Nick Carroll Software Professional

Last month at ThoughtWorks

I was sifting through my blog entries during the holidays and came across my post three years ago about my first month at ThoughtWorks. After reading it I felt it needed an update, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have left the company if the list was still accurate. My last day at ThoughtWorks was 24th December 2009.

  1. Other ThoughtWorkers: I have had the chance to work with some of the most incredible software developers that I have ever met. These guys and gals really know how to thrash a keyboard around when pumping out quality code. It has to be said that working with really talented individuals makes work very enjoyable. Which goes to show that Roy’s social experiment is still going strong after all these years.

    The people at ThoughtWorks are certainly a great bunch of people. I would still rank working with many of the fine folks at ThoughtWorks as one of my best experiences. However, many of them have since moved on to greener pastures.

  2. Ruby is such a cool programming language and I am so glad that I am working at a company that has completely embraced it. Ruby has been around in the US and Europe for a while, but it is still relatively new in Australia. I am waiting impatiently for the Aussie tech industry to catch up so that I can finally work on a Ruby project.

    Meanwhile I have been ramping up on my Ruby skills, and there is no better place in Australia for learning Ruby. We have some of the best Ruby developers working in Sydney at the new ThoughtWorks Studios, and they open their doors after work each week for us to work on a Ruby project with them.

    Sadly, I never got to write a line of Ruby code that made it into production. It was only ever Java code. Also, ThoughtWorks Studios is no longer based in Sydney.

  3. Agile is certainly an interesting approach to developing software. I have already been thrown head first into a large agile software development project, and I am already hooked on the agile koolaid. Over the weekend our client deployed the first release in time for a public launch of their system. It is the first large scale project that I have worked on, and it was a success right off the bat. The release was completed on-time, on-budget, and with 5 times less defects than any of their previous projects. Being part of a team that produced a result like this certainly made my first month a memorable one.

    I am still a strong advocate for Agile software development. I was never part of a project that failed to deliver, and I am extremely proud of this success.

  4. Open Communication: I have been amazed with how open the lines of communication are within the company. In the first two weeks I had met Martin Fowler our lead scientist, coffee with Bruce the Australian MD, and beers with Roy Singham the founder of the company. They all made themselves available to talk about agile, corporate strategy, and whatever the next big thing might be. I thought it was cool to be able to hang out with these guys. There aren’t many companies out there that have corporate leaders that like to hang out with their employees and have a general interest in them.

    Communication is not as open as it used to be.

  5. Geek Night is just one of many ThoughtWorks events that helps to facilitate knowledge sharing within the company. It is an after work event where developers head back to the ThoughtWorks office for a night of geeking out in front of a computer. We learn a new programming language whilst downing copious amounts of Coke Zero and rice cracker snacks.

    Geek Night rarely happens. I tried my best to inject some life into it with the Functional Programming and Groovy user groups, but the interest just wasn’t there.

  6. Free food: I have put on a couple of kilos since I started work. It has to do with all the lunches and dinners that the company has put on. They keep a fridge stocked with beers, wine, soft drinks and fruit juice. As well as bowls of fruit and cupboards filled with biscuits, chips, and chocolates. Best of all they have a tab going for free coffee at a local cafe!

    There is still free food on Fridays. The coffee tab at the local cafe got replaced with an in-house coffee machine.

  7. Consulting Dojo: There is one catch to the free food, on Fridays lunch is provided to attract all the ThoughtWorkers to the office to listen to one of our colleagues present on a consulting related topic. The presentations have been very interesting, and there is always a good turn out. The dojo is another example of knowledge sharing within the company.

    The dojos are still around, but in a lighter form. A couple of presenters are given 5 minutes to present on a topic that ranges from cool stuff that happened on a project to how to use a Mac.

  8. Training and book budgets: Each ThoughtWorker is provided with their own personal budget for training and purchasing books. Essentially we are responsible for our own learning and personal development. So we can choose whatever course or conference we want to attend. There is just so much support for our career development.

    The training and book budgets are still around. There was a period when the training budget was reduced, but it is back to where it was. I only ever got to use my training budget in my first year, after that I found it hard to find time for training as I was always on a project and focused on delivery. However I made good use of the book budget. It is something that I will certainly miss.

  9. Brand new Dell Latitude D620: It isn’t a Mac, but I have been very impressed with this piece of hardware. I really like the widescreen display, Intel Core Duo processor, and the feel of the keyboard. It also doesn’t get that hot from extended usage. It is the first Dell I’ve used, and I’m very happy with it.

    Would you believe that the Macbook Pro is now the default laptop? It was a sad day when I had to return my new 15 inch Macbook.

  10. Mobile phone and home broadband: This is a nice perk, having your company pay for your mobile phone and home broadband bills. I can finally afford ADSL2!

    You still get a mobile phone and broadband budget. So you can sign up for an iPhone when you join.

This will be my last post on ThoughtWorks as I close this chapter of my life.