Category: Weeknotes

Week 45 – 14/07/19

Another week of being kind of jobless. I applied for a few things cold via Linked In and other recruitment websites. I also spoke with a few recruiters. Need to build momentum.

One of the places I would really like to work is in government. I went to a DfE recruitment event in Manchester. A great presentation from Jack Collier the design director to shwo the size of their challenge and to outline how they are building a new service organisation from almosts scratch. There were multiple other sessions. I went to one with Jordan Russell on how the trainee teacher placements are dealt with. Interesting insight into how the product teams are structured today (mainly contractors). I was interested in how people get into the Civil Service as I had actually applied for a role with the MoJ in Sheffield a few weeks earlier (and got rejected on the same day I got made redundant!). There was a session on the recruiting process and the method they use to consider CVs and cover letters. Clear where I had failed in my application. I now know lots more about strength profiles and DDATs and what they are looking for.

On Wednesday I went to a customer event of a potential employer. I had an informal interview lined up for Thursday and while researching them I saw they were having a customer forum which is an annual event where they update their customers on new developments in their industry and with their product. It was a great way to learn about the company, their product and their people preparing me much better for the chat on Thursday.

Wednesday evening I headed to Nottingham for the Design Exchange event. Mainly to see Dean Vipond of NHS Digital. He gave a great talk on the work they have had to do on the NHS website and it was a great presentation that showed real quality, care, skill and stress involved in making something worthy of the NHS. We got the train back north together and it was good to chat about recruitment challenges, learning leadership skills and balancing it all with kids.

Thursday I went for an informal chat at potential employer. It was a good couple of hours finding out more about the company and the role. It did not feel like an interview at all. More like an advert for the company and that was enjoyable. On Friday I got an offered the role. I have three more more interviews next week but I have a decision to make next week.

On Friday morning I went to my first ever spinning class. My wife had been trying to get me to go for a while and being on gardening leave while the kids are at school gave me no more excuses. I really enjoyed it. More of my thoughts on it are on Twitter.

Watched and enjoyed Years and Years. Good semi dystopian sci-fi which laid on the Brexit and Trump parallels a little thick but was really strong telly. Recommended. Hopefully my future will not be quick as bleak or require such a revolutionary approach.

Week 44 – 07/07/2019

What a week. Tuesday I had to go into work for a consolation…I mean consultation meeting about my role being at risk. It felt like the Tuesday of the damned with others in the same position knowing their roles were not really at risk but that they were gone. Felt really weird in the office like the proverbial fart in a space suit. My focus was basically what would happen now and how there was no point being in the office and that the other person in my team was ok. Thankfully it was agreed that we could both ‘work from home’ until our official end date of the 26th of July and then we would be paid in lieu for our final months notice.

The downside of this is that it meant we had to sneak out of the office with no goodbye. A countdown to 4pm and a not so subtle clearing of our desks. You can judge a company culture by how well it treats it’s leavers and while redundancies mess that up still it leaves a mark. I was over joyed by the people that joined us in the pub at 4. I mean most came to see Faye and I had to go early to get my kids but it was still great to know the effect colleagues can have on each other. We did not get to say bye properly in the office which was sad. We will however be having leaving drinks properly on the 26th of July.

Job hunting was in full swing. A mixture of people getting in touch after tweets and linked in posts. Three people I work(ed) with helped me out massively with a CV tidy up because I hate writing about myself (he says in weeknote 45). I feel more confident in my CV now but that is still offset by my general lack of confidence in what feels like a lack of real achievement in my career.

Went to an agency party at Paper. It was just what I needed. Lots of smart digital folk, lots of great advice (and some very nice beer). Also got a heads up on a lead for another role.

I popped up to Leeds on the Friday for an interview with a recruiter about a role in Nottingham. The meeting was across the road from the North Brewing Company tap room so snuck in for a cheeky schooner. I then met with Saul Cozens of DXW who is just one of the nice guys of Sheffield. We went for lovely Japanese food at Little Tokyo and he also gave loads of great advice and contacts and reassurance that I would be snapped up quickly.

People always say that. You will be fine, you will get something quickly, people with be clamouring for someone like you etc. etc. I hope they are right but I have a few months runway and then mortgage and other outgoings get tricky to pay so it is a stressful time.

My amazingly organised wife was wanting to help keep me focused. We have whiteboard in the kitchen and we have turned it into a jobs board. A list of leads and applications and the stage they are at and what action is next. I have told her she would make a great project manager. What a romantic I am.

Week 43 – 30/06/19

I write this note from a bed in the Copthorne Hotel in Slough. Been to Legoland for the day as it is my eldest Son’s birthday on Tuesday it has been a nice end to a very shitty week.

The very shitty bit was my role being put at risk on Wednesday. The company I work for has been bought out and on the same day as the announcement where the majority of the company found out about our glorious future a dozen or so of us found ourselves invited to a different room via a very similar looking email to the rest of the company. Cue confusion and panic and a very grim taxi journey into work for me as said email arrived while I was travelling. Massive shock and not really recovered yet. Cost cutting stings. Much more to say about this but now is not the right time or the write time.

Job hunting went pretty well. Great reaction to me sharing my new on Twitter and Linked In and I was properly cheered by the lovely people who shared my news along with warm words about me. Not a complete failure it seems. If I can seal a new role in the 60 day notice period I have will be a better measure of my worth.

Watched a lot of Glastonbury. Jon Hopkins and the Chemical Brothers favourite sets so far. Goat Girl the first thing I watched which I had no idea about beforehand but was gripped by it. Great coverage from the BBC on iPlayer this year although so much I would love to do to make it better.

I have said more than enough but not much of what I would like to write.

Week 42 – 23/06/2019

We had three workshops this week to kick off new teams. Excellently organised and run by Richard. Finally got teams focused on outcomes and more singular objectives with the freedom to do more creative work under the scope of those things. Interesting to see who revels in that and drives what could be built and who wants to be told what to build and all the interactions and differences between. Also wondering how well the product owner will do in this new world i.e. me.

Started reading Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan. Only a few chapters but kicked off with a young girl who draws the images of dead people in a post apocalyptic London although I am not sure what event caused the issues.

Finished The Good Fight series 3. Great telly. Great characters. Some over the top stories. Only drama really challenging the Trump government it seems and the shorts in it are excellent.

Started moving my blog from WordPress to Jekyll hosted on Github. Got stuck quickly. Thanks to a patient testing colleague (Hello Samuel) I got a little further. Being shown the way helps me get there faster that is for certain.

Only one run, better than none. Aiming for 3 next week because my belt is getting ever tighter.

Week 41 – 16/06/19

The fall out from the big release the week before was still being felt. We had a code freeze in place at the start of the week still. Thankfully it did not last long and we got plenty of fixes out. Problems largely resolved now and we have made improvements in lots of places. Engineers have been amazing.

Some team changes got closer to being finalised. We are moving to three teams with responsibility for different areas (Customer, Commercial and Technical success to start with). Workshops with all the teams next week to get charter and backlogs and other bits sorted before getting started. Can’t wait.

Friday I went to Product People North in Leeds. Very good indeed. The topic for the day was death and there was some great service and product work on display. Burial at Sea, Inheritance Tax and just registering a death were a complex set of processes that had to be navigated at stressful times. The highlight of the day was the Co-op funeral team talking about how they built an internal system for their funeral homes. A great example of proper research, real empathy and respect bringing digital into a very traditional business.

Finished watching Chernobyl. Very good. Very bleak.

Managed a couple of runs to work. Slow and unsteady.