Category Archives: JMU

looking back – a quick job catchup

For reasons to complex and boring I’ve just been trawling though my emails from March 06, a lot of which related to me leaving JMU – so I ended up on the blog reading posts about me leaving, why I was leaving and what I was hoping to get from moving on.

What stuck me is that i never talk about what has happened since, I’ve gone very quite on the Job front, and I’m not entirely sure why – probably because I was worried people would find me out to be a nutter – well that ship has sailed so lets talk about my current job.

Kevin Jump – Technical Director, LDL Web Services

gosh i must be bought in - it's the LDL Logo
Gosh I must be bought in - it's the LDL Logo

Now that’s a grand job title isn’t it? it’s not quite as good as the one I like to pretend I have ‘Chief Digital Overlord’ but it will do – So what’s the job about, well it’s not a million miles away from what wikipedia says it’s about I provide direct technical strategy and stuff for web things.

I would like to be a thought of a bit broader than just Web. I’m currently on a bit of a crusade to drop Web from the team name – but we can’t just be called services can we?

On the staffing side, the bit of the service i look after has 15 people in it – I directly manage five of them with three of them managing the rest (look you’re not getting the org chart – just a summary!) – I use to manage loads more, but we split it up – the theory being i get more time to actually do strategy and less holidays and sickness.

So yes I’ve left my developer roots behind, I honestly can’t remember the last time I opened visual studio in vain, but I have poked about in other things but only to cover not as a day job. I don’t look at lines of code anymore I stand back away from the screen and say “there’s two much blue” or “it looks a bit to indenty for me” but mainly people just close the windows down before I get to their desks.

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that when i left JMU I didn’t go for a technical director job, I came to a Web Developer Job, so how did I get here?

Kevin Jump – (Senior) Web Developer – 6 months

I started with the web developer role, writing code – and boy did I churn some out, mainly back end managementy stuff – but there was lots – it was quite a culture shock to be honest – It turns out I had been coasting at JMU getting quick lax deadlines – floating about for a bit then cramming to hit the deadline – at LDL there was a lot less floating and a lot more cramming. then my then boss left – which meant there was a Development Manager role going – Now cunnigly just before that I had got myself on the Leadership course, so I was being groomed – and when the job came up I went for it – and did rather well at interview I thought.

Kevin Jump – Web Development Manager – 12 months

The Development manager job was a bit of a baptism of fire – the team had been growing, we had lots of projects that where handed to us from other departments with pre-set deadlines, oh and after three months in the job the head of service left (did do a month of being head of service for a while) ! It took a while and left not fool ourselves I still work for a large organisation so change wasn’t quick. but I think we made life better.

Only problem by the end of it (with a new head of service – I wasn’t that ambitious!) I had 13 staff to manage which is way to many and I was getting bogged down with people management – so we introduced a new level so other people who could focus on it better could manage in the specialist areas – this meant we effectively created a development Manager post below me – so i needed a new job title and i bit of a better defined role.

So here we are – I direct things technically for web – if you need to know more – you can but ask.

how many cups of tea?

a cup of tea
a cup of tea

When I worked at the university, we always had a little rule for when things broke : the number of things you broke = the number of cups of tea you had to make. It was a good rule of thumb that maybe did a little to motivate you into not breaking 3,000 pcs – I doubt google have the same rule, and i can bet the person who broke the entire google search today is glad – google doing funny things for 40 minutes is a lot of tea.

Then again It never was a hard and fast rule, I once misplaced a ; in an win.ini file and killed around 1,500 computers overnight – to compound it all I was on holiday the day after when they had to clean it all up.

Neighbours, everybody needs good Neighbours

It’s ages since they’ve done it – we’d actually come to the conclusion that they’d finally grown up a bit, or else that she’d left him – but our next door neighbours had one of their stand-up fights in the street at about 3am, and now we’re Wide Awake.

Still, we’ve discussed the most likely location of the nearest cow, whether it’s too simplistic to say flat land is arable and hills are for livestock, and whether JMU Tower was really a death trap that would have killed us both if we’d stayed. So, not an unproductive night.

A bit sad that I can’t sleep, and the kids will be up soon, though.

Maybe it’s finnaly all gotten to me..

but I like doing PDRs*, Performance & Development reviews – appraisals to you and me.

In my last job. PDRs where seen as a chore, the boss didn’t like doing them, and he let you know it. some of them would go on for hours and you could see through his office window, he was squirming. you would go in, talk about the same things as you did last time, and get the same responses, often with a sense of resignation. once i got.

“well after being here five years I would expect you to leave” (i did)

they weren’t exactly inspiring.

Looking at them as I do know from the other side. I wonder if he ever did get anything from them? because I get lots.

It has to be said I do them quite differently, for a start they are in a coffee shop (get out the office, people will talk!), and I ask people how they are, what they think, just what is happening… We ramble off subject and talk about tea, children, football, philosophy, art, the west wing, and occasionally work. Yes sometimes they last for two hours – but I get to know people more (i like to think i do talk to people outside of these and I do know them a bit already), and genuine ideas come out of them.

From the last set of PDRs I went away and restructured the team, thats worked really well, from this set it looks like we are going to sort out our strategic direction (I had one, it just needed fine tuning and then we’re going to run with it). It all reinforces my getting to where you want to be by not looking directly at it thing. Which is why I sent all the designers of to an art gallery, and when i get the bottle to do it. all the developers will be off somewhere getting inspiration too.

I don’t know what my staff think, I hope they see them as useful to, I am careful to try and remember what it was like… tell people they are valuable to the team (fortunately they all are!), give people hope.. and try to inspire. It all sounds terribly fluffy doesn’t it.. maybe I am a bit of a floaty in the clouds manager.

*one point I am confused on is PDR or PR&D. It turns out I have no idea which one it is anymore…