Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Well, the job is going well. Amongst other things, I now manage a team in India, where the amount we pay them is so much less than what we'd pay people in the UK to do the same thing that I wonder why more people don't do the same.
Then I realise that quantity over quality isn't quite what you'd look for in a strong team, and don't get me wrong, they are not a bad team, they just aren't completely good...
My team love their processes and hate deviating from them. Whenever they fall behind in a project, they show an amazing work ethic to work long hours, weekends and holidays to catch up, but don't realise that if they had done things right the first time around, this extra work wouldn't have been necessary.
Plus, don't get me started about national holidays in India. They've had 4 already this year. I'm not sure how they compete against their neighbours like China if they spend so many days a year simply not working!
Anyway, regardless, I've managed to launch an iPhone app for my company which was really exciting along with countless other projects. The role is so varied that the days just fly by. I get a real buzz out of it.
What else, can I say....Hmmmmm...One small piece of news I guess. We're having a baby.......
WE'RE HAVING A BABY
WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!
OMG! We're living in a one bedroom flat that I can't sell and we can barely fit our own things in and now we're having a baby....a baby!......A BABY!
Yes, it was planned and yes we are very excited and petrified at the same time. The due date is in early June so we have a bit of time to sort ourselves out. A lot of my stuff will go into storage to make room for the cot etc and I hope that post-birth, we can then find somewhere bigger and affordable to move to.
Hmmm, it's going to be quite a year!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Well after eight months of living in an unemployed “wilderness”, I finally got a role that over the past three months I have found to be the most challenging, yet varied and interesting role I’ve had since my very first job out of university.
I’ve passed my probation period, the last two weeks of which I managed without any direct support from my boss as he took the opportunity to take a well deserved break and I’m rather enjoying things so far.
I now work for yet another property company, but this one is international and is growing as the recession recedes and the work is definitely interesting.
Over the last few months I’ve been very much involved in the re-launch of our new websites, learnt about CRM systems, property portals, designed an iPhone Application and now, day-to-day, project manage an offshore development team based in India.
It’s not easy, and the hours are longer than anything I’ve ever done before but the people I work with are a great team and I find the whole thing gives me a real “buzz”, probably something I feel more and appreciate more now that I’ve been in limbo for so long.
I do really hope that it lasts as I can see myself really growing in this role, where unfortunately my last short-lived position really pales in comparison.
But then you live and learn with each set back and now it’s time to get moving again.
I work near Monument, in the City now, and I just love going for walks along the river at lunchtime, when I get a chance that is. The hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets and some rather self-centred people does get annoying but then I’ll walk out after work, in the rain, after the sun has set and the reflections of the city lights onto the roads and buildings is a photographer’s paradise!
Anyway, back to work now (just a little bit on the weekend) and on with a new, brighter future.
(Oh, and I passed my driving test too…)
Monday, June 15, 2009
In fact it has become my almost full time job. Unfortunately I only get paid just over £60 a week to do it which means life continues to stay on hold in some ways (new house etc) but obviously carries on in other good ways (happy marriage etc.)
Extra non-essential outgoings have been seriously curtailed (even Sky Sports is now gone, SHOCK!) but I can't avoid things like utility bills unfortunately so they'll continue to trickle away my savings. But hey, at least I have savings!
So, things are not lost but just waiting to be found...
Monday, March 02, 2009
I'm now going through the longest period of unemployment in my life. I've had no joy with job agencies, sending CVs off to as many places as I can or on some weeks even finding jobs to apply for.
I've even bitten the bullet and signed up for Jobseekers Allowance. It's better than zero income but I have to prove that I am applying for 3 jobs a week which can be hard when some weeks I'm lucky if I can find one appropriate job.
I absolutely love IT and technology, have management experience but evidently never enough for any of the jobs out there. It's as if my career has gone in the wrong direction and seriously needs a reboot.
Giving up programming years ago was a big mistake and whilst I am keeping myself up-to-date with various languages and technologies, it's not worth a lot to me so long as nobody is interested in hiring me and gives me a chance to apply my knowledge.
Head's up, stiff upper-lip and all that but it's still hard to not feel down about the way things in the last 12 months have gone.
A year ago, I had a good well-paid job, was getting married and looking forward to moving to a new house with my future wife.
On the down side:
- I have spent more than 6 months out of the last 12 unemployed and cannot afford to move.
- The longer I'm unemployed, the harder it may well start to get to explain to potential employers what I have been doing with my life.
- My savings are dwindling away. This is money that was for our future and is now being used up by me in the present instead.
On the up side:
- I have a lovely wife who has helped tremendously to keep my spirits up as much as possible. Marrying her was by far the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life.
- I have no mortgage. Thankfully we didn't move last year, otherwise we would have been struggling financially big time to meet payments.
- I've had time to spend some of my money in driving lessons and have now passed my theory test. It's an investment as some jobs benefit from being able to drive from place-to-place.
- I have had time to read up on programming (C# and ASP.NET), project management (PRINCE2) and general management techniques. More so than when I was employed and in the thick of things.
My typical day consists of job hunting in the morning with a break for lunch and a load of reading or programming in the afternoon.
I know I have to be positive but at the moment I just want a salary so that I can un-pause my life and get on with doing things...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Now, I've been there so many times, mainly because it's the only thing open after eight PM anywhere near me, that the initial excitement over having a mammoth shopping centre almost on my doorstep has now long gone.
When I was little I learned to ride a bicycle on a massive hill in the local park by me in Ealing. Years later I returned and was rather dismayed to discover that the mountain on which I had so many fun times was in fact barely even a gentle slope.
Going to Westfield, now feels like that. It's big, granted, but nowhere near as big as it seemed when it had yet to be explored.
It's still darn handy though but why, oh why are there no specialist electronic or photography stores? If you want fashion then Westfield offers a big range (though not a full range - you still need to go to the dept stores on Oxford Street for that) but if you want gadgets, TVs, cameras, a Currys or anything like that, then forget it.
Annoyingly W H Smith, which I love as an avid reader of many magazines, is diametrically opposite to the entrance through which I normally enter the centre. M & S is also a fair way in on the opposite side so it's still more convenient to go to Ealing for that staple of my diet.
Initially a lot of shops were also not open and to be honest quite a few still aren't. In particular, the restaurants outside the centre look woefully shuttered up waiting for their occupants to move in eventually.
On a more positive note, the lack of seats that I, and I know a lot of other people complained about, is less of an issue as stylish bum rests have popped up all over the place now. So my memories of knackered feet on the first few visits and having to sit on the ground should now be banished.
Oh, and wandering around Westfield at an hour before closing time is actually quite a pleasant experience compared to those initial opening days and every weekend when the place absolutely crams out and you can't walk in a straight line for more that 3 meters.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Things have been going well at work. Though initially tough, I was actually starting to enjoy my new role. One of my projects made it's first deliverables deadline last Monday and everyone was very happy. I'd done a lot of work to push things through with my team and it had been and excellent job all round by everyone.
My other project was delivering to schedule too. The development team had won a company award for achievement and we all went out for a nice meal to celebrate on Thursday night. It was nice to sit down, relax and socialise with those I'd seen sweating blood and tears to get things done and find out a lot more about the people behind the hard work.
Back in the office, I was just putting the final touches to my future planning when a bombshell struck.
My company was going through its annual appraisals process. I'd only been there coming up to six months but had still been set a number of goals some of which I'd met, some of which were no longer relevant and some of which I had room for improvement on.
I'd put in a few hours writing up notes preparing for the meeting and was rather dismayed to find my manager moving it back a week to the morning of the Thursday that we were all going out and then to the evening of the Thursday that we were all going out and then to the Friday morning after (deadline day for the whole feedback process.)
Perhaps what I'd thought would be a serious evaluation would just be a quick "let's just get this over with" job.
Nevertheless, what happened at 9am on Friday morning still came as a shock.
"I'm afraid it's bad news" my manager told me as soon as we started.
Alarm bells started ringing. Flashbacks to earlier in the year and nine years previous burst into my head.
"We don't think that you're the type of person we were looking for when we employed you here," he carried on, "This explains everything that'll happen now," he said as he handed me a sealed envelope and tried to end the conversation then and there.
"What went wrong?" I asked bemused, stunned and shocked. "My projects are running fine and delivering on time....What has happened to bring this about?"
"I can't go into detail. I just don't think it's working out," is all he would say.
"Can you give me any examples of where you think things haven't gone right? Why have I never received any negative feedback to indicate that this was going to happen. Isn't this the whole point of the appraisal process?" were just a few questions I asked.
He couldn't or wouldn't answer any of them.
I pushed a bit further and he finally said "I can contact you to meet up and give you feedback next week outside of work," and I had to be content with that.
So the HR person came down, I packed up my stuff and walked out. A girl in my team had tears in her eyes when she found out, everyone else thought that I was joking until they saw the serious look on my face.
And that was that. I am unemployed once more.
I walked past the Evening Standard vendor's stand down the road with the previous day's headline still "UNEMPLOYMENT IN LONDON REACHES RECORD HIGHS" and I realised that I was now just another statistic.
When I got home, deflated, I realised that I'd left my suit jacket in the office on the coat rack and a pair of trousers in the local dry cleaners to boot. *sigh*
Livf goes on I guess, and whilst positive things are also happening (happily married, starting to learn to drive), this sure as hell isn't plain sailing for me at the moment.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I didn't get a huge amount of sleep the night before but the adrenaline kicked in for the whole day and kept me going. The suits had been delivered to the hotel two days before, we had picked up the cake the day before and taken it to the hotel (and realised that the colours being used for the flower arrangements on the tables were wrong, which were duly changed, no questions asked, which we were very impressed with) and so it was just a case of getting myself to the hotel to get changed and then into the cabs that the hotel had booked to get me to the church on time.
But that almost didn't happen. Someone decided to end it all under a train at Chancery Lane and after sitting on a train outside White City for thirty minutes, I started to get a bit worried. So I wasn't taking any chances when the train pulled into White City and I rushed off the train, up the stairs and out to the local mini cab office before anyone else had the chance to queue up in front of me.
Twenty minutes later I was at the hotel, a bit more flustered than I would have liked and glad that I'd taken some money on my journey. Oh, but not before a minor make sure I didn't bump into the other half incident (she'd just arrived back from getting her hair done moments before I got there) which my best men managed to resolve.
The fun didn't stop there unfortunately. The suit fit well but the trousers were about 4 inches too large around the waist! *sigh* I had to fasten my belt around my waist (with no loops) just to keep my trousers up! It worked amazingly well so long as I walked around carefully.
But then that was the worst of it. The ceremony went perfectly. I and the best men got to the church on time. I greeted friends and family, some of whom I had not seen for a long time and before I knew it I was being told to go to the front as Lorraine had arrived.
I stood nervously and snuck a quick look back. I could only see her silhouette against the brightness of the open church doors, but that silhouette looked stunning. And then the bridal march kicked in and goosebumps duly followed.
When she arrived by my side and her dad passed her hand over to mine, I looked across at her and she just looked so beautiful. Thinking back to that moment I don't think I stopped smiling for the rest of the the day.
She had a stunning dress (which the priest even commented on) with quite a train and so we walked carefully up the steps to the altar for the main service to begin.
And everything went perfectly. Well, okay, I got a bit nervous during the vows and had to repeat slowly after the priest but that didn't matter. It all felt so right and we couldn't stop smiling at each other.
Afterwards we walked down the aisle to the the chimes of Handel and we were now man and wife! We waited at the doors and talked to people as they headed out to the double-decker Routemaster bus we'd ordered to take everyone to the hotel. The happiness in my heart was just unlike anything I'd ever felt before.
We took a Bentley back to the hotel and sat in the gardens awaiting our guests. It was nice to have a few quiet moments together. As it turned out, the bus driver had taken a scenic route back to the hotel, so we were back twenty minutes before our guests arrived.
Champagne and canapes followed along with lots of official photos in the gardens. It was a dodgy day weather forecast-wise but, somehow, we had been very lucky. The sun even peeped out a while for us. Later on when we had gone in for the reception dinner, it absolutely chucked it down outside!
The dinner went well. I could see my best man getting nervous about his speech. He'd told me that it was only three minutes long just a few days before and I'd had to tell him that ideally it should be a little bit longer. Just my list of thank yous would take longer than that.
Anyway, the father of the bride came out with a stormer of a speech. Some good jokes and a finish that would make it a hard act for me to follow. I'd never actually written my speech down and has only worked on it in my head. My speech did work out okay apart from one rather embarrassing hiccup.
I'd thanked the father-of-the-bride, asked us all to remember departed family members, thanked everyone who'd come and even thanked the hotel staff for doing an excellent job.
I then sat down and my best man stood up to deliver his speech. At which point a niggling voice in the back of my head started bothering me...
I'd forgotten to thank my lovely bride! ARGH!
With my best man a few words into his speech I had to stand up, apologise, ask him to sit down and then deliver a heartfelt speech to my lovely bride.
Luckily it worked on so many levels. I spoke from my heart and Lorraine almost started crying with joy along with a number of other guests.
Afterwards, talking to my best man, it turns out that having made him sit down and start to deliver his speech a second time had actually made him a lot less nervous. And he didn't let me down. His speech was excellent and my "accident" gave us all something to laugh about later.
The food was good, the service excellent, we cut the cake which tasted delicious and then had a first dance as a married couple to Andy Williams - "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."
We'd only practised dancing together twice in the week before the wedding as we'd only selected the song two weeks previously and it was a miracle that I didn't step on Lorraine's dress or shoes and that we even managed a few twirls but boy did it feel like a long four minutes with everyone staring at us! And yes, my trousers did stay up!
And then we had a lovely retro disco and everyone seemed to have a great time.
As we sat in our candlelit, rose petal strewn suite afterwards looking through all the cards, we thought about how amazing it was that we all the hassles we'd had with the dress, the flowers, the orders of service (which I ended up getting at half price due to the numbers of reprinting errors) everything had turned into one perfect day.
The happiest day of our lives...
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Everything has come together nicely. Everything has been booked and confirmed, we've chosen our first dance song (though not really practiced dancing much, so that should be interesting), finalised seating plans for the reception and are now all set for our final rehearsal at the church on Wednesday.
So all-in-all a big success bar one hiccup...
We ordered a custom made topper (bride and groom figures for the cake) a few months ago from a woman on eBay (who had very good reviews) only to be badly let down with a complete non-delivery. She doesn't reply to e-mails or phone calls and both eBay and PayPal have said that it's too long since the order was placed to be covered by any of their protection processes.
Bit rubbish really. So we've had to order generic toppers (as the top of our cake will look a bit sparse otherwise) and I've managed to find someone who does bald groom toppers so hopefully we'll get them before the end of the week.
But it's not a showstopper (or should that be no shows-topper) and now with things being really hectic at work (I've worked the weekend to fit everything in) this week up until Friday (when I am off) should go pretty quickly.
Hmmm, just remembered, must pack for the honeymoon too.
*sigh* I knew I forgot something!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
what will it be like?
will it be all happiness and butterflies
or challenges faced together?
will things change
will we change?
two as one...
the end of something
or a new beginning?
Or all of these?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
She'd received a phone call from the dress shop.
The dress has arrived! Hoorah!
She's off to the shop on Saturday to get her first fitting (with just a fortnight to go...)
Fingers crossed all goes well :)
Monday, July 28, 2008
We've sorted out a lot of things: invited people, wished that we could afford to invite more but we had to draw the line somewhere. We're sorting out the order of service now, meeting up with the priest of the church where we are to be married this week to sort out a rehearsal, cross the t's and dot the i's.
Only a few blips at the moment.
1) We ordered a topper for the cake from someone on E-Bay who isn't replying to any of our e-mails. They appear to have lots of satisfied customers regularly but we're certainly not one of them at the moment.
2) The florist at the church is an elderly lady who has been doing the flowers for the church for thirty years. She's not very flexible especially when we found out that we have to settle with the flowers of the couple who are getting married two hours before us. The other half was not pleased and reverted to true Essex-speak to express her feelings about the issue to me.
3) The dress hasn't arrived yet. So a rather HUGE show stopper really and unsurprisingly the biggest worry so far. We've been told that it's due this Thursday and that the tailor who makes adjustments for the shop is a real wizard with a needle, so everything will be sorted in plenty of time. We went to the shop the other week and heard this huge earthquake of a sound shaking the building.
"What's that?" we asked. "Oh, it's the tailor upstairs with his new sewing machine."
The tremors has already made a crack in the ceiling! I stood there secretly hoping to myself that if it did collapse it, it'd only be after our dress has been dealt with.
But until the other half sees the dress with her own eyes, she has yet to be convinced. I'm trying my best to support her but this will be something that even I won't be able to do anything about if it goes pear-shaped.
In the meantime, when work isn't taking my mind off things (which it does A LOT), we've gone to see Fatboy Slim at Hyde Park (music good but pill popping, coke snorting crowd not-so-good), Neil Diamond at the O2 (great music, vertigo-inducing seat) and I've taken in a bit of culture at the opening of the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum (excellent, especially as we'd been to his Tivoli villa and stayed by the Pantheon when we were in Rome last year, though not anywhere near as busy as the Terracotta warriors exhibition was.)
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Well, we have to make the most of our Sundays since so many of them aren't sunny. Even in Summer.
We sit on the grass or a bench eating our M&S sandwiches, sharing our diet coke and crisps, just happy to be together.
The last time we were there, a photographer came along with a newly wed Asian bride and groom. We watched as he got them to pose by the water and took portraits shots of them.
We thought, that'll be us (in a similar situation) in just a few weeks!
And we were happy....
Monday, June 16, 2008
As a new challenge, it's a job with more authority and responsibility, something that I have no problems dealing with, and I now realise with hindsight that career progression-wise, things had pretty much plateaued at my last job and were even going downhill in some respects. I wish it had been different as I did very much like it there. I'll certainly miss the people for sure.
I'm guess that I'm glad it happened whilst I'm still young and able to adapt rather than years down the line things might have made it very hard for me to move elsewhere.
And yes, two months is more than enough time between jobs.
Okay, so I think that in all that time that I probably had less than a week of actual relaxation (mainly spent playing Grand Theft Auto IV), the rest spent looking for jobs, sorting out the wedding and then when I did get a job, reading up on it to make sure that I got off to a running start. House hunting had to be put on hold but we hope to get that up-and-running soon again.
So I didn't feel all that rusty when I did start and the main challenge that I'm facing at the moment is learning the business. It's a company that does a lot of work for the education sector and the number of initial and acronymns used for everything is just silly!
Anyhow, as I've said, so far so good...but I'll carry on crossing my fingers for a bit more, just in case.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Someone has employed me!
It was very much like buses. I waited ages (an under-statement if there ever was one) in-between interviews and then three positions came up at once. Three different sized companies and three different roles. I basically had my pick.
Two didn't pan out as what I was looking for or progressed too slowly but the third did.
So, starting June 4th and for the foreseeable future I'll be commuting off to the South side of the river to "lovely" Clapham (or Cl'am to the locals.)