10 minutes with our IT Director on his 10th work anniversary!

We know that happy employees are key to our success. That’s why we put work into creating and upkeeping an open, inclusive, safe and fun environment at work.

This year, we turn 20 – and a handful of our staff members will be with us 10 years! We think this kind of loyalty and relationship should be celebrated, because at the end of the day, there’s no company without the people.

We sat down with Nick, our IT Director, for a chat on the week of his 10th work anniversary! Read on to find out more about him, his experience here, and the vast input he’s had in shaping Net Affinity over the years.

Hey, Nick! So you’ve been at Net Affinity for 10 years this year… that’s a long time. How did your journey at Net Affinity begin?

I started at the peak of the recession in 2009 when I was finding it incredibly hard to even get job interviews. Nobody was hiring at the time and I was a 24 yr old who had just moved to Ireland (for lurv!) with little relevant experience. My degree was in a field where who you knew was actually more important, and I’d just come back from a year of travelling.

I started to apply for internships realising it was probably my only way of getting a foot in the door somewhere. One of the positions I applied for was for a Social Media Intern. Social Media up to that point was primarily for personal use. The potential for businesses to efficiently utilise social media was only just starting to emerge, so this job post in particular was very interesting to me. It was also within walking distance of where I was living at the time, so I went for it with nothing to lose!

I underwent a couple of interviews and thankfully got it. I was delighted!

What was the company like when you started?

There were 9 of us including myself, with plenty of space in a pretty small office. The company was undergoing a transition, from working with essentially any kind of company, to focusing exclusively on businesses in the hotel sector.

It was my first ‘office’ job. Everyone was really welcoming, helpful and friendly. I was always a tech-y person at home but I had no experience, training or education in anything technical. I had no idea at the time what kind of job I could do to get the most out of my repressed technical mind. One of the benefits I got from starting with such a small company was that I was exposed to many different areas of work.

I was quickly thrown in to things like: how websites are managed, website templating, domains, email hosting, website tracking, SEO, project management, client relations and web applications. To name but a few! After a couple of months, Will (our MD) identified a need for a permanent role in project management and offered me a full time position, which I gratefully accepted. I still covered many different areas, but I really enjoyed the variety and the exposure the role gave me to a broad range of technical areas.

In what ways, from your perspective, has the company grown to where it’s at now?

Starting from a team of 9, each person was pretty much fulfilling an exclusive role within the company. There was little need for written processes and policies internally because each individual just knew what to do in every situation. If you didn’t know, you had no choice but to figure it out! As we grew and expanded our workforce, we started creating teams for specific functions. At that point, the ad-hoc approach to procedures just couldn’t work any longer, so we underwent a period of time where a lot of effort was put in to defining and enforcing policies, procedures and standards.

Now, as a company of circa 48 staff, our policies and procedures are very well defined and firmly rooted in place. Each person knows exactly what they’re doing, at all times. We keep ourselves up to date with new ideas and techniques, and regularly employ solid development methodologies built to make people’s jobs easier and better. We’ve also introduced new roles, like dedicated testers, to help us achieve our consistently high standards.

The technology we use has changed massively. A few years ago, we migrated all of our services over to the ‘cloud’ which allows us to scale our services in a much easier way, along with many other benefits. Even the equipment we use to carry out our work has changed massively. LED screens were a relatively new thing when I started. Now we all have dual LED monitors on a desk mounted stand, working from laptops for a much more agile working environment!

Senior management has naturally changed a lot over the years, as we’ve transitioned from a small to a medium-sized company. The team in place currently have created a sense of stability in the workforce and have upheld high standards overall.

What have been some of your own highlights over the years?

There have been a few!

  • Being offered that initial permanent role will always stick in my memory. I really wasn’t expecting it, especially since the internship I’d come in on was due to run for another 4 months!
  • The previous head of IT leaving provided me with an opportunity to move in to an area I wanted to work in, take control over things I felt I could improve, and be given responsibility of managing people directly and indirectly.
  • 2019 was a huge year for product releases! Since I started, we’d only released one or two new products which weren’t really core to our business. For a number of years now, we’ve put huge investment into research and development. 2019 saw that investment starting to come to fruition with the release of some really nice new products which are more than capable of competing with the best in the business. What sets them apart is the underlying technology powering them. The architecture is modern which makes performance enhancements easier. It also allows us to develop faster and for the system to be as stable as possible. Another key focus has been to maintain a standard of usability for both guests and clients.
  • Moving to our new office at the beginning of last year was a huge, positive change. There was plenty for me to organise, and it was exciting to be so heavily involved in such an important milestone for the company. Prior to that, I guess we didn’t know any different, but looking back now I’m not sure how we weren’t always in this bigger, sleeker space!

Finally… 3 things that make you happiest about coming into work everyday?

  1. The variety of my position. Everyday is different!
  2. The control I have over things I care about in the company. My opinion is always listened to and valued.
  3. I’m so very happy with the people who make up the teams I’m responsible for. Every single one of them has proven themselves time and time again to be driven, focused and dedicated to their role. It’s a pleasure to work with them.

Happy 10th Nick, here’s to the next 10!

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