Adam Bird


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Friday, 8 February 2013

Leaving London

In 2006 I made two life-defining decisions. One, was to agree with Stephanie’s request for a baby, the second was to seek new employment, to work in London and try and perfect the art of website development. Now, almost seven years later the tide has turned and I’m heading back to where I came from.

I had been working in Maidstone for a company called Qube Data Management, I was answering the phones and dealing with database queries as part of the Renault Trade Parts project. My boss asked me to build a website, something for a father-in-law about building your own home. “Okay”, I said “There is just one problem, I don’t know how to build websites...” He had already second guessed my answer and told me that I’d better start learning. He gave me a book on how to build websites using Microsoft Front Page and off I went.

That book ultimately proved to be a turning point in my career. In fact, it was the start of my career. I’d been presented with a unknown gift which opened a part of me that decided, yes, this is what I want to do now.

Sadly Qube Data Management wasn’t of sufficient size to allow me to fully grow at the rate in which I wanted, so with the blessing of the company behind me I head off to the bright lights of London, to Knightsbridge and a company called RMG Connect where I found myself immersed into the wonderful world of advertising and everything else that comes with it.

At first it was a huge culture shock. Going from a company which had five members of staff to a company of well over a hundred. Remembering names was a nightmare without having to pick up new methodologies and systems that were alien to me, let alone handing the responsibility of end content that was published to a worldwide audience. It’s times like that you learn about yourself and is ultimately more rewarding than the tasks you are paid to do.

I loved those four years and it was a wrench to leave. But with agency changes and uncertainty surrounding the future I decided to take my own destiny in my own hands and was rewarded with my current role at ais London.

ais London has been another adventure, filled with great work, great people and a working culture that has been a real privilege to have been a small part of. But with agency life comes one downside. All the time that you are in favour with your clients, the good times are many, but if the client fancies a change of scene or creative direction there isn’t much the current agency can do about it.

With work not being as plentiful as it was twelve months ago I felt that I had stagnated slightly and for a developer constant evolution is vitally important. Technology changes and its vital that we keep up. When I decided to look for a new role I had no real expectation in mind. I met and spoke with some fantastic companies and some great opportunities were there for the taking. In some ways I wasn’t suited to them or it wasn’t what I was looking for until I met with James Villa Holidays.

They are based in Maidstone, which takes me back full circle to where I started. I’ll be working for the first time ever directly for the client, helping shape their digital offerings and ensuring that their customers website experience is as good as their end product, namely holiday villa rentals across the world.

I’ve had nearly seven years in London and now seems as good a time as any to try something new and have a change of scenery, albeit somewhere slightly familiar. Before I say goodbye though, there are some things that I’ll miss and some that I won’t.

I’ll miss...

The People

Although this isn’t necessarily London centric, I’ll miss the people that I’ve been lucky to meet and to work with. I’ve worked with two teams of developers, the RMG Connect team and the team here at ais London. I consider myself very fortunate, to work alongside them and to know them as people. I’ve not met one ‘bad apple’, a guy with an attitude or anyone that has been unwilling to help. In fact, that goes across the board, account managers, creatives, planners - only the odd project manager would fulfill that negative criteria but they’ve never really lasted for very long.

The Shard

It sounds a bit sad and slightly ridiculous, but I’ll miss seeing the Shard everyday. I’ve literally watched it being built piece by piece over the last few years and just as it’s starting to open I won’t be around to visit it.

The Walk

I tend not to use the underground if I can help it, I don’t really need to. Whilst I worked at RMG Connect I used to walk from Charing Cross past Buckingham Palace and up Constitution Hill into Knightsbridge. It’s ideal for people watching and the sense of history surrounding you is something you can never grow tired of. I’ve continued to walk every day to the office at ais London. Walking through Soho offers the same mixture of people and reappearing characters added to the hustle and bustle of the tourist scene.

The Diversity

Maybe it is my background, coming from a company of five people, but the diversity of people that I’ve worked with will be missed. I’ve lost count of the various nationalities of people that I’ve met, they’ve come from all around the world. But diversity isn’t measured purely by culture, it’s the diversity of choice. Which pub to drink in, which sandwich shop to buy lunch from, where to go to eat. The choice and availability at a London workers disposal is endless.

I won’t miss...

The Newspaper Vendors

If I picked up a free newspaper from every vendor who has waved one at me during my walk home I would have a pile to the moon and back. I don’t want one. No. The aggressive waving a newspaper in front of my face does not, will it ever not make me change my mind.

The Tube

I don’t actually mind the tube that much, simply as I use it when I want to, not that I need to. But whenever I do I always find at least one person annoys the hell out of me. Standing on the left of the escalator. Standing on the right of the escalator with a bag parked on the right. Standing up against the central pole off the carriage when the train is relatively empty so there is no place for anyone else to hold on to. Bags with wheels. Men pulling bags with wheels. People getting on the train before letting people get off. If I really thought about it the list would be endless and I’ll only get further aggravated - so I won’t!

The Tourists

Okay, so I did say that I’ll miss the walk and people watching, which is true. But overall I won’t miss the annoying tourist. The ones that walk dead slow when I’m in a hurry to and from work. Especially when they are walking whilst looking at a map or reading a guide book and oblivious to anyone around them. Even more annoying are the ones the stop suddenly to take a photograph, of nothing more than a crack in the pavement more times than not. Or the look of incredulity I get from not being able to give directions. I work in London, I don’t live in London, please don’t expect me to know every street name and how the hell you get there because I simply don’t know!

If you had told me seven years ago what the next few years would bring I wouldn’t have believed you. So here’s to the next seven years wherever it may take me. I might well be back again one day, if I am, I just hope it was as good as this time around.

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