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Category Archives: Work

30th of July 2012 saw me start my new role as a solution architect at Sainsbury’s and I was pretty hot and sweaty as I walked through the front door at their offices in Holborn. This was mostly due to having to wear a suit and tie in the middle of the summer that had finally arrived and partly due to nerves. Yes, I was actually nervous even though I have been in the workforce now for 17 years. My main concerns were that I don’t know anybody and I don’t know anything.
My fears will no doubt prove to be unfounded as it should not take long to get to know people and part of the reason I am here is to learn new systems and processes.
The first couple of days were quite difficult as I did not have a pc or a desk so was forced to use the communal hotdesk machines. This at least allowed me to login and start using email.
Then it came to be introduced to the first few projects that I will be involved with. Small amounts of involvement to start with but this is good as I know nothing of the technical details of each of them. I am being asked to provide Solution Outline documents which are initial options and Solution Architecture documents which go into a bit more detail. I have not produced these kind of documents before but fortunately they have a well documented structure and lots of help into how to do them so this will a good learning experience for me.
In my first week, I also got to go to Aston for a “Petrol Innovation Day”. What? Well, a number of sessions from suppliers around the Sainsbury’s Petrol Filling Stations. What do I know about petrol? I just about know where it goes in the car but that about sums it up. It was surprisingly interesting though and given none of the other Solution Architects know anything about petrol either and they are all too busy on their existing projects it looks like I have been volunteered to become the resident expert. Yay.
So, after 8 days in the office, it is time for a break. Holiday time! Off for a week in the sun in Mallorca. Lovely.

Hasta tardes…

Last week saw me conclude my employment with John Lewis after a huge 11 1/2 years. I originally started working for at the start of January 2001 and shortly afterwards the UK arm of the company was bought out by John Lewis. We started working on the new John Lewis website straightaway and launched in the first week of October that year. Those were pretty exciting times and I couldn’t imagine how things would change over the following years and how much the site would grow. We had several years of 70% growth before it started to slow down and even now are still achieving around 40% YoY at times.
The first full year of trading we took about £21M of sales and last year we took a similar amount in one week near Christmas so it was a huge improvement through the years.
The last 2 years I have been involved with the biggest project ever, replatforming the website from a predominantly Microsoft based in-house written stack to a new ATG based stack using IHS, Java, Oracle, WAS, WebMethods and AbInitio. Lots of exciting new technology for me to learn and I thoroughly enjoyed it too.
However, the time finally came to leave after I had a job offer from Sainsbury’s that was too good to turn down. It’s not significantly more money but does give better opportunities to learn more new skills and improve myself as an architect and gives better career opportunities.
Everybody at John Lewis has been amazing since I handed my notice in and I have had so many nice comments from people which even made me wonder if I was doing the right thing. Nevertheless, time was up and last week I finally said goodbye to lots of excellent colleagues that I have been working with. But not before a few drinks to celebrate.
I just about managed to pace myself but it was a long evening so I was very drunk by the end and was very glad to be staying in a hotel only 5 minutes walk from the pub. I did not feel very well the next day though and in the afternoon it took ages to get round to see people and say goodbye to everyone. No tears fortunately.
Then a short weekend and straight back into the fire at Sainsbury’s on the following Monday.
But that can wait for another post.

Only 2 weeks left at JL and I am in the unusual position of working from home for the entire week. This was agreed some months ago before handing my notice in because Lesley is off on a school field trip for 4 days near Dartmouth so I need to do the school run etc. This is also part of the reason for the leaving date I am working towards of the 27th July as it would have been pretty unreasonable to expect my new employer to honour this agreement.

I have always found working from home quite difficult. When you are a developer I think it is quite easy as you can just get on with the task in hand and when I have specific tasks it is quite easy too. But most of the time lately I am talking to people, answering questions, explaining stuff etc and that is quite hard to do from home. My main aim this week is to try and do as much of a brain dump as possible of stuff that I know that I think other people may not know and also to volunteer as many people as possible to cover any gaps.

I expect to be drinking lots of tea and listening to some loud music for a change. Hopefully getting some decent work done too… rather than just writing a blog of course.
Better get on with it I suppose 🙁