Simon moved from the UK to Poland for new challenges, the chance to build a fresh organisation and the 40 degree summer!
From: Delivery lead, Over-the-Counter Derivatives, London.
To: Delivery lead, Operations Data Warehouse, Wroclaw and Group Chief Operating Officer IT regional representative.
Why did you decide to move roles & locations?
Fundamentally: visions of possibilities, with a side order of persuasiveness. My old boss essentially plied me, daily, with ideas about new, exciting opportunities; offered glorious visions of possible new roles, new responsibilities and challenges. When, finally, my willpower began to crumble, he finished the task by sending me to Wroclaw for a weekend in summer 2015. It was 40 degrees Celsius. FORTY DEGREES! Coming back to rainy, cold, London I was pretty much a broken, defeated, man. So I said I would go.
While all of the above is pretty much true, the chance to build a new organization from nothing, mentor young professionals starting their UBS careers and help guide and mold the new structure was, and is, a stunning opportunity. With no real ties in the UK, it became irresistible.
How different do you find the job compared to your previous role
Initially, chalk and cheese. In the UK, I led a very focused, virtually static IT team; a team in which I had grown up from a baby Java developer to being "Dad." I knew everyone and we were very comfortable working together.
In Poland I knew no-one, knew nothing about the projects and nothing about the various functions. We had a new, transitioning structure and, every month, shiny new developers to integrate and help become efficient.
I was responsible for bringing every developer into Wroclaw, aligning them with any of a dozen project teams – each working on apps I had never even heard of – and do all of this in controlled, organic manner.
How did you go about handling the internal move?
From a logistical perspective, UBS and the relocation agency handled everything. It was utterly effortless and unexpectedly stress free, from my perspective. Flat hunting was more challenging. I think both myself and the agent helping me find a place were very pleased when I moved in.
The actual role transition was a little more difficult as I had to hand over two roles and in parallel pick up a third, and this role was pretty much changing in scope daily! Fortunately, the people picking up the roles were enthusiastic, bright people. They accepted the challenge and quickly took ownership.
Picking up the new role was fun! I was effectively given a single remit: "Make Wroclaw Great!" So I broke this down to: sell Wroclaw as a delivery location, then recruit the best people to make the best delivery teams and finally, once here, make them happy and help them deliver.
“The women and men here are dynamic, challenging, intelligent and scarily talented.”
What do you like the most about the technology teams in Poland
Enthusiasm and freshness. The dynamic and vibe here is simply wonderful. The Polish Java development community is rated one of the best in the world. The women and men here are dynamic, challenging, intelligent and scarily talented. Combine all that with a growing, young office, this creates a vibrant energy that is addictive and invigorating.
The optimism of youth and the sheer talent here means these people will try anything and often succeed at tasks older hands thought tough/impossible.
Technology in financial services is sometimes associated with a few stereotypes, such as the teams being unappreciated. Do you think this is a fair?
When our users, our actual business contacts, work hand-in-hand with the teams, then there is a real camaraderie and positive feeling. It’s a shared journey – successes are appreciated and problems are handled together. Whenever we put something in front of users that makes their life easier, there is always a real sense of satisfaction and appreciation from the business.
(As a note; developers like cookies and cakes – feel free to send your developers food parcels. Courtesy of me!)
What have you learned and what advice would you give to colleagues from your mobility experience?
Don't look: leap.