Published on Sunday, 6 Sep, 2020
Time for a new role!
As you may have seen from a few mentions, I'm soon going to be starting a new role. I’m very happy and excited to say that from October I’ll be working as Head of Engineering at Farewill! 🎉
2020 continues to be a year of shifting plans, and adapting when needed or when opportunities arise. Despite working with some absolutely fantastic people and really believing in the mission at Monzo, when the option came up to be able to take voluntary redundancy, after a lot of thought I decided that leaving was the best path forward for me. My last day was towards the end of July, and since then I’ve been enjoying some much needed rest, as well as being grateful to be in a position where I could take my time to find the right next role.
My job hunt was pretty extensive
Despite not being in a rush, I was extremely flattered by the amount of interest once news hit the press of the upcoming redundancies, and so wanted to capitalise on that by not waiting too long. In the end I was contacted by around 200 people about new opportunities, which was a ridiculously fortunate and unexpected position to be in! I’m very grateful to anyone who got in touch, and for everyone who spent time talking to me.
75 of those made it onto my tracking spreadsheet, and after written messages and reviewing job specs I had calls with 23 different companies. These ranged from short initial chats which didn’t go any further, to the longest process involving 7 hours of interviews and discussion.
In the final week of my search I ended up with two offers on the table from companies I really, really liked, and where I’d hugely enjoyed getting to know people on the teams. It was a really tough decision, but ultimately Farewill felt like it was the best choice for me.
Farewill felt like a great match for many reasons
For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with Farewill, here’s the mission as set out on the website:
For generations, the way people deal with death has been the same. It’s cold, complex and incredibly stressful – and it usually involves an expensive trip to your local solicitor too. We created Farewill to change all that. By blending smart technology with outstanding customer service, we’re making everything to do with death easier, faster and fairer for people all over the UK.
The company offers award-winning wills, probate, and cremation services, and has gained glowing reviews for being a sensitive and practical voice on a challenging topic.
One of the things that really stood out is how closely aligned we are in terms of an approach to management and leadership; how the people I spoke to genuinely do believe in a people-centric approach to technology, both for the staff and for the product. This came across particularly when I spoke to both Tom (CPTO) and Dan (CEO), and it really felt like a relationship that would be a great match on both sides.
I was also impressed with a couple of other things in particular. Everyone I spoke to seemed to genuinely care about creating an environment that focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I was particularly interested in how the development team had been 100% women at one point!
The other side is, of course, the product. I never planned to join a bank, but even less so had I thought that I’d ever be joining “the death industry”, or in fact “The UK’s best-rated death experts” ! Obviously the main perk here is that I get to sound like a badass assassin, and I fully intend to use this joke at every opportunity. However I’ve made no secret about the fact that I enjoy working in spaces which make a difference, and Farewill are trying to tackle one of the most difficult and taboo, which is also something that affects every single person on the planet. Customer service is a big focus, and having worked in that domain for the last year and a half I’m also keen to see how we can continue to build on the great work being done by the team already.
My role: Head of Engineering
I’m joining as Head of Engineering, and will be reporting to Tom, the CPTO. I’ll take management responsibility for the whole of the engineering org, working closely with our Engineering Managers to create a fantastic working environment for the whole engineering team.
Over the next 12 months we plan to double engineering, so a big focus will naturally be on hiring, as well as putting in place the systems to support us growing.
Outside of that I’ll be doing a real range: developing the tech strategy, finding the right balance between building fantastic products and shipping quickly, helping our people to grow and develop as individuals and as teams, and promoting good engineering practices.
I don’t officially start until the beginning of October, but have already had some low-key involvement to input into the engineering progression framework (a topic I have some pretty strong views on after redeveloping Monzo’s!), and am keeping in touch with everything that’s going on in the meantime.
I still have a month of time off, and I’m spending it doing a mix of recharging (I was pretty burnt out back in July), and being productive. In my latest blog post I talked about how I’m doing some free coaching sessions for folks in groups under-represented in tech, and I’ve also been spending 5 hours every week doing Japanese classes (sadly not in Tokyo this year!), and taking some online coding courses to catch up on things I’m interested in but never had the headspace for. There’s also been a lot of reading, gaming, LEGO making, gardening, and walking around various bits of East Anglia.
I’m really looking forward to what comes next and everything we’re going to do together. I’ll aim to share as much as possible about how we’re growing and evolving the team, as well as working hard to keep the fantastic culture that made me want to be a part of this in the first place!