2011 / 2012

2011 was a tough year, but a very good year. Whenever New Year rolls around I inevitably tend to start thinking about where I was and what I was doing at the same point a year ago. Usually I can’t believe how much things have changed, and this year is no exception.

This year has been incredibly busy, both personally and professionally, and has been unlike anything previous. There have been some amazing highlights, but it has all come after an awful lot of hard work, and I’ve learnt a lot of tough lessons about what not to do. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in planes, trains and automobiles, I’ve gone 8 months without a proper break, my twitter feed has seen many rants about the M25 and Xbox Live, and I’ve learned to live with very little sleep. On the positive side I’ve bought my first home, moved across the country and transitioned out of the office every day, been given some exciting responsibilities at work, I’ve met and worked with some great people, and I’ve been able to travel to places and events that I’ve wanted to go to for ages.

Some highlights

  • February brought a promotion to Solutions Architect – this was effectively a continuation of the work I’d been doing up to that point, but more focussed on sales and strategy in a senior capacity. I was also given the responsibility of managing our key partnerships from a technical perspective. Whilst I’d been busy previously, the promotion, coupled with one of my key technical colleagues leaving and not being replaced meant that I’ve been absolutely, insanely flat out ever since. It has been great, and has given me some fantastic opportunities and chances to improve myself, but I’m determined that 2012 won’t be _quite_ so hectic!
  • A lot of March was spent in Edinburgh, what with the (always wonderful) Scotch on the Rocks conference, then back later in the month to visit National Galleries of Scotland regarding an application we were building using Flex and AIR. I also managed to fit in my first bit of time off and only real holiday in 2011 and went Skiing in Courchevel for a week. Little did I know it but it was to be my last time off for many months!

  • May brought some big highlights for me. At the start of the month I gave presentations about mobile development at events in the Paris and Brussels Adobe offices. Public speaking is a big challenge for me on a lot of levels but is something that I really enjoy, so for me to be invited to do this was great.May also brought D-Link into my life in the form of the redevelopment of their global web presence, which has been a huge task but one which has been extremely rewarding. Heading up the technical strategy, doing a mobile strategy analysis piece, and learning about and stitching together multiple existing systems took up a large chunk of my year and continues to be something I am heavily involved with into 2012. At the end of the month, after having decided earlier in the year that I would be moving to Essex or Suffolk, my boyfriend and I reserved our first home in the form of a new build house in Colchester.

  • July was all about cardboard boxes and golf. We work with The R&A, and with The Open Championship being held in July as you can imagine things get very hectic. This wasn’t helped by having to move out of my rented accommodation in Kent, and into a single room in the (common law) in-laws’ house in Suffolk for an unknown period. The move was done over one weekend, many hours on the M25, and at the end of it I was now a (part time) remote worker. This switch from full time office work was one of the most rewarding parts of my year.
  • In October I was lucky enough to get to go to the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, as an Adobe Community Professional, an Agency Partner representative, and as a MAX Award Finalist for our work with The Open. I’d been hoping to go to MAX for ages and it was a brilliant experience, made all the better by the wonderful community. I brought a lot of my learnings back to share with our clients, with one such opportunity being a very interactive day with the lovely Electronic Arts where knowledge was shared between both parties.
  • After 4 long months of visiting my house at least once a week to take photographs documenting the progress, it was finally ready for us to move in mid-November. Not one to make things easy for myself, my old car had been on its last legs with all of my driving around the country, and I ended up collecting my current car on the morning of our move.
  • For a variety of reasons I hadn’t been able to take any meaningful time off since March that didn’t involve moving, signing legal documents or other stressful obligations, illustrated by the fact that I was able to take 14 days off in December. The time off mainly involved sleep. A lot of sleep. I’d been travelling all over the US, Europe and the UK and was incredibly burnt out and sleep-deprived at this point, so it was a much needed break before Christmas. A real highlight was that whilst I was off it was officially announced to the office that I was to return from my break in my levelled up form of Head of Technology, which is a role that I’m very excited to carry forward into 2012.

Technology in 2011 and 2012

2011 was an exciting year for me with regards to technology, with a lot of emphasis around CMS, CRM and mobile. For us, 2012 looks to bring a lot more open source projects in certain areas, as well as more Sitecore and Microsoft stack projects in others. There is ever increasing expectation around mobile as standard, with content and user experience being key. As clients and users are becoming increasingly informed and interested in emerging trends, 2012 should hopefully bring some nice new challenges.

And so, into 2012…

As I’ve stated before, I don’t really do strict resolutions, but here are some things that I would like to do next year:

  • Blog more, speak more, learn more. I’m determined for 2012 to be less chaotic than 2011, to be more carefully planned, and for that to feed into being able to do the things that I think are important but have slipped this year. I’m also going to make sure I can take better care of myself as a person, and take proper time off.
  • Take more risks.
  • Update this site properly. Having struggled with a redesign since summer (I know I should give in and hire a REAL designer one day instead of torturing myself), I’ve finally got something I’m pretty happy with. It gives me a chance to do play with responsive design and mobile experiences (including some swipe gestures), and I’m debating using a proper CMS on the back-end, or creating an online/offline mobile interface for updating on the move. Now being a Samsung Galaxy Tab owner and travelling a lot, I’m really getting a taste for the ability to do stuff when I’m on trains and planes.
  • Use a notebook more. If you’ve ever met me, the likelihood is that I will have something scrawled on the back of my left hand. Notebooks won’t change this (hands are for important, urgent notes), but carrying a dedicated, robust notebook for ideas will hopefully prompt me to think more, and to leave fewer fragmented thoughts across multiple devices, post-it notes, and scraps of paper. Big thanks to the nice people at Nice Agency for the notebook they gave me at MAX. It’s serving me very well so far.
  • After an expensive 2011 with little chance to travel, I want to try to go somewhere exciting on holiday in 2012. I love travelling, and it’s one of the things that makes all of the hard work so worthwhile.

Happy New Year everyone!