Career moves

30 04 2008

It’s been some time since I’ve written in this blog.  Mostly because I’m inherently lazy (my grandfather once said “a lazy man is a smart man” and I’ve tried to follow this sage advice) but partially because I’ve gone through quite a few changes with work.  Here’s the back-story about where I’ve been working for the last couple of years up to the present.

A few years ago an Australian company – that had been in business for 20-odd years – bid for a large contract in the US.  That company was called Innovonics and, although they were smaller than many of the competitors, their bid was successful. 

One of the competitors to the contract, a US outfit called Integrian, took a look at Innovonics and reasoned it would be best for them to purchase the company.  I’m guessing the strength of the US dollar at the time may have been a factor.  Anyway, they decided to reduce their US development team in order to ramp up the number of Aussie developers.  Shortly after this happened I began work with Innovonics what was now Integrian Australia.

For the next couple of years the pace of development was frantic.  Many late nights and a metric buttload of effort went into developing a product that was inherently complex and less stable than anyone would like.  However, we’d nailed many of the bigger problems when Integrian decided to pull the plug on the Australian branch and put it under administration, returning development back to the US.

Bugger.

[I won’t go into details as to why I think they chose to go down this path – this isn’t the right forum.]

Administration is an interesting process.  The administrators are assigned the task of investigating how best to sell the company.  Some of the options open to them include selling the assets, intellectual property, or finding a buyer to take over the remains.  For employees of a company in this situation it’s a time of extreme uncertainty as you simply become an asset or, worse, a liability.  You have little control of your fate.

Integrian US still had a use for many of us software devs.  As I mentioned they were trying to ramp up and continue development of our product over there and, with little domain knowledge, they were going to struggle.  Many of us agreed to work with them for a short period that required us to hand over as much knowledge as possible.  Technically we resigned from Integrian Australia and signed short-term contracts with Integrian US.  We would also have to travel to the US to perform some of the knowledge transfer face-to-face.  I travelled to the US three times in a fairly short period and helped, as best I could, at getting their devs up and running.

They had also tried to convince us to relocate.  Raleigh, in North Carolina, is a nice place in a rural small-town sort of way but, well, Melbourne is pretty special; only one of us (out of some 20-odd) chose to take up this option.

While this was happening the administrators were doing their thing.  Some IP was sold, some staff were let go, some agreements hacked out between them and some of the stranded customers.  But the majority of the business was still intact and there were a number of interested buyers.  Eventually a French company, Faiveley, was announced as the new owner of the company.

I had since returned from my last trip to the US and was doing some work remotely for Integrian US but wasn’t interested in doing it for much longer.  Melissa and I had decided to go on our 10-week European holiday but that was a couple of months away.  Deciding to fill in the time with some contract work, I approached Faiveley asking if they wanted some short-term help.  They were enthusiastic and promised to get back to me.  They did the next day and I was a little surprised, but pleasantly so – they had offered me a full-time position with an agreement I could spend the ten weeks away (unpaid of course) for my trip.  I accepted.

That’s where I’m at currently.  I’ve been with Faivieley for a couple of weeks now and am pretty happy.  The work is interesting and I’ve got enough control to keep me challenged and motivated.  Unfortunately we’re moving from Kensington to Port Melbourne in the near future; a decision I’m decidedly not happy about…but that can be the subject of another post!

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5 responses

1 05 2008
Will

Wow, that sounds crazy Matt. Have fun in Europe!

Port Melbourne’s not too bad, I’ve grown to like the area. If you’re close enough, the beach is always nice. Too bad i’m leaving Port Melbourne in a couple of weeks.

1 05 2008
trentini

Thanks Will; I’m sure I’ll have fun in Europe!

I really like Port Melbourne – around Bay St and the beach, it’s a fantastic area. However we’re nowhere near there, we’re moving to the industrial side near Fishermans Bend. I created a Google Map of our locations.

Bloody. Awful. Location.

It is a shame you’ll be leaving – we could have ‘done lunch’. 🙂

2 05 2008
Jiggy

Congrats on the (sorta) new job Matt! Glad to hear you’ve got that all sorted 🙂

2 05 2008
Curious

what do you think of the US guys?

4 05 2008
Will

Ouch. Yeah, not sure what’s around that end (aside from Holden/Kraft). I’m over near Williamstown Rd/Salmon St for the next 2 weeks. The beach is around 10 minutes by foot for me.

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