I knocked off work early today because, well, we were told we could. It seemed to make sense in the light of the Melbourne development office, of Travelport Locomote, being told it was going to be closed as a development shop. There will some ongoing functions in Melbourne but software development won’t be one of those functions. It feels a little weird to be writing this as I’ve not been unemployed for over 30 years. Come close of business Friday 14 December, that changes. Hopefully only briefly, but nevertheless, it changes.
When I started at Locomote (as it was then) just under 2 years ago (January 2nd, 2019 would have been my 2 year anniversary) it was a big move. I left a company where I had spent 18 years. That change was much needed, I needed a space where people were valued and treated as people with valuable ideas. A place where you could safely disagree and not be seen as treasonous for holding a different view to your Manager. I found that at Locomote.
When I started at Locomote it still had a start up feel, and I really enjoyed that. There was freshness and vibrancy that was really invigorating. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, when you leave a workplace with a toxic culture it doesn’t just fall away, it clings for a while and you need to work through stuff and adjust. Fortunately, with help from supportive colleagues, I was able to work through that baggage.
Travelport became a more noticeable influence across the past 12 months. When I first arrived they were barely visible and Locomote was something of a “latchkey child” but as time progressed Travelport (“Mum and Dad”) were noticeably home and more influential. It was always going to go this way, they spent a considerable amount of money acquiring Locomote so bringing operations “into line” was inevitable. Having been through this shift before it was interesting to see staff morale. It declined, as it had in other places where I have worked and owner transformation had rolled in. What makes Locomote different is that the leadership group stood up, called everyone into a meeting and said (this isn’t verbatim) “we own Locomote culture, let’s make it something brilliant together”. I clearly remember that day as the day that things really picked up again. It’s a great memory to have and it was awesome to be part of the change.
As I write this I’m not sure if I feel numb, sad, relieved or a little of all. I’m certainly relieved that the decision was delivered quickly with humility, empathy and understanding. The Executive that delivered the message, in person, looked far worse delivering the news than most of those in the room receiving it. If it helps any, you did as good a job as you could have in the circumstances.
So for me it’s on to the next adventure. Hopefully that won’t be too far away. I was planning to take some leave in December so that has probably just grown a little in length. I suppose on the bright side it gives me some additional time to focus on the ‘Java for beginners” course I just started (and am really loving).
So as I move into the “winding down” phase I can’t help but reflect on the fun I had. There were some frustrations and disappointments, but, overwhelmingly it was fun. I was able to influence testing practices and align 2 teams with the principles and practices that resulted in the teams testing from the start to finish of a story (without once calling it “shifting left”). Practices that I had used covertly at my previous job were brought into the open and I learned a lot from being able to do that and discuss it openly with others. I worked with people at various levels in the organisation to help them understand what excellent testing looks like and why it matters. For what it’s worth, the first guild to be set up and running, when we decided we wanted guilds, was the Test guild (and we were the only guild for some time).
While I can talk about achievements they don’t mean a lot unless you are working with great people. I was fortunate enough to work with excellent people and in 2 super brilliant teams. In both teams I had a vision for testing and was able to share that, get buy in and commitment. Did that make it straightforward? Hell no, we failed regularly but we acknowledged those failures as a group and tried for better. I’ll miss working with these people.
So, as the metaphorical sun begins to set, and the landing gear touch down smoothly on the tarmac, I am now but a short taxi from disembarking
(forgive me, we built travel software, it seems appropriate). As I leave I will take great memories with me and the knowledge that I have learnt a lot. I leave a better tester and person than when I started at locomote and hope that I have also influenced others in positive ways.
Thanks for the ride, and the memories, Locomote and Travelport. It was a relatively short partnership but we did some great stuff together. Perhaps, down the track, our paths will cross again.