Career Pivot Success!

It’s been a somewhat turbulent 10 months for me. Back in July of 2021 I found out that I would very likely be made redundant after 20 years of Supermarket management with Waitrose. I’d decided I should try and make the best of a bad situation and look to change career paths. I’d always said I would only work for Waitrose in Supermarkets, not any of the others, based off stories you hear about how hard they work you. Mind you, looking at the new structures it looked like Waitrose was heading that same way, another reason I thought it a good time to leave retail.

So, I mentioned in my last post I would be seeing out my time with the John Lewis Partnership working from home with the Tech and Change team on then website. Well, I dove in with both feet, spending any time I wasn’t in meetings learning more and more about Agile Management or technical aspects like AWS. In fact, I got to the point that I passed a mock exam for the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification, which could be handy if I found myself in the market for a new employer!

My new ‘office’ as I got used to the world of ‘working from home’

As it was, the hard work paid off. The Partnership started a recruitment drive at the end of March that included 25 new Delivery Lead vacancies (the role I had been learning) so I got myself one of the first interviews and found out the same day I’d ‘smashed’ the interview and I was offered a job! I was cutting it so fine, they couldn’t actually get the job offer put through before my contract was due to end, but they managed to put a hold on my redundancy while they got the offer sorted.

So it’s now official, I’m a Delivery Lead with the John Lewis Partnership, working on the website. My main role is to support and facilitate the team in a ‘servant leadership’ style. I don’t lead so much from the front, as I would in a shop, but support from behind. The team should self manage and I ensure there are no obstructions for them, check they are okay from a health and wellbeing viewpoint and make sure Agile principals and team events are followed.

I don’t have my own team yet, I’m told this will happen in the next few weeks, but for now I’m looking after ‘Browse’ which is one of the bigger and more complicated teams (I believe) as pretty much any part of the website with an ‘add to basket’ button is controlled by Browse, as well as a few other bits. It included Front End as well as Back End and with testers and designers included is around 14 people. One thing that is taking a little getting used to, that’s not 14 Partners, it’s 14 team members. Only around 5 of them are actually Partners, the others are contractors.

Working From Home

Working from home is an interesting change of pace and on the whole, it works really well in this scenario. There are a few benefits –

  • Meetings with almost anyone can be thrown together in an instant.
  • You can see what everyone is up to, it’s all listed in their calendars.
  • Meetings are easily recorded and distributed for those that can’t attend ‘live’.
  • You have no fixed place of work. It could be in the garden, in the local coffee shop, or at a relatives house!

That last one was something I’ve already made the best of. Over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, I travelled to mums on the Thursday night, worked Friday from mums spare room, enjoyed the long weekend with relatives and even extended my stay an extra day, working the Tuesday from there before travelling back home in the evening.

My ‘office’ setup at mums place.

There are of course some drawbacks, but most of these can be minimalised.

Firstly, it would be very easy for me to now never leave the flat! Right from day one, I decided I must go for a brisk walk round the block on my lunch break.

Secondly, it does make it harder for me to cycle, with there now only being two mornings I’m free and they’re back to back, not ideal if you go for a longer or harder ride on Saturday, Sunday’s ride might be a bit harder. At least I know I’m available every weekend for the various cycle events happening through the year.

The final drawback is that you miss the idea chatter that would go on in the workplace. The talk about what you watched on TV or what you got up to at the weekend. This doesn’t happen so much with strictly timed work meetings, so I’ve made a point of planning these sort of times in. Monday’s and Thursday’s is Browse Coffee Mornings where we meet for 15 minutes to chat about non-work related things. I also have month 1-2-1 meetings with each member of which part of the meeting is about getting to know them. I also make a point of asking about what people have been up to, how was their weekend or what do they have planned for the upcoming weekend at the start of most Morning Stand Ups.

Last week I had my first day working from Bracknell too. I encouraged as many of the team that could, to come in to work from the office for the day. It really did surprise me how much I enjoyed it, was great to be back working amongst people.

My first day working at Bracknell

It’s definitely something I would like to do on a reasonably regular basis, it’s just a shame it’s an hour and a half commute to get there! (Possibly more on a bad day)

My desk in Taylor House

All in all I’m really pleased and proud that I’ve managed to make this career pivot. What I must ensure is I keep my foot on the gas. I’ve learnt a lot in the last four months, but there’s still a lot more to learn!