It was inevitable, I suppose, that I would, one day, have to start applying my experience to the Day Job instead of just my hours. Instead of just being the go-to-guy for programming, I’d have to take over a more responsible role and help other people to learn the craft and expertise of web development.
Until last year, I’d largely sworn off leadership. Experience within a call centre when I was in my twenties, when I had to help lead a team of moaning Myrtles, showed me that I didn’t have the patience or the expertise to lead a group of people and deal with their problems alongside my own. But, at the age of 44, I finally began realising that I simply couldn’t keep up with the pace of younger, more dedicated developers. That I could achieve far more through sharing my experience, and that through years of service and experience, I finally knew how to get a team pulling together. It was time to apply myself to a more didactic role.
Experiences and exchanges with my former employer showed me that I wasn’t destined to remain there. Having had the wonderful inspiration that my former boss “didn’t think that I had leadership potential”, it was clearly time to move on. The fact that my personal drive to improve and extend the scope and range of the projects on which I worked was being blocked sealed the deal.
WordPress has been a personal focus since 2004, when I first started working with it. I started using it for professional purposes in 2008, when it began to far outstrip the initial blogging system for which it had originally been intended. After six years fighting with TYPO3, I strove to move away from that monolithic and ill-maintained system, and wanted to commit the rest of my career to the CMS which I have loved for so many years. Enter Christoph Ackermann, CEO of Bern agency cubetech, stage left.
I’ve been Production Manager at cubetech for nearly eleven months now, and it’s been incredible to find a position which fits my needs and my wishes so perfectly. As well as working with WordPress full time, on projects from blogs to large multilingual sites, I get to work for a company in which young developers and designers pull together to get some exciting and attractive websites online. The management team respect my experience hugely and give me a great deal of free rein to make the decisions and choices for the company which will help it to improve. They respect and perhaps even enjoy my direct and progressive approach to management: making changes which make perfect sense and being open to discuss more difficult decisions, to ensure the well-being of the company and of individual team members. They even have the patience to accept and understand my high levels of motivation, which so many predecessors haven’t been able to deal with or understand.
It’s not a bed of roses, though. Taking on a role to harness and corral a team to work better together, where many have little if any experience of working in an established agency, has been incredibly hard work. But thanks to the dedication of the current team and the energy and dedication which they put into their daily work, we’ve made great strides over the past year. We’re training up three apprentices, had several interns pass through the company, and have increased both the technical and project management knowledge of everyone on the team. We’ve replaced a third-party starter theme with a completely new construct of our own, which uses Zurb’s Foundation theme, Bower, Gulp and Composer. We’ve reworked our process and technology completely to make full and extensive use of the Twig templating language in all our projects.
Productivity and – more importantly – work satisfaction has increased by several orders of magnitude, and the team is working together better than it ever has before. The long hours which we’ve all put in over the past year have paid off, and the experience of the whole team means that we can look forward to becoming more and more efficient this year. We’re looking forward to welcoming new team members, and new clients, and taking on new and exciting projects over the coming months.
For me, personally, the blood, sweat and tears have paid off and I look forward to getting to work every single day. I even get out of bed earlier these days, which must be a sign that I’m loving what I do. Now, if only I could find the time to apply all I’ve learned over the past year to work on my own website…