Friday, October 27, 2017

My Career Trajectory

This blog post is inspired from the first episode of the US smash sci-fi hit, Heroes Series 4 - Orientation. Claire Bennett's (AKA the Cheerleader) room mate at college has plotted her own career trajectory and placed this on a board above her bed. I paid little attention to it at the time, things may not have been great at work but I was coping and getting on with it.

Several months later, I realised the significance of that TV moment and went back to watch that segment of the show again.

The topic came up again, in a one to one with my manager, just over eight years later. As you have guessed I tend to have several blog posts drafted and abandoned from years ago and I always like to go back and think if perhaps this is the right time to revisit past topics. All our career choices are leaps of faith. Beit, decisions made with a great amount of thought, research and gut feeling. Sometimes things work out, other times they do not but you have to be honest with yourself and learn from the lessons of the past. In my case, you can go from regretting a decision and looking for opportunities externally. Only to find yourself a mere ten months later moving to a different team a different management and becoming the happiest I have ever been in a workplace. Is it not strange how things work out?

All our opportunities are half chance, but then so are everybody else's. Thanks to Spotify, I have been listening to Hush again by rapper and Lip Sync Battle host LL Cool J. There are some amazing lyrics in this song.

Certain doors that we go in The people we meet The hands that we shake

To complete the circle, the video features a young Dania Ramirez and she went on to star a mere year later in the Heroes franchise. (For younger readers, the "Game of Thrones" from the early 2000s.) Your career will never be a series of happy accidents, you have to plan to be successful. I totally agree with this but it is actually getting more involved outside of my day job that has seen my career accelerate. I cannot state a single event which meant everything started to head in the right direction. A previous mentor mentioned that environment is key. Does Andrew have the conditions where he can succeed? Of course, but my success is defined not by the people around me, the company overall but decisions made many many years ago.

When I was contracting at Microsoft, in my previous position, I would speak to one of my close colleagues and agree that the dream was to work in the same town I lived (Slough at the time) but the sentiment was always there. Location, location, location. When you are younger, the four-hour daily commute seems a minor inconvenience. You only appreciate the travel distance of a mere 15 miles with the maturity of how valuable time is. However, even with my current employer, I get the best of both worlds. We have a City office and I can work there whenever there is a need. In fact, the next scheduled visit is next Tuesday.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Corporate Team Building

My Dad would always say "Take part son, get involved! Never just sit on the sidelines." Sound advice, which as usual I wish I had appreciated more in my younger days. It would have led to different choices, perhaps different hobbies and a different circle of friends. Who knows?

While never a fanboy of any of my employers (past or present) I would consider myself proud to have worked for Bayer Healthcare, Intel and Microsoft. All well known household names. However when you start to work for an Enterprise Software Company that very few people out of the tech industry have heard of, you know you have work to do to explain to anybody who you work for before you even get to the point of explaining what you do for a living.

Trying my best to not do our Marketing department a disservice, the sponsorship of Trek-Segafredo professional cycling team last year stems from our Canadian CEO, Mike Gregoire being a diehard cycling fan. Apart from a generous employee discount, very little internal events or propaganda had taken place until the end of last year. Being in Operations does mean we are party to certain information early. Being on friendly terms with VP of EMEA Sales Ops and Liverpool fan does have it's advantages. We knew this was coming, because they had setup an experience for customers and partners at CA World, in Las Vegas in mid November. The reason for such early notice, we were informing the EMEA Marketing VP that we had a potential champion walking among us mere mortals. The benchmark for pressure I set against Jessica Enis-Hill, the poster girl for London 2012, holding the hopes of a united nation, going into not one but seven events over two days to win Gold and cement her place in Olympic history. While not quite the eyes of millions, but the burden of several hundred co-workers based in the UK office, Nathan got the reassuring "you got this" nod from our UKI & SA SVP Milko while we listened to Ivan Basso open up the event. Ladies and gentleman, that is pressure. Proud to say our colleague and friend did us all proud. Winning both Sprint & Champion Climb to book his place in the finals at the FY18 kick off in Barcelona.

To be frank, I am not a cyclist or a fan of pro cycling but I have the utmost respect for these athletes. These men (and women) putting everything on the line for their sport. Just watching some of the road racing in Rio over the summer proves how competitive the sport is and how it can come down to the narrowest of margins. While I reminisce of the early 1990s and riding around my estate in Wycombe proudly on my Raleigh Grifter. Let me share with you a few photographs from the Trek-Segafredo Experience day at my office including The Smiling Assassin, Ivan Basso set the bench mark for the Champion Climb and Sprint.

The Champion ClimbJersey

Monday, September 19, 2016

Some Days

I just go into work and everything comes together seamlessly.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

By-Passing The Corporate Firewall

For almost two of the past three years, the Savage Chickens website was blocked by my corporate firewall. Categorised under "Adult Humour", even the embedded images in the e-mail I receive each working week day were disabled. However to by-pass this, you would just go and view the latest cartoon over on Tumblr. Doug Savage will be pleased to discover that changes to the corporate infrastructure now means I am able to visit his blog without issue and receive his e-mails with bright yellow Post-It Note image.

The cartoon are always brilliant but the work based ones in particular I can fully relate to. Sometimes I could just post Doug's images, as they reflect moments at my workplace (or work history).

This blog post is dedicated to Canadian and all round good guy Doug Savage. His daily cartoons get me though the working week. Sometimes I do not get the humour, perhaps lost in translation from North America over the Pond to the UK but his book is still one of my favourite items. I keep it at work, as a daily reminder not to take work too seriously, even if it does take up a big chunk of our waking hours.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Direct From The Top

There is a prize I have been lucky enough to gain at my previous two employers and hope to continue to repeat for the rest of my career. Rather superficial I agree, but the coveted e-mail from the CEO. Now I do not mean an e-mail that has been drafted by an Executive Assistant or Communications department but one typed by the fair hand of the man or woman at the top of the organisation. In both cases, they were received after I had left the employment of the company, so some of you out there may take dispute with my claims but I care little. I can only make these revelations now as both men have long since retired from their positions as the head of two multinational blue chip companies.

Of course, the CEO of any company would not be e-mailing me or even an ex-colleague directly. They would be following the chain of command. In the case of Microsoft, this was from CEO (Steve) to CFO (Kevin) and then down to Global Commission Director before moving across to the EMEA Director and getting to my boss (Operations Director) into my mailbox with some kind of urgent action attached.

When you work for the biggest microchip manufacturer on the planet with over eighty percent market share you are going to get law suits and you are going to get complaints. People will just complain directly to the CEO when their brand new gaming work station is failing due to the motherboard and processor. The man at the top believes it could potentially be a scam but passes the mail down to his directs, once it gets to the Global Support Manager it then quickly gets forwarded to the Support Centre Manager. A ticket is raised and followed up with the highest priority possible.

Customer Complaint

With websites such as CEO Mail it has never been easier to get your message to the man or woman at the top of an organisation. Plus with the advent of social media, people tend to vent on Twitter, hoping somebody somewhere will resolve their problem. This works sometimes but not always.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Business Doublespeak

Are there any jobs that do not involve business jargon? The marketing people would make you believe these buzz words have some special innate power to motivate employees beyond their standard capability. Moving working area for the fifth time, we headed to the front of the building, which gives a view of the car park and the M4 motorway in the distance. Making use of the whiteboards that had followed us to our new working homes, the decision was made by somebody to capture all the business jargon than is bounded about on a daily basis.


I suppose in the medical profession you have your own language and lawyers have their own language but perhaps only fair that corporate world create something of their own language. However, we just sell software, it is hardly Rocket Science.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Secret Santa Update

With so much going on outside work, this was perhaps the only Christmas gift I was going to purchase this year. (Putting to one side my donation to The Angel Tree.) I should really start by updating my list from my previous post. Last year my gift was a scarf, purchased at the last minute due to a abrupt change in the date of the Santa Exchange. I have no idea where that scarf is now, probably in a drawer somewhere in my bedroom. This year I probably received the worst Secret Santa gift ever.

I have drunk two "plastic" cups of coffee in my life. In the late 1980s in my youth, I was playing around with a vending machine at my parents work place in Marlow, during a family day and decided to try coffee for the first and only time. Fast forward almost 30 years and by mistake I entered the wrong code in a vending machine at my place of work. Most people would have just thrown the cup away and got the tea they were craving for, but not wanting to waste the beverage, I begrudgingly drank the coffee. Never again.

As I was growing up, the coffee drinkers were my Dad, and my sister Samantha. Everybody else is a tea drinker. My wife Michelle is a coffee drinker. Although she tends to restrict herself to coffee purely in the morning, as a "wake up juice".

So you can imagine my horror to be given this package when opening my Secret Santa gift in front of colleagues (including working from home S, whom was on webcam via Skype for Business on a Microsoft Surface Pro).

Strong Coffee

What further condemns this initial offence, is that our colleague J had thought up the initiative of listing our wishes onto a whiteboard to give the everybody the inspiration they needed.

Secret Santa Wish List 2015