Back from the Dead

Yes, I know, this blog was dead for more than a year and there was many reasons for it which is not really important.

So what has happened since then:

  • After 2 and a bit years at Internet Solutions I have decided to move on work wise.  It was a great time at IS and I learned and experienced a lot about the Internet and ISP industry in South Africa and what it take to work with last mile infrastructure for large corporates.  Let me just say, it is a tough world out there.
  • I have joined a small team in Naspers, working on WeChat for Africa and doing great things around WeChat.   I will blog more about that on my other more technical blog — The Technical Side
  • Tomorrow (7 Sep) I am off to go visit my WeChat colleagues in China for 11 days.  Looking so forward to it.  I will try to at least post some photos of my trip and the experience.
  • Oh and I am still very single if anybody was wondering 🙂

This is it for now while I go and get my packing done. 

Update — so what has happened – changing jobs?

I have not been blogging much over the past couple of months, mainly due to being so busy and tied up in my previous job.

Yes, you heard me correct, previous job.  I have left Fundamo/VISA (well offiicially only at the end of the month, currently on leave for 2 weeks) and will be starting at Internet Solutions in a permanent role on 1 July.  Fundamo was and stil is a great company to work for and I will follow their progress as a VISA company closely and see how they adapt being part of a big American company. If I can leave one bit off advice behind then it is to sometime sit back and look at the bigger picture and to not try and jump in head first trying to satisfy the customer at the cost of your own people.

Although the new role is also in Project Management, it will be a totally new experience and challenge working in the infrastructure/connectivity field rather than pure software development.  I will be based at IS Cape Town office but will be travelling to Johannesburg on a regular basis, in fact, I will see the Jhb office even before the CT office since I will be spending my first week in Jhb. 

On a personal note, the last year was very stresfull and life/work balance was about non-existant.  I will strive to change that over the next couple of months to return to a more balanced life and spending more time with my family and friends.  I have really neglected some of my friends and that is something I want to change.

Oh and I will try to blog a little bit more, on this personal blog and also my technical one.

If You Wouldn’t Do Your Job For Free, Then Quit

Just read a Lifehacker post that got me thinking.  How many of us are in a dead end job, full of frustration and we hate it. David Fuhriman quotes something his brother-in-law received with his graduation:

  • An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two, and an hour of work before noon is worth two.
  • Always pick your kids up from school. That’s when they want to talk.
  • Never let your skill exceed your virtue.
  • Never take less than two weeks off when you have a child or for your honeymoon. Don’t let them talk you down.
  • When you mess up, admit it frankly and quickly, and move on.
  • Always do your very best in your job, but if you don’t like what you’re doing enough that you would do it for free, quit. (This seems extreme, but at the same time mentally liberating.)

Particularly the last one is eye opening. How many of us will be brave enough to quit?  Now I know that a lot of us are in these situasions because we do not have any choice.  We all have responsibilities and obligations and need a steady job so keep on going no matter what.

I ask myself the question, if my boss ask me whether I would be prepared to do what I do for free, whether I would do it?  To be honest, I think my answer would be no even if I could afford it.  When one recognises this, the next questions comes up and one ask oneself, why am I staying and doing what I do? 

Do yourself a favour and read the whole post on Lifehacker.  Love to hear your views on it.

Working with old colleagues again — Fundamo and having some fun.

Up until August 2010, Herman (above) and I worked together at IBM South Africa, in fact sitting right next to one another.  I then went my way doing some things and Herman joined Fundamo in January this year.   I then joined (in fact returned) Fundamo earlier this month and yesterday we both attended an internal function celebrating the work Fundamo did on the MTN account during the second quarter.  While having great fun, we talked about the road that led us to where we are and how things tend to go in circles since a couple of years ago we also worked together on MTN account but at that time as IBMers.

One had to dress up as one’s favourite movie star and who can guess what Herman was dressed up as?

Saying Goodbye with impromptu farewell song.

Yesterday was my last working day at Old Mutual before I am joining Fundamo / Visa next Friday, 1 July.  The team got together and gave me a farewell (pity some of the team members were off sick).  Although I was only working 5 months with the team, it was one of the most enjoyable 5 months.  The team are very professional and although there was some big debates and sometimes disagreements, it never got personal and I had a great relationship with each and everyone of them.

What a pleasant surprise was it when one of my team members brought out a guitar and sang a farewell song.  I had to video it and here is the clip.  Excuse the sound quality.

Thanks to each and everyone for the nice words.  I will surely miss the team and I just want to wish you all the best with the launch over the next month or so.  Will keep in touch and you better invite me to the launch party.

Moving to Fundamo (Visa) – exiting times ahead.

A while ago I blocked about working for a specific company and that reality has come true.  At that point it was just Fundamo (a fairly small South African company) that operates in the mobile banking space.  I worked for them 10 years ago when they were a real startup tucked away in some corner of the Sanlam Headoffice building.  It was always my idea to return to them in some way.

On 1 July 2011 I will be joining them as a Project Manager supporting one of their big customers at a office that is less than 3 km from my home.  I will be joining a company that I have a lot of respect for and also a lot of friends at .. it is like returning home.  Never in my wildest dreams did I even contemplate that I would be joining a much bigger company called Visa .. if you did not hear, Fundamo was bought by Visa earlier this week.

After leaving IBM last year, I spend some time as a hourly contractor working on a very interesting and technolgy advance project at Old Mutual.  It was great working there and the team was great (one of the best I have worked with) but when the opprotunity came knocking to join Fundamo (Visa), I had to grab with both hands. On the one hand, I am sad leaving the OM project but on the other hand, I am so excited to be joining Fundamo (Visa) particularly with the exciting times that lay ahead after their acquisition by Visa. 

See you all there on 1 July and keep the coffee fresh and warm.  Herman I am looking at you 🙂


Company (that is for working at) envy ..

Is there something like Company Envy?  That is not for their products but for a place to work.  I am fairly sure of it and most of us had this desire to work for one or other company be it Google, Facebook, IBM (did work for them) or even Microsoft.  These are all big companies and are all over the press every day.  We all know how well the employees get treated at GooglePlex and we have all heard stories about other companies.

I have this secret that I have Company Envy and have been for the past couple of years.  There is this fairly small company that is based in the Western Cape which I really want to go work for. I am not going to mention their name but people that do know me would figure this out fairly easy.  Now you may ask, why, surely they not that much different than other companies.  

So why do I want to work for them:

  • I believe in the work they do and think they so far ahead in their field.
  • I know lots of the people working there and they ethical, fair and commited to do the right thing.
  • They work hard but at the same time ensure that there is balance between work and life .. you know that work/life balance thing.
  • They treat their employees as family which is more than can be said for most other companies in this day and age.
  • Only the best gets the opportunity to work there and if you in the fortunate posotion then you know you one of the best.
  • And the list goes on ….

We all have this bucket list of things that we want to do and I do not think many include working at a specific company on their bucket list.  Well it is on my bucket list together with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and playing golf on the Old Course at St Andrews (done that and ticked off).

I am sure the opportunity will present itself in near future and believe me, I will be ready to grab it with both my hands.

Here’s to dreams coming true … 

Employment: Contractor vs Permanent

I have this debate with myself at the moment of what is the most suitable way for me when it comes to working.  Contracting or Permanent?

As a background, I have no small schoolgoing children but do have 2 that are still dependents since they are at varsity.  So I do need a stable income and some form of security to cover things like medical aid, provision for retirement and all the expenses that goes with life. 

Further, I am lucky that to a certain extend I am a highly qualified and experienced professional which make finding work fairly easy even in the tough economic situation we are currently in.

I have worked both as a contractor and a permanent employee, most as a permament employee.  From my experience over the last couple of months as a contractor, I defnitely prefer to be permanently employed.  I have found that although most companies say that they treat contractors and permanent staff the same, in practice this is far from true.  I am not going to mention company names but one company has a destinct difference in the office space they allocate to contractors vs their permanent staff.  Contractors might get a working space off somewhere between 2 and 3 square meters where permanent staff gets around 10.  As you can image, when people work in such close proximity to one another, productivity and concentration goes out the window.

Although as a contractor, my take home pay each month is far in excess than would I have been permanent, each minute and day I do not work, I do not get paid.  When we look at April and May then it means that the working days is a lot less which has a real material affect.  Also since one do not get paid for vacantion, one tends not to take any which over a period of time has a detremental affect on your health.

Also I have found that contracts tend to very short, anything from 3 to 6 months.  This always sits in the back of your mind and you are constantly on the look out for new work just incase your contract does not get renewed.  This just increase the daily stress levels one has to cope with.

At the moment the debate is strongly leaning towards the permanent side.  Even with 20% less in salary, I would go back to permanent.  Maybe it is a age thing or the way I went through my working life, but I just prefer permanent.

I would like to hear your comments on your experience regarding this.