Working at Red Gate
A place to do great work
User Experience Specialist
When did you join Red Gate?December 2004
What was your first ever job?I was solely responsible for making sure my mother's tummy stuck out like a beach ball. The job ended abruptly after 9 months and I didn't get paid.
After that, my first money earning job was my own business washing cars outside a pub at the age of 12. It was great. The clients went in to the pub to drink and I washed their cars in the meantime. For my age it was big bucks, and when they returned (possibly having imbibed a swift pint or two) they invariably didn't notice the shonky job I'd done.
And if that's still a bit too early, my first proper job after university was still my own business. I was the managing director in a bespoke computer building, component reselling, VAT registered limited company that er... we gave up on after a year without losing money, but never really making any money either.
Before you arrived at Red Gate what did you do?I worked at Nokia over in Helsinki, Finland. I took a mobile phone from an initial idea to a viable concept, that eventually went on to be manufactured (long after I had left). It was great to have a lot of influence over the direction of the phone and even better to see that all my big ideas were still in the product once it was released.
Before that, I worked in a company that manufactured bar coding and labelling machines. It doesn't sound very interesting, but at times it was really challenging. There I was designing the user interfaces for the printers and even sometimes getting down and dirty with the physical ergonomics of the machines.
What does your job involve on a day-to-day basis?It's a very varied job and whilst it's a cliché to say it, no two days are ever the same. As a User Experience designer, there are many activities you get involved with. Initially, I'm involved with meeting and speaking to end users to understand their problems – it's a crucial step in ensuring we're solving the right problems. There's a lot of creativity next: brainstorming ideas and sketching out concepts both by myself and with the rest of the team. Those ideas are then tested with end users to see if we're talking gibberish or if we're on the right track. As a result of their feedback, those ideas get refined some more. As confidence grows in our designs, coding starts and the role changes to a more detail orientated position where the software is built and validated through usability sessions. And tea.
My job often involves making and drinking copious quantities of tea. I like tea.
What do you like about working in User Experience at Red Gate?What's not to like? The people I work with are incredibly smart and the work is always interesting. Red Gate is really passionate about user experience and having worked in companies before where user experience is treated as just a 'nice to have', it's incredibly refreshing and motivating to work for a company that truly understands the value of the discipline.
Complete the following sentence: I know everything there is to know about......knowing I don't know everything there is to know about knowing I don't know everything there is to kno... I'll stop now.
I do know that as someone with a very keen awareness of usability and user experience, my life is somewhat impaired by never being able to blissfully ignore the bad examples I encounter on a daily basis.
I know a little about photography which is my big passion outside of work, and occasionally inside of work if people are brave enough to let me loose.
What's your favourite book?I'm not much of a reader of fiction, but recently I've been reading a lot of Mr. Men (Mrs. Women) books... in French. J'aime beaucoup Monsieur Malchance.
What super power do you wish you had (or have but aren't telling anyone because that's the point of being super)?I already have a supremely effective super ability to quaff tea of an incomprehensibly toasty temperature. I'm sure it's cooking me from the inside out, but at least I'll be cooked and ready to eat when my time finally comes and people are looking disappointedly at the miserable buffet prepared for my wake.
Aside from that, slowing down time so I could have an extra 12 hours a day would be high on the list of desirable powers to pick up in the supermarket..
Why did you choose Red Gate?At first I really wasn't sure. I had offers from other companies and they all sounded more interesting – database stuff sounded... er... a bit dull to be honest. But I was eventually won over by the people I'd met and the great atmosphere I'd felt. Thankfully I couldn't have been more right in opting for Red Gate. The company culture has proven to be the truly outstanding thing that makes working at Red Gate special.
What are your favourite Red Gate perks?There are too many to list. I appreciate being treated like an adult with the flexi-time and you can't argue with the (outstanding) free food. But these are just the tip of the iceberg really to how well Red Gate treats us.
What's your most memorable Red Gate experience so far?Having been at Red Gate for a while now, my list is growing...
Being dressed as a gorilla all day for world usability day and then being locked outside was one.
Being Santa at Christmas distributing presents to the kids was another.
Sprinting to the dance floor at the 2009 Christmas party at Queens College in some shoes that glowed red in the dark was kinda fun too.
The Mad Hatters tea party
Too many more...