Campaign Monitor – 8 Weeks In

I can’t quite decide whether to say “I cannot believe it’s only been 8 weeks” or “I cannot believe it’s been 8 weeks already”. Both interpretations have merit.

The change was unbelievably effortless. One week in I felt at home, two weeks in I felt like I could do something to add value, and three weeks in I was throwing all my crazy first ideas into the ring without regard for what people might think. It is liberating in the most wonderful way.

Despite diving in the deep end of the Web Technology pool, learning all the required AngularJS, ASP.NET, and how-to-order-my-coffee-online has felt somewhat effortless as well. I should have gone head-first into Web 2.0 long ago; the first four weeks at CM got me further along than two years of miscellaneous dabbling in my own time.

And the first four weeks flew by; I was holding off for the longest time fearful of the draining commute to Sutherland, but I think I probably should have made the call sooner. Alas, that is the nature of Unknown Quantities; even things that look great on paper are a little scary when they require getting out of one’s comfort zone. Had I known how much I was going to enjoy the work itself (to the point of dabbling and studying quite significantly in my own time as well), I would have given it a second thought.

And then, we moved to the CBD and things got better still.

2015-04-09 - In The Clouds

Cozy offices turned into a spectacular office. It is easy to get a bit blase about the view 38 floors above Sydney. The first week I’d take a few minutes to admire the view before starting work, but now that tends to come later in the day. At some point my mind will briefly not be stuck with a problem and I’ll catch the view, and then it catches me.

The view over Hyde Park and the Harbour are strangely disorienting. The perspective does strange things to my sense of distance. I could swear Darlinghurst is but a brief stroll away from Hyde Park by the look of it from up here. And everything looks like a game of The Sims. It feels like I somehow should be able to control the weather. Maybe there’s a switch I haven’t found yet. I should ask the OPS team.

The days go by in a pleasant productive rush. After some experimenting, I’m finding an early commute in and out most comfortable. I get up at 6:50am, have a quick shower, get dressed, 7:05am when I feed the cats, 7:15am I am stepping onto a train to work at the station.

That may sound like a rush, but I genuinely have little to do before heading out. Breakfast and lunch are both catered, so I have really nothing to prepare for.

I walk into the office at about 8:15am, boot up the laptop and have a quick look around the HipChat rooms for anything interesting, and go through any overnight emails. By about 8:20am the internal coffee ordering system comes on, and I punch in my large cappuccino.

Breakfast is 8:30am, featuring bacon and eggs, and whatever else our amazing chefs throw into the mix. This week I have been unable to resist the pancakes with poached plums. Between 8:40am – 9:10am I get back to whatever problem I left behind the previous evening.

Why 9:10? … well… that’s when we have our daily 10 minute stand-up with the team. A quick run around of what we did the previous day and what we will work on today. A chance to keep the team in the loop and to ask for help or clarifications where needed with broad input.

Then 9:20 through 12:30 rushes by faster than I can believe. A mix of learning and programming, leaning more and more towards the latter.

It is easy to tell when 12:30 comes around because by 12:35 the floor is almost empty. Many rush to try and beat the lunch queue.

Catered lunch is amazing. More amazing than I could have realised. It obviously saves some money (more or less depending on a propensity to buy lunches otherwise). But more than that, my lunch has never before been this varied. I’m probably eating healthier even if it is a tad more than I perhaps should… more gym for me.

And that is not uncommon either; there are various groups of employees that go running together or see a trainer before lunch, etc. On the flip-side, there is a page on the Wiki that chronicles the weight-gain that people experienced upon first starting at Campaign Monitor. The chefs are hard to resist.

Then, after lunch, more programming till about 16:45 which is my cut-off to make it on the last not-completely-packed train back home. Soon I will start experimenting with taking a gym class in the city before going home so that hopefully I can catch a train after the peak eases off again on those days. Luckily there is a lot of flexibility in the hours, as long as I make the 8-a-day excluding lunch, and I am available for all the important meetings.

Somewhere around 14:00 there is another round of coffee orders, and most days there is some kind of pastry or dessert on offer as well. Today was an apple crumble that did full honour to its name; I forgot my cutlery and it resisted my attempts to eat it most valiantly.

2015-04-09 - Hyde Park Below

Four more weeks and I’ll hit my 3-month review point.
But I am sure the 6-month mark will arrive in just another blink or two as well.

Everything about what the job demands and gives back just fits together perfectly to keep me energized and motivated, and feeling on top of the world in all the senses possible.

Starting at Campaign Monitor

Commute

I made the right call when I was first offered the job late 2013; that is not to say that there is anything wrong with the job per-se, because Campaign Monitor has already proven an awesome place to work. The commute would have killed me 6 months in.

Tuesday - fresh muffins with breakfast
Tuesday – fresh muffins with breakfast

On Monday morning, I made it from home to work in 70 minutes, door to door. Not bad, but not quite the 60 minutes I thought achievable. My manager suggested I try a different route home, which due to evening traffic also came to 70 minutes, and sadly a missed Pilates class.

Then this morning, Google told me to expect 1h42m, to which I scoffed “No Way”.
Alas, “Yes Way”… multiple incidents and accidents, hints and allegations later, 90 minutes door-to-door.

I am somewhat hopeful after a 60-minute commute this afternoon that I can fine-tune this a little further for the next 4 weeks after which the office will move to a gorgeous new CBD location. I am considering waking up at the not-a-real-time of 6:30am so that I can start early, finish early, and hopefully mostly avoid the traffic both ways.

A small limited-duration sacrifice to the sleep gods may be warranted. And limiting my gym classes to Tuesday evening and the weekend for now.

Food

This job comes with breakfast and lunch included.

And not just something quickly thrown-together either. The Three Chefs start their day at 7am, first to make breakfast and coffee orders for 8:30am, then to make lunch for 12:30pm, and finally an afternoon snack and coffee at 2:30pm.

Tuesdays' menu - I can still smell the lamb ribs on my t-shirt
Tuesdays’ menu – I can still smell the lamb ribs on my t-shirt

It’s definitely better fare than I’d be able to buy myself for an average $10, and it’s not costing me anything. It’s also a great time to sit down and chat with co-workers. Sadly I am horrendous with names, and I’m sure I’ll have to be reminded for a while longer… but it’s a great way to get to know my coworkers.

There is an internal web page where the menu for the week is published, and from what I understand the chefs do not like repeating themselves, so I am looking forward to never having the same lunch again. Also, probably healthier than I’d otherwise eat (mostly).

Learning Curve

Getting started is always a bit intimidating, when you come in feeling like you know nothing. The Engineering department has a buddy system in place though, so I have someone to ask when I need to figure something out.

There have been a few false starts where I needed a hand, but otherwise, the internal Wiki is amazingly comprehensive. I have learned an awful lot already in only two days from just poking around.

DiSC - 6515 - Creative (apparently!)
DiSC – 6515 – Creative (apparently!)

Today I had my first one-on-one with my team lead. Having used Manager Tools myself, I already knew what to expect. And I had seen many staff with DiSC profiles displayed in their windows, so I asked if I should get one of those done as well.

“Oh sure, there is a Wiki page, and here are the credit card details… just make sure you send an invoice to myself and the accountant when you’ve bought something.”

*blink* … no red tape indeed!

Culture

Which brings me to CM culture.

Friendly and relaxed does not even begin to describe it. “We’re all smart adults here” might as well be the company motto. The change feels a little disorienting to me, but I’m sure I will adapt quickly enough.

Dress code is: “whatever you are comfortable in” (within reason, of course, see “smart adult” above), but there are plenty of staff in t-shirts, shorts and no-shoes.

Tomorrow's Lunch - Sous Vide chicken.
Tomorrow’s Lunch – Sous Vide chicken.

I have been invited to try ping-pong, XBox, after-work trainer sessions… So far, I have politely declined while I get my bearings a bit more and work out my commute and sleep patterns.

But I already know, I’m right at home.

My Campaign Monitor Adventure – Update

My new year started with some updates on the job front.

On Sunday I received a very friendly email from the CM OPS team. It’s time for me to pick the hardware I will need for my job.

Well… need … I should say want.

One of the coolest benefits of working here is you get to choose your own computer setup! You are free to choose anything [ed: my highlight] from Dell, Lenovo or Apple.

To give you an idea, the other members of the Development Team are using Dell and Apple laptops, mainly running Windows with some using OS X.

Also, let me know if you have any favorite keyboard or mouse brand so we can order that, too!

I’m too sensible about my needs to see how far “anything” stretches… but based on my experiences so far, I have no doubt that if I make a cogent argument for a Dell Precision M6800 with i7-4940MX, 32GB memory, Nvidia Quadro K5100M, 17″ Multi-Touch screen, 1TB RAID-0 SSD, and dual 24″ monitors, at $6,747.87 it would be there waiting for me on day 1.

Not that I’d want RAID-0 anywhere near a Dev machine, or that I’d feel comfortable with that much power overkill in a laptop. I bet the battery would be flat in the blink of an eye.

And then this afternoon, Niclas (the recruiter) gave me a quick update on the move as well. It sounds like the CBD office will be ready somewhere between mid-to-end February.

I guess that means another 2-4 weeks off if I want… oh… the horror!
I checked to see if they have room for me to commute to Sutherland for a few weeks if I go stir-crazy from my time off, and that was fine too. So I guess I’ll weigh up pros and cons to make a call by February.

All in all, they have been very flexible and accommodating with my nebulous starting date of “When You Are in the CBD“, which I appreciate greatly.

Now, back to Dell to pick a more sane set-up.

Loose Ends and Dedication

As the days rapidly count down to the end of my current job, I get a great deal of pleasure out of finishing the trailing end of tasks; some that are just timely, others that have floated around for far too long.

Today I did a bunch of updates to Staff Performance Review documents, as my last chance to leave some impressions about staff.

Some colleagues have expressed surprise over this.
It’s a dreary job, and they imagined it would be the first task I’d leave hanging.

When I resigned 5.65 weeks ago, apparently what some were expecting is that I’d immediately stop caring about doing my job. Maybe that’s a common experience under the circumstances, as my managers’ surprise would suggest when I failed to check out when I got back to work. But I just don’t understand why that would be so.

They are paying me.
To do a job.
Till the 19th of December.
So, till then, I do the job I get paid for(!?)

And it feels great as the list of things left to do dwindles. At this rate, Thursday and Friday may well prove a spare buffer against any not-quite-complete tasks. As I have joked with some; I have found the secret to shrinking a to-do list… resign!

Being the well-prepared little worker-bee that I am, I have already set up the now traditional “blamejerry@gmail.com” email address. When Jeff, who started with NEMMCO at about the same time I did, left earlier in the year he started a tradition: leaving the company behind with a “blame” address to send everything that goes wrong to till the next departure. I have no idea how much traffic an address like that might garner, but I’m about to find out.

Time for a Job Change

So far, I have failed to talk about a very important change in my life.

After 11.32 years working in the Energy sector; at NEMMCO which later turned into AEMO (which you may occasionally spot in news articles if you are looking for it), it is time for me to go for a change.

It’s always harder to leave colleagues than companies.
Even when the benefits are generous, and a 5-minute commute is hard to beat.

I’m hoping to make my ex-colleagues envious next year with updates about my start at Campaign Monitor in the Sydney CBD (if I know you and you are out of an IT job… enquire within!)

Not that they aren’t already envious of the 6 weeks I will have off between finishing next Friday, and my start date somewhere around the start of February next year (I deserve a break after 11+ years). And their own explorations of the Campaign Monitor website have turned my co-workers to a series of mock exasperated exclamations regarding the benefits of my future employer.

I can’t wait to stretch my skills back into a commercial environment and see how far I can reach.