PushON Work / Life – An interview with Tom, our Front-end Lead
What’s your role at PushON?
I’m the front-end lead. It’s my responsibility to make sure the quality of the front-end work we do is up to scratch and to tutor and mentor the other members of the front-end team.
How long have you been at PushON now, Tom?
Well, it’s a slightly odd one really because at one point I left and then returned. Second time around I think 2 years? (It’s actually 2 years 8 months but time flies when you’re having fun.)
OK, well tell us a bit about that. What prompted you to leave and then why did you return?
I left chasing money and temptations of career progression but realised on the 2 years away from PushON there’s far more to life than money. Quality of life, quality of work that you do during the day and what you’re being asked to do, everything surrounding the job except the money was wrong.
That’s why I took you up on your offer to call if things didn’t work out and so I did and here I am.
So in total you’ve been here about 5 years now?
Yeah, I started in early 2010 when I realised that Colne couldn’t offer me enough but yeah if we ignore the break in employment it’s about 5 years
You must have seen a few changes then over the years?
Yeah definitely. When I started we were a tiny team in a very small office. The kitchen and the toilet were all part of the same room. When I returned from my break you were in a new, much larger office. And the marketing team had just started to develop before I left is now fully-fledged and takes up half the office.
And what about changes in the development work you do?
It’s changed quite a lot from the early days. We’re no longer doing the small to medium budget brochure type sites we used to do and the clients we now work with have sensible budgets with the layers of support internally that are needed to ensure projects are successful. It makes for a much less stressful working situation with projects managed properly internally and externally.
Obviously we’ve also changed too and have our own layers of project management which have improved over the years and the dedicated account management layer which allows us developers to develop and get on with what we do best.
It’s also meant we now have team members with individual strengths and expertise in certain areas whereas before we had two or three all-rounders. That’s great because you can just come in and do the job you’re being asked to do without having to juggle other stuff.
PushON has re-positioned itself in the last couple of years to make people more aware of the full eCommerce service offering; what sort of impact has that had on you?
It’s just provided a clearer structure if anything. It’s not really changed who PushON are as a company and how I feel about working here.
Do you enjoy the eCommerce work we do?
Yes definitely, the brochure sites or short shelf-life sites we did in the past to support PR campaigns tend to be low return, high pressure jobs. With eCommerce there’s more of a development cycle that aligns with seasonality needs and it’s a comfortable cycle that means you know where you’re going to be and what will be expected at different times of the year.
That must provide some pretty challenging front-end challenges for you. Anything that stands out?
It does; eCommerce development means you’re dealing with a lot of data, and presentation of that data on the front-end is a challenge. It exposes you to some of the back-end stuff going on which improves your all-round dev knowledge. Plus, there’s the fact that we’re working with transactional sites where people are spending money and someone is taking money, which means considerations about UX and speed performance are all challenges to get your teeth into.
There’s rarely a day that at some point there isn’t some new challenge for me to overcome and work through.
And you like that, constant new challenges?
Yes, devs I think are all generally of that ilk – they’ve got a thirst for knowledge. If there’s a single complaint I hear regularly from fellow developers outside of PushON it’s that they don’t get challenged or have the chance to learn new things.
We’ve got an environment here that allows for that, which I like.
Any words of advice for budding developers out there who might be considering which path to take?
Don’t be scared to make mistakes – it’ll hold you back. But you also have to strike a balance with being overconfident – you need to be humble enough to admit when you need help.
Feed off the resource around you. There’s no point being in a dev team if you’re going to try to do everything by yourself and not use the knowledge surrounding you.
It’s something you’ve mentioned a few times to me. It’s fair enough spending time trying to solve something but don’t be too proud to stick your hand up and ask for help.
Yeah, pride’s a good one. Often devs are too proud to shout out that they need help and are too scared to point out when they make a mistake. That’s one of the comforting things about PushON; you’ll never get flamed for pointing out you’ve made a mistake or you don’t know how to do something.
Mistakes will happen, we’re all human.
Any particular highlights that stand out in your mind from your time so far here?
It’s slightly bittersweet but for me after returning from my brief spell away from working here and then Scott following a similar path and returning six months after he left to become back-end lead. I think that says so much about the company in general.
We’re both very enthused about our vision for the team and the second part of 2016 has seen us make some really positive strides forward in all areas. We’re improving, and some of the newer members of the team are proving to be stars so we’re excited for the future.
If you had to sum up for someone what work/life at PushON was like, how would you do that?
Consistent is a word I’d use definitely. Consistently busy with new exciting work. The management is consistently thinking of us, which is a really positive thing. You know what you’re going to get and it’s all good.