I know it's a cliché but indeed I cannot believe 1 year has already gone by! My 'A new challenge' post was published on Monday 16th March 2009, the day I left ThoughtWorks and joined Sourcesense as the new UK managing director.

Next Monday will be the first day of my second year and as it happens such a milestone is a good point for some reflection and although not everything can go into a blog post (either because it's too long, too detailed, too hard to put down in words or simply private), I want to try and list the major good and not so good points of this ride:

Good

  • since March 16th 2009 Sourcesense UK has hired 8 great new people (and is currently looking for more on both the sales and technical side): Huw, Tom, Peter, Nigel, Gustavo, Edoardo, Vikrant + an unnamed one who is starting shortly. If you consider that I spent the first 4 months getting up to speed, looking after existing customers and slowly building a vision for the UK office, that means we hired an average of 1 person per month and because we are very picky (remember, I come from ThoughtWorks ;-)) that means interviewing something like 52 people to narrow down this 8. Although we are looking to hire more soon - in fact contact me if you are a software crafts(wo)men who love Open Source - I feel we have a great team in place now, and our customers agree!
  • One of my goals has always been to build a truly multicultural office and we are getting there as we've got: Italians, British, Brazilians, Slovaks, Indians. As you might have noticed already though we only have men, I'll expand on this in the not so good points.
  • One of those 8, Peter, was in fact our guinea pig for internships. I wrote briefly about it back in August. I say guinea pig because Peter was the first one to go through a completely new idea never tried before and not happy with that we also split his time between London and Milan. I know for a fact that next time we do offer an internship we will do much better...
  • At any given time we've had at least 2 colleagues from the other offices (Amsterdam, Milan and Rome) working for UK customers either remotely or here in London and at some point there were more than 6! On top of that we are consistently working with 3 or 4 trusted contractors who, for whatever reason, prefer this type of contract (and not for lack of trying on my part! I love permanent people so that we can invest on them for the long term)
  • [caption id="attachment_310" align="alignright" width="150" caption="London office"]UK office[/caption]
  • We moved into a new office opposite Spitalfields Market and I cannot tell you enough how much I love the location: great transports (Liverpool Street Station), easy to reach from airports and packed full of bars, pubs, restaurants, the market and shops. Oh yes, it's also in the City ;-)
  • Every Last Wednesday of the month we all meet up in office from 5.30pm and talk over pizza and beers. I go through last month results being as transparent as possible disclosing all the numbers, discussing what's coming up, new ideas, proposals and so forth and then leave the stage to whoever wants to present something they care about: technical stuff (from Scala to Lucene), customer stuff (what's going on with project X), partners stuff (we had a partner of ours delivering a private webinar on their technology just for us). Of course we then head to a pub to keep talking and socialising :-)
  • It looks like slowly but surely we are heading in the right direction since we get more and more work of the type we like and less and less of the "not that interesting but it will help pay the bills" type. This can only be a good thing!
  • We had an energising OneCompany meeting in Amsterdam back in October: everyone flew in from the various offices and we spent a day in a beach house and a day in the beautiful Amsterdam office.
[caption id="attachment_311" align="alignnone" width="128" caption="Amsterdam Office"]Amsterdam Office[/caption] [caption id="attachment_329" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="Beach House"]Beach House[/caption] [caption id="attachment_330" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Kites by the beach"]Kites by the beach[/caption]



Not so good

  • We are all men! I care about diversity and I've worked with some pretty amazing women in the past (across the board, including developers) therefore one of my goals for this year is to try and recruit some of the best female geeks in town. I'm lucky because London is a great place for this and there are plenty of opportunities like London Girl Geek Dinners and Women in Technology
  • It's always hard when new hires don't work out and usually it's whoever recruited them fault, in this case mine! With one guy, after the standard 3-month probation period, we decided to part ways because we realised we weren't a good fit: what Sourcesense UK needed at the time didn't match with where he was in his career. The thing I'm happy about is that we are still in touch (twitter, buzz, email). That's what happens when you try your best to be transparent and up front.
  • This one goes with the nature of the business but it's hard at times to make sure everyone feels part of the same entity when half the people are working on a customer site, some are working from our office and some others run around multiple customers offices. Last Wednesday, regular one-on-ones, company meetings and other activities are all geared towards overcoming this issue but I still feel like we need to do more and we will.

I'm sure the moment I publish this I'll remember another 50 or so things but I guess the fact that the ones above come to my mind immediately makes them the most important ones to me.

Looking forward to an even better second year! :-D