One Year of ThoughtWorks: A Retrospective

It seems like it was yesterday that I wrote about my next big challenge: Moving to Australia to join ThoughtWorks. Since then a year has passed and I thought I’d share a little bit about what it’s been like so far.

The first thing you notice when joining ThoughtWorks is that you’re surrounded by smart, opinionated people. It was once common for me to be the one fighting for automated testing, TDD, Ruby and overall finding new and better ways of doing what we do - but imagine how different it is to join a team that takes that for granted. This gives you a very high standard within the team that frees your mind to try and achieve bigger things. It’s a great feeling.

ThoughtWorks‘ culture is inspiring. We’re a small and very active community - there’s always something going on in our offices after hours: Tech nights, local groups’ meetups, training, people randomly hacking on stuff and even band rehearsals! The point is that you can get involved in several ways and the best part is that ThoughtWorks supports all that: be it providing pizzas and beers, flying us to international conferences, buying books and whatnot in order to help us do our best! I could go on but you get the point.

In return, we get to work on hard stuff. Not only technically challenging but personally challenging as well. As consultants we can be thought of as agents of change: When we go to a client, we’re not only concerned with building the coolest projects with the best tools out there - of course that’s a big part of what we do - but we’re expected to change the way they think, work and do business.

Since I joined I worked with 2 clients - and 2 different projects - that varied wildly between them. That is in part what makes working at ThoughtWorks so interesting to me. You get to change domains, technologies and teams more often than not, which nurtures a stimulating environment.

The first project for instance was a standard Java web app where we had the usual players such as Spring, Hibernate, Freemarker, etc…

My current project, on the other hand, is very much like a start-up: We have a EC2 box that plays our CI role, all code is hosted on Github, we’re using Ruby on Rails and deploying the whole thing to Heroku + RDS.

To top it off I also had the chance to make a real difference in the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal in 2010, when we built a donation app to help the flood victims - that was definitely the highlight of the year, and something I’m particularly proud of.

What next? I’m eager to find out what my second year here has to offer. Bring it on!