Week Notes - Two Years at GDS

As of today, I've been employed by GDS for two years. Time for some reflections.

The Big

Working for the government isn't much different from working for a large business. I know people harp on about the inefficiency of the public sector - I can only assume those people haven't seen how much money FTSE100 companies waste on nonsense.

The work is important. Don't get me wrong, I loved my time selling ringtones to kids, and telling publishing companies that mobile apps were cool - but there's a real sense that I'm helping. I know I'm not saving lives, but I am nudging things in a more open and equitable direction. That feels amazing.

It's a cliché to say that the people are what makes a job - but it is true. Such a wonderful set of humans - diverse in opinion and outlook.

The Small

Expenses and payroll systems are annoying. Not much more so than in previous jobs, but enough to make me grind my teeth. I've been partly successful in agitating for change, but it is slow going.

I'm on my 6th line manager in two years. That's a bit troubling from a continuity perspective but, in truth, I don't feel like it has held me back.

There's a stack of blog posts I can't write. The Civil Service Code (rightly) prevents me from being too political. It can be frustrating at times not to join in with the global discussion - but it is probably better for my emotional state.

The Future

I was originally on a two year contract. That was upgraded last year to a permanent role.

Do I want to stay here? That's a tough question. I've applied for a couple of Civil Service jobs in the last few months. One was ridiculously ambitious - which I didn't even get an interview for, but was helpful in making me understand the process. The other - which included a secondment in San Francisco - I was interviewed for, but I knew immediately that it wasn't for me.

I'm in love with my mission. Make every aspect of the government use open standards by default. But it is tough. Gov is big and some people fear change. The job will never finish. There will always be a department which doesn't get it, or a sales-weasel who foists a proprietary solution on an unsophisticated team, or simply an employee who doesn't want to change their workflow.

I know it is a matter of when, not if, I get too frustrated to continue.

For now? Onwards!

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