to overcome, is the one in their own head. Many women are afraid that men won’t respect them or take them seriously in a male-dominated profession, but I have never felt that to be true at all. I have never met any male developers who don’t want the opinion of a woman, so you shouldn’t be afraid to voice yours, says Anita.

Overall, Anita Jensen hasn’t experienced any difference in the treatment of male and female developers. She enjoys the community within the field and is motivated to go to work every day.

Working for Novicell

Anita thinks that the greatest thing about Novicell is culture and the colleagues.

You can get a good salary and perks at most agencies. In Novicell, we have a great atmosphere and a community, and that creates a great work environment. It’s the people and not the pay that makes all the difference, says Anita.

Want to hear more about Novicell?

Novicell is a digital consulting company with more than 20 years of experience in both, Software Development and Digital Marketing.

We are always on the look out for more people to join our London office. Check out our vacancies, and you are more than welcome to reach out to us if you have any questions.