Category Archives: Work

Time Off

Gosh, it’s been a long time since I blogged here. And so much has happened since then too.

I’m on the verge of a one-month break from work. I can’t lie: I’m really looking forward to it. I won’t be going anywhere – that’s the whole point.

My life has been lived out of a suitcase for over a year now. In February 2012, I moved out of my rental apartment as the landlord had sold it. I couch-surfed for a few months (visiting Margaret River and Uluru in the interim) until leaving Australia for my secondment in New York. While I was based in New York, I didn’t actually work there, so I was travelling weekly – first to Philadelphia, then to Atlanta. And, of course, while I was in the States I did some touristy travel – to Chicago and the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. Then there was my 30th birthday holiday extravaganza in Japan via Singapore…

My U.S. secondment was meant to be for a year, but I heard news that my off-the-plan apartment was going to be completed before I was due to return – and being unable to pay for rent in New York as well as a mortgage, I came home to Australia in November 2012. But my apartment wouldn’t be ready until February 2013 – so again I couch-surfed, this time with my sister in Geelong (which, as you can imagine, meant long commutes to work in Melbourne every day).

My time in Geelong was broken up a little with a 2-week long project in Singapore and then three months in Bangalore, India where I was a trainer for ThoughtWorks University graduates. India brought its own travels – to Hampi, Bandipur and Mysore. I was also meant to take another trip to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, but I was asked to cancel my leave and go to another project in Singapore.

My mortgage and settlement were finalised while I was in India- so I had an empty apartment in Melbourne waiting for me! I asked if I could have a week in Melbourne between my projects in India and Singapore, just so I could move in and sign papers. While I was in Melbourne though, I heard that the Singapore project was canned (so I lost my holiday in Madhya Pradesh for nothing, oh well). But! Now this meant that I could now stay in my apartment in Melbourne! So for a few nice weeks, I lived in my new apartment, that had a bed and…not much else. I had sold all my furniture a year earlier, so while I was living in my new home, it wasn’t really that comfortable until I started getting a few basics: fridge, table, sofa…

Unfortunately I didn’t even have a chance to finish doing all that until my next project sent me off again – this time to Sydney. I’ve been travelling back and forth every week for a few months now. Weekends in Melbourne have been spent scrambling to buy more furniture, appliances – even basics like a toilet brush.

I’m getting to a point now that the basics for living comfortably are now in place in my apartment. I’m nowhere near done unpacking though: I still need to install bookshelves for my library, bring out my various game consoles and set up a work desk for crafting. But those things can live in my storage cage for now. The fact that I have an armchair and I can curl up with a blanket to read while eating something I cooked in my own kitchen – this has been bliss for me. And it makes it very hard to pull myself away to catch another flight to Sydney.

I’m typing this at the airport while waiting for my penultimate flight to Sydney. From the end of next week, I’ll be taking a month off work. I won’t be travelling anywhere. I want to stay at home and just enjoy it. I love travelling but the last 18-odd months have really ground me down – especially the time in India, where my health took a dive and hasn’t fully recovered since. I think it’s the living-out-of-a-suitcase aspect that caused that.

That, and not really having a place to call my home. Filled with my things. I sold a lot of my belongings when I moved out of my rental – and placed the rest in long-term storage. I took a lot with me to the U.S. – then back home again. And, since I never really got the hang of packing lightly, I took a lot with me to India too. Carrying the things that were important to me around the world doesn’t make life easier. I know I should pack lighter, but when there’s nowhere to keep the leftovers – what choice do I have?

I do have a home now. All my things are safely in my new apartment in the middle of Melbourne. From a packing point-of-view, it’s helped a lot; I never have more than carry-on luggage for Sydney. It’s also just a nice, settled feeling: this is my home.

So I’m going to be spending my month off enjoying my new home. Repainting it. Adding bookshelves. Making it truly my own. I’ll also spend time getting healthier – getting more sleep and enjoying the apartment’s pool facilities. I want to spend time reading, coding, writing, studying…It’s so hard to do any of these things when you get home from work and just fall straight into bed from exhaustion.

I haven’t lost the travel bug completely, mind you. I’m planning to spend the New Year break in Tokyo, and an opportunity just came up to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway next year. But for the rest of this year, I’d really just like to stay in Melbourne. This city has changed so much while I’ve been gone. I want to reacquaint myself with my hometown.

ThoughtWorks Australia is an Employer of Choice for Women

ThoughtWorks Australia is an Employer of Choice for WomenOn the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, ThoughtWorks Australia was named as one of just 98 organisations that are Employers of Choice for Women.

This list was compiled by EOWA – the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, which is an Australian Government statutory authority.

This is a great (and I might say, well-deserved) honour for ThoughtWorks but it also seems a little depressing that in all of Australia, just 98 organisations met the requirements to be considered for this recognition.

The full 2011 EOWA Employer of Choice for Women list can be read here.

Why did ThoughtWorks deserve this? Well, the official criteria can be seen on the EOWA website, but from my personal point of view, I feel like that “fairness” or “equal opportunity” aspect to women in the workforce is a no-brainer at ThoughtWorks. Of course people are remunerated and hired based on their skills, not their gender. Of course they should be free from harrassment. Of course, where possible, flexible working options should be available. And so on. But that’s not the most awesome part, because that should be the case everywhere anyway.

In my opinion, what makes ThoughtWorks stand out and deserving of this recognition is that – in an industry which was was never famous for its high female participation rates – Thoughtworks has genuinely and proactively tried to get more women involved in IT. We’re official and unofficial supporters of programs like Girl Geeks, Go Girl Go For IT and Digital Divas. We pay higher referral bonuses when women are hired. Our women are encouraged to network together and support each other. When I joined the company, I was one of two female recruits. We were chosen out of a shortlist that was 75% female.

IT/ICT is everywhere in our everyday lives. The user base for all these technologies is made up by every different kind of person imaginable. So it makes sense that the people developing these technologies are representative of those that use them. Women make up 50% of the world’s population. You can do the math to figure out what proportion of this industry should also be made up of women.

ThoughtWorks have cottoned onto that. It’s not an easy task – women often don’t consider IT as a career option. That’s why we’re trying to encourage particularly younger women to think about IT at school and university. But again, this is what makes ThoughtWorks stand out. They’re trying bloody hard.

Congratulations ThoughtWorks and well done to the staff that worked towards this amazing recognition.

This is another reason why I’m proud to be a ThoughtWorker 🙂

ThoughtWorks shenanigans

Twice a year, Thoughtworks Australia holds its Team Hug event – a weekend away for all ThoughtWorkers where we can present and discuss, network and have fun. Actually, there is a lot of focus on the ‘having fun’ part…and some of us are already getting in the spirit of silliness.

We were asked yesterday to fill out a spreadsheet and nominate who we’d like to share rooms with at the Hug, which this time is being held at Ettalong Beach in New South Wales.

But if you scrolled over to the right of the spreadsheet, suddenly, it was revealed….he who is always watching…

The Google Docs Batman!

Actually, I think we should take some inspiration from this for the Team Hug party theme…

Only 4 weeks to go!

Farewell Foster’s

Unlike the post 6 months ago, this time it’s a more permanent farewell I’m bidding to Foster’s. I started my Industry-Based learning (IBL) placement there almost exactly a year ago. After the placement ended, I continued with my old team for one day a week while studying. Then, after the Deloitte vacation placement ended, I started full-time work with the Core Operations transformational project team, modelling their current processes.

But I’m starting my second IBL on Monday at Lonely Planet, so there isn’t any more time for Foster’s unfortunately.

Foster’s has such a nice and fairly relaxed atmosphere – it’s sad to go. The experience I gained there was so valuable and the friends I made are great! I’ll be keeping in touch, guys! Don’t forget me!

But for now it’s time to move on. I’m very excited about Lonely Planet next week! I only have that IBL placement and four more university subjects left before I graduate. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be in 12 months time – maybe Foster’s is still an option! But for now I’m looking to see what else I can experience.

Thanks again Foster’s – I had a a blast.

Accenture Adventure 2009

Wow, that was exhausting! I’m going to be sore for days!

Just came home from the 2009 Accenture Adventure. It’s a graduate recruitment event run by Accenture that’s very vague when you apply. It doesn’t mention much except that it’s a “high-octane” event with a spy/secret operative theme.

Once I arrived, we had more details of what would actually happen! Friday was an Amazing Race event (another one! Just like the one I did at Deloitte!) which covered the “high octane” part of the event. It’s also the reason why I’m feeling very sore now! My team came third overall but were this close to coming first overall. Go Phoenix Delta 2001!

Speaking of phoenixes – our team was one of three who had the word “phoenix” in their name! Who says that there’s only ever one phoenix at a time? 🙂 It’s because the Accenture Adventure was held at The Sebel in the Yarra Valley – which is still covered in smoke from the nearby bushfires. The fires were obviously on everyone’s minds. A lot of the event was dedicated to it – for example, the Amazing Race helped to raise funds for the Bushfire Appeal. So many were thinking about “rising from the ashes”, I’m sure. A little cliché but oh well.

The second part of the event was high adrenaline even if it wasn’t quite as “high octane”. We had three hours to prepare a business case presentation to some of the executives at the company. That was tough in a very different way from the race, but very good. I enjoyed it.

Overall, the Accenture Adventure was great, but exhausting. One really nice surprise was finding two friends there – including one of the other Google Anita Borg scholars! We ended up being roommates too so it was a great catch-up. The Sebel is gorgeous and I loved the luxury it provided. The whole weekend went by so fast though that I didn’t even think to take photos!

Now I have to start thinking seriously about graduate jobs. Already in the last six months, some kind of opportunity has arisen with Google, Deloitte and now Accenture. None of them mean that I’m guaranteed a graduate job offer but I have to think about whether I would accept myself – which one would suit me best or should I start looking at other opportunities?

Time to start looking at graduate recruitment websites.

Deloitte Summer Vacation Placement

I’m nearly at the end of my summer vacation placement at Deloitte that I was offered back in August. It’s been great! I’m in Consulting (Technology Integration), working with the E2E Solution Integration team at Telstra. Yes, I’m working on that massive Teslstra IT transformation project! It’s pretty exciting – it’s the biggest IT project happening in Australia. It’s a pity I’m only here for three odd weeks.

Deloitte likes to make the vacation placement fun as well as a great career experience. There are events like the Amazing Race (which my team won! Go the Fantastic Five!), the Christmas party (as well as all of the team parties), end of month drinks and various workshops. I love having access to the online training as well. I really should do more courses while I have the chance.

My team are a lot of fun. Quite a few of them are recent graduates, or at least recent additions to Deloitte but they’ve already developed a fairly close-knit culture. My boss, mentor and buddy are all brilliant to talk to.

It’s been a tough time to do the placement, what with end-of-year stresses, exams and results. But I am still really glad I had the chance to do this placement. Deloitte has been great! I wish it could have been an eight week placement instead!

More good news…

Wow, good news seems to come in pairs! Earlier this week I found out about being a Finalist in Google’s Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship and now I’ve received another exciting phone call – this time offering me a summer vacation position at Deloitte!

I’ll be an analyst in the Consulting division for four weeks in November/December. This is great! All of the people I met so far at Deloitte have been very friendly and very funny. It’ll be great to get to learn more about the company before I start applying for graduate positions next year.

There’s mean to be an “Under Offer” celebratory dinner in September but I just realised that I’ll be in Sydney for the Anita Borg retreat! Oh well. Plenty of time to meet more people at the end of the year!