I moved onto a new client this week, based in Swansea (the obvious guess applies). There is already a large and well established team there from several companies working in some degree of harmony. I was originally expecting to benefit from a couple of weeks handover from my predecessor but as it turned out, this was not to be so and I was dropped into the deep end. Not as deep as it could have been though as many people were still on holiday and there was another colleague who had worked closely with my forerunner and who I will continue to work with who was able to lead through my new world.
The project I am working on is highly technical and I am delighted to see the high calibre of the people I will be working with. It will be great being able to rely on the technical abilities of others and not have to carry anyone.
The learning curve is steep so my head hurts somewhat. I have forgotten a lot of stuff over the years (and the principle, the more you learn the more you realise you don’t know applies) and found myself constantly having to check suitable information sources on the internet to remind myself of what certain things mean and how they relate to each other. I have spent so many years simplifying things for business people, getting back to exacting technical definitions is especially trying but fun. I know I will end up wanting to re-establish a large linux server farm at home just so I can play some more.
I have been very mindful of my need to adjust the way I operate so as not to intimidate or bully people, to use a wide range of styles in managing and in avoiding getting too focused on projects to my own detriment. I have asked my boss on site and my immediate colleagues to give me a kick early if I get into old habits. I think they will be very supportive. A recent course, with the catchy title “Sink or Swim” has also helped me reflect on the best approach to managing my way through project problems.
Many of my colleagues live in rented accommodation rather than staying in hotels all the time. This is something I have never done, largely a legacy of having spent most of my consulting career on project lasting only a few months or working on many projects in different locations simultaneously. In many ways, the idea of having to look after another place does not fill me with warm feelings, but I am frankly sick of staying in hotels however good they may be.
The main problem staying in your average corporate hotel (Marriott, Hilton, etc.) is that the menus are relatively short and you get bored of them very quickly and you only alternative is then eating in restaurants, which are more hassle than room service after a long and tiring day. Neither food option is great from a health point of view either. Sometimes, you just want something simple and this is not easy. In your own place, you can cook what you like just as at home.
Another problem with hotels is that, well, you have to vacate your room each week and start again the next week. You have to take everything you need back and forth every week. With your place, you can leave stuff there.
It takes around four hours including breaks to drive between Swansea and home. Sometimes, it would be easier to stay in Swansea for the weekend (and perhaps get my wife and/or kids to come down to me for a change). Viable with an rented place, tricky with a hotel.
I have heard a lot of people complain about Swansea, but I think I might actually like the place. Certainly the coastal location and Welsh weather should give me plenty of photographic opportunities. The last place I was in was Swindon, so the bar is not terribly high. We shall see.