There are loads of things I love about Columbia Road, but the biggest plus is the diversity, which creates a working environment that is professionally and culturally rich. I’d say it’s the norm for new Roadies to arrive with a range of backgrounds, and they all contribute something unique.
Personally, my unusual career history helped me get my foot in the door – in my application, I said, “I’m a lawyer, but professionally I identify as a software developer” – and I’ve since seen for myself how much Columbia Road values varied experiences. As well as studying and practising law in my earlier days, I also founded a start-up with a friend, and this varied journey has benefited me in my time here. And the journey continues, today, I get to help our clients with much more than merely development.
The more strings to your bow, the better
Being a talented developer is important, of course, but we’re not just looking for ‘code monkeys’. Columbia Road factors in a person’s potential and ambitions when hiring, not just their hard skills – I like to think of the company as a VC for talented people because we invest in their potential.
In addition to being a good cultural fit, the ideal Roadie has multiple strings to their bow, including the personality and experience to adapt and thrive in different challenging environments. Such people are in high demand, which means it’s not as simple as knowing where to find them. Being able to attract them is also essential, as is offering a positive working experience.
I’ve been told by consultants at other companies that creating a nice environment more than pays for itself in the long run, as happy people do good work, and that’s certainly been my experience here.
A company that fosters the right environment
I’ve found that Columbia Road is permeated by a strong sense of unity, from the fun we have at our regular events and get-togethers (the next karaoke number is never far away!) to the supportive atmosphere where asking for help is always encouraged – even for really simple things – and I feel more like I’m having fun with friends than working. I have the freedom to choose what I want to do and the trust to take responsibility for it.
And as someone who’s had the opportunity to carve out my own path as a developer, I really appreciate the variety in work – it’s a bit like freelancing but without the risk.
How my experience as a lawyer helped me succeed here
Columbia Road doesn’t just appreciate the diverse experience for the sake of it. There are numerous ways in which the skills and understanding I gained as a lawyer and company owner have helped me as a software consultant. For instance, my legal work prepared me for the problem-solving side of my current job, taking time to delve deep and look at things from multiple angles.
The consultancy aspect also gave me a good grounding in client communication and providing time estimates. There are differences too, of course – with law there’s no certainty, and the answer to the questions we were asking was often “it depends”, whereas in software development, something either works or it doesn’t.
My entrepreneurial background also prepared me well
As a business owner, I learned what it’s like to be on the client side, trying to get the best service for the best possible price. This gives me some appreciation of how our customers feel, which enables me to respond with empathy and understanding. My background has also given me lots of insights into the types of business problems I’m solving for them and helped me understand that it’s important to focus on finding the best possible solution rather than being distracted by exciting new tech that isn’t necessarily the right option.
Always moving onwards
I’ve continued my professional growth further still since joining Columbia Road. I now have more confidence to take on leadership roles in projects, and I feel well-equipped to mentor new Roadies, both professionally and emotionally. People here have helped me so much, so it’s great to be able to give something back.
I’ve also acquired plenty of knowledge and experience to serve me well in my future personal life and career. These days I don’t only help companies sell better with software development, but I have also taken a larger role in consulting companies with strategy and business development as well.