2006 to 2010 – Learning, Developing and Travelling

As a continuation from my previous post looking at the early years I’m now glad to be continuing the story courtesy of another long haul flight to Orlando for work, more coming on that soon! This time I will be looking at the 2nd quarter of the past 13 years from 2006 to 2010 which I’ve decided to title “learning and developing” as I believe that’s when the majority of the mistakes were made and as a result a lot of learning took place to get where things are at today.

Starting in August 2006. Things had been growing well for a while and we had a variety of customers and a growing number of servers when I hit the first bump in the road when our data centre provider was not able to provide us with any more power to grow and the only choice we had was to make the first of a number of moves between data centres. I’d say this was the most challenging move even though it was the smallest with myself on crutches and relying on my parents who were being directed by me sitting in a camping chair on the data centre floor. To add to the problems there was no cart available in the data centre so all of the servers had to be moved from the rack to the car by hand. The journey 2 hours across London and out to Maidenhead was also plagued by a speed camera being set off and traffic lights which when you are trying to limit the length of downtime become all the more frustrating. Arriving at Bluesquare data centre in Maidenhead about 2AM we quickly racked things and checked they were online before finishing and getting home for about 6AM.

Moving forwards a few more months and into July 2007 it was time to get rid of the hideous template website I showed in the last post and on to this new masterpiece shown below which was all my own work when I went through a brief period of trying to get my Photoshop skills up to scratch. Needless to say that phase didn’t last long and I haven’t touched Photoshop in about 5 years now!

Despite having been in business for a few years this was also the first time we actually had a logo which looking back now is a little bit of an odd thing not to have for so many years. Once we had a logo I was then very reluctant to change it for many years through fear of losing our branding which looking back now is something I wish I had of caved in and changed sooner. Not too long after and with the business growing well I decided for the first time to use a 3rd party designer for a new custom website which again is shown below. I’ll leave it to you to determine which design they did!

Things were ticking over nicely by the end of 2007 and I had now finished sixth form and had to decide what to do with my life which being only 18 is still not something I would say most people know at that age. I contemplated joining the fire service, becoming a paramedic and last of all trying to make a career of my I.T. skills. I had been keen on the idea of going straight from 6th form to my own business full time however realistically I wasn’t making enough money and didn’t have a vision at that point on what I could turn it into. I instead opted into a course with Just I.T. in London which has shaped my whole career to where it is today.

The course came with a job guarantee with a minimum of a £16k salary however I was informed that because of my age they may struggle to meet this. Signing an agreement to this fact I enrolled on the course and before I could finish it I had 2 job interviews, both offering me a job on the same day and at £18k per year so I guess the recruitment agency had underestimated my skills and ability to sell myself already at 18 years old! I’m not a fan of “age is just a number” as age translates to experience however I believe that people in my early years only saw my age and not my experience. I took the job in an internal I.t. team at Douglas and Gordon who are an estate agents in London

So, I’m in a new job, commuting to London every day and getting well paid in my first job. My employer was very impressed with my work ethic and how much I was getting done for them when things took a bit of a bump. It was the start of the financial crisis and being involved in property it was one of the first industries to be hit and I was unfortunately made redundant 4 months into my job. Little did I know at the time that it was actually going to be one of the best things for my career as in under a week I had a new job offer on more money at Doherty I.T. solutions in Chiswick who are an outsourced I.t. company. What I know today and where I am I owe a lot of to the owner of the company Terry and my manager Dave who provided me with endless opportunities to learn and grow including travelling all around the world to support cruise ships.

VooServers continued to run as a hobby alongside my work in London and being happy with my job at Doherty I decided to try and sell it however after some offers of over £20k (Which for my age was very attractive as it was a deposit on a house) and numerous discussions a sale collapsed as I was struggling to offer enough time to ensure a smooth transition. Instead, I moved operations to a new data centre which had just opened in Sitingbourne which was only a few miles from home and allowed me to better service things in the evenings. This move although still only about 15 servers went much smoother than the previous move with me now holding a driving licence and being able to complete things fully myself. This was also our very first full rack and already things were bigger than I had imagined when I first came up with the concept of VooServers. I wasn’t really growing the business any more but things were ticking over nicely and it was a little bit of extra money every month so it was worthwhile to keep things running.

December 2009 comes around and more specifically the 25h of December. Yes, that’s Christmas Day! As I mentioned before running your own business takes of a lot commitment and sacrifices and nothing could be more true than having to respond to a call-out on Christmas day to fix a server which had a data breach. Luckily with now being only 10 minutes away it was certainly far easier than it would have otherwise been in Maidenhead. With a little bit of a sore head from the night before I set off to the data centre and luckily quickly fixed the server and headed back home to enjoy the rest of my Christmas.

May 2010 and 2 years into my job at Doherty with a lot more experience in I.T., business and life I decided it was time for a change. I mention life experience as in the short time with Doherty I had travelled to India, Oman, Egypt, Mali, Argentina, Barcelona, Hamburg and even down near Antarctica for work! I really enjoyed the job however I was travelling 20 hours per week to west London for a 37.5 hour job and there was a time limit on how long I could keep it up for. I decided to leave and with all the new experience in both I.T. and business, embarked on running VooServers full time to which both Terry and Dave were extremely supportive of and I still meeting up with them on occasion today.

We are now at 2010 and time to finish today’s part of the journey however I’d like to leave one more picture of probably the oddest place I have ever travelled to for work which was a gold mine in Mali. This was probably one of the most eye opening trips for work but also the most fun having travelled with 2 other colleagues to perform a migration of the entire mines infrastructure. You will have to excuse the quality as camera phones lenses at the time were not anywhere near where they are today!

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