Visiting Our London Office

I had a connection in London on my way to Dublin, and when I was planning my trip, I decided to make it a day in the office. I exchanged my tickets so that I arrive in London at 9-10 and leave at 8-50 PM.

It would be all good if not for the tube strike right on that day! But it was too late to make any changes! And in any case, I do not regret making this stop, although it entailed two two-and-a-half-hour rides from/to Heathrow. I spent about five hours in the office, met a lot of people with whom I work closely together, answered their questions, and solved half of the world ‘s problems! I loved the London office:

The office is smaller, so they do not cater, and everybody places their food orders, and then orders are delivered by noon. Since I was not there in the morning, I had to look for the sandwich supplies in the fridge. Overall, it was a little bit hungry day: I ate breakfast in the Finnair lounge at 6-30 Helsinki time, and next time I had some food at noon of London time! And then – at 7-30 PM in Heathrow!

My New Life

I didn’t blog after returning from NYC, as if nothing was happening. But in reality, I have an amazing time. Every day at work is both learning and sharing my knowledge and finding more ways to collaborate with people and contribute.

People here are incredibly smart. I also worked with smart people in EDB, but the difference is that people are more collaborative, more open, and more diverse in terms of skill sets here. There is a multitude of problems I can work on, so I am never idle.

I like that I am in the office, but at the same time, the flexibility is endless. Some people work from home all the time, some come to the office several times a week, and some are in the office every day. Everybody feels comfortable taking a couple of hours here and there to address personal matters, and the rest of the team works around that.

I also like that life in the city is returning to what it used to be before the pandemic. I didn’t believe it when many people said employees would be back in the office after Labor Day, but it looks like it. I hope that with more traffic in the city, more places will reopen.

I was at the CSO on Tuesday, then on Wednesday, Igor and I went to a sushi place and then to Siskel Center to celebrate his birthday. Today, there was a Fall party at work, which was also fun.
My new company agreed to host Chicago PUG, and the first meetup will happen on October 18. I am happy, nervous, and excited!

The only thing which does not exactly go as planned is that I have absolutely no time to work on my next conference presentations, so I will have to have a working weekend to accomplish his task, or at least to get it closer to accomplishment:)

The War Is Everywhere

It is indeed everywhere, it’s not like there is nothing but the war on my mind, but whatever I do, whatever other people are doing – the war is in the background, the war is visible, and the news about the war shape the news broadcasts everywhere in the world. 

I mentioned the other day what my neighbor said about Tosca. It turned out that it was not just her or me, but that was the intention. Last Saturday, the opening night of Tosca started from the Ukrainian Anthem, and the cast dedicated that performance to the struggles and courage of the Ukrainian people. 

Yesterday, one of my coworkers mentioned in the speaker’s slack channel that the PG Day Poland was postponed. People started to talk about how it is sad but understandable and started to ask what is the new date. Then another person (the one I respect a lot) said: it’s a little surreal to me that people are being bombed, and we’re talking about it in terms of the impact on our conference schedule. 

This conversation triggered something for me. For the past several days, watching the stream of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland and Poles going out of their way to accommodate them, I thought that my “historical Motherland” needed some financial assistance. 

 During that conversation on slack which I mentioned earlier, somebody said: you should reach out to A. to find out the details [about the PG Day Poland]. And then my immediate reaction was: why I never thought about reaching out to her on the subject of donations? 

She was indeed delighted when I reached out and said that Poland is “out of everything,” warned about the fake charities, and gave me a vetted list of trustworthy charities that assist refugees’ resettlement.

For now, I plan to give 2/3 of my donations directly to Ukraine and 1/3 to this Polish resettlement agency I chose. 

Then, I was terrified by the news about the potential peace proposal from this BBC news program. It sounds so evil that I can believe this could happen! President Zelinskiy cares about the Ukrainian people, and he can go a long way to stop the bloodshed. But what will happen if peace in Ukraine is achieved at such a price? Looking at what the Russian government is saying these days, and knowing Putin, you can bet he would announce such peace as Russia’s victory. We wanted to liberate the Russian people in Ukraine, and we did! We wanted to stop NATO expansion, and we did! And we got a Crimea! And things are going our way! If the condition of the peace would be disarmament of Ukraine, it is an insult to the heroic Ukrainian army and all her people, and what will stop Putin from repeating the attack? And most importantly, he would emerge from this war unpunished! And that would be the most unjust thing, and I do not want to let it happen.

My New Home Office

The first thing (literally) they told me before I even signed the offer letter was about the home office setup allowance. I could (and should have) spent $500 on the office furniture, and that’s not counting external monitors, cables, etc.

Boris told me I should get an adjustable desk. I told him (one more time) that I do not like working standing, but he said that the adjustable desk would be good for me. I asked Anna what she would get for the home office, and she was: Mom, get a standing desk! – Are you guys related or what?!

Then, there was a long story of choosing all of the components, and then they started to arrive separately! I was hoping that all the parts would arrive while Boris was still here, but this didn’t happen. The tabletop arrived after he left, and FedEx just dumped it on the grass by the front door. Thankfully, Anna and her family came a day later, and they carried the door to my apartment, but they had no time to assemble it. 

When Vlad visited unexpectedly, I was more than happy to see him, but my next thought was: oh, he is here for just a short while, he won’t be able to assemble a desk for me. And you know what? He and Dylon found the time to assemble the desk, install the monitor arm, disassemble the old desk, bring it (and all the packaging of the new desk) down, and put the old desk on Craig’s list! That was a real gift! Almost better than Nancy Pelosi candle 🙂

So – What Happened?

It has been three weeks with EDB for me and four weeks since I left my previous job. In private conversations, I was pretty open about why I left my previous job, being there for less than half a year – the shortest tenure in my professional life.

My peers who are not very close to me reacted to my new position without giving it a second thought, just commenting, “you belong there.” But my close friends knew how excited I was to start with my previous company and how I was saying to everybody that I dreamed about working with this person again for the past ten years. They wondered what had happened.

In short: they started to be rude and disrespectful to me. Multiple issues started almost from the first day of my employment, varying from the business model to specific technical solutions. But none of it would rise to a tipping point. I always expected and welcomed productive discussions, especially with smart people – when it would be indeed a discussion, not humiliation. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that those were not isolated incidents, and it was not like I said something wrong or did something wrong. It took me a while to stop finding excuses, thinking that a person may be stressed out and that it was my fault that I didn’t remember or didn’t understand what I was told to do. It was very difficult to initiate conversations when the other party did not express any desire to talk; it was very difficult to ask a simple question: why you treat me differently now?

Finally, when I said: you are yelling at me! I got a reply: yes, I yell at you because you are not listening to me! And “because” was a pivotal word. There can’t be any “because,” there is no justification for yelling at people.

I reached out to my friend who wanted me to join his organization for many years and told him that I was available if he still wanted me. And then things moved fast. The conversations I had were about which department I should go to. Since I wanted to move fast, I went to the department with immediate openings. Three and a half weeks after our first conversation, I received a written offer and resigned immediately. It was Wednesday before the Thanksgiving. On Monday, I came to the office to drop off my laptop and pick up my stuff.

Theoretically, I had a week off between two jobs, but practically I had no time. On December 1, I went to the conference, and that day was my first day with the new company. I had to redo my presentation to have the new company template, and I had to do a million HR-related things. Also, I didn’t have a proper onboarding – it started a week later, and my new laptop arrived only on the sixth day of my employment, all this with cookies and cards in between :).

I was hesitant to write about all of this, but then I decided that somebody should talk about emotional abuse in the workplace. At least, somebody should start this conversation. I am incredibly sorry that I lost the professional relationships so important to me for many years. I am sad that things didn’t play the way I was hoping for. But I am also glad that I was not stuck in this situation. It’s amazing how many people do nothing finding themselves in similar situations and resolve just “to survive.” I hope that my story will encourage others not to put up with such situations.

What’s Going On At Work

I do not have any time off in December, and I even found out today that December 31 will be a workday. Well, hopefully, I will be able to accomplish something! Although I didn’t do any billable hours yet, there are so many things to do! I still need to install tons of tools on my laptop, learn about proprietary products and go over many hours of training.

I believe that all ethic training combined took around twenty hours. But after all that happened to me this fall, I will never complain about things like that, nor I would ever call such training “stupid.” Now I know how important it is to have a policy in place.

The policy training courses are not very complicated; it just takes time. But I do not even know how to proceed with all the products training. It feels like another sixty hours, at least!

Meanwhile, I shadowed one of the consultants, and I was surprised to see that I could add value to his analysis. These are the two main trends in how I feel about work now: overwhelmed by the amount of learning I still have to do and the surprising impact I can make. It’s not like any other job I had before, and I am still trying to put in words what’s the difference.

It’s for the first time in my life that I work in a truly worldwide company. I never know at which part of the world my tech support ticket will be picked up, and I know that it does not happen because the labor in the other parts of the world is cheaper. It happens because talent is everywhere. That’s the company with no juniors; each individual is outstanding. It’s an honor to be a part of that team.

Goodbye, Previous Job!

Yesterday was my last day at Braviant Holdings, and I had a Farewell Party. It turned out it was close to impossible to reserve a space anywhere in the Loop without a substantial deposit. If it weren’t for Vlad, who still knows everybody in the hospitality business, I would be miserable. But because of his connections, we ended up having a corner in Miller’s pub and had a great time.
I am very thankful for the people who came out to see me off in person!

The Soft Start

Friday was my “soft start” in the new company. I needed to start before July 1 to be eligible for medical coverage starting from August 1. It will still be three weeks on no coverage, but at least I will be insured for the next stage of my dental work.

First, Chad wanted me to “start” on June 30 and not bill eight hours of my work. But I told him that since we have “summer Fridays,” and I still have some unused PTO, I can just take half-Friday off and come to his office and make a full workday. It ended up being a great idea since it turned out their HR will be off the week before the holidays. So on Friday, I submitted all my paperwork and was onboarded. I had a badge to enter the building even earlier, so now it’s funny that I work at two places simultaneously. I joked with Boris that now there is no way back, “the marriage certificate is issued,” and Boris told me there was no way back a long time ago.

I am not saying it’s pure joy. I need to do a lot of convincing work with my new coworkers and my new boss, but I am ready for that. I know that I need to understand how exactly my work impacts the company’s financial prosperity. And I love that feeling when the SQL you deployed in production yesterday affects today’s bottom line 🙂

The Message Which I Left To My Co-workers Today

Since we are celebrating Black History Month, I wanted to pass along some information about Chicago Neighborhoods. 

During the past year, several co-workers asked me about different Chicago neighborhoods, especially about their safety. I always have an uneasy time answering these questions because “safety” had become a loaded word in general, and especially in Chicago. The reality is more complicated than dichotomy safe/not safe, and for a while, I was thinking about ways to show these complexities in a way that would be easier than reading volumes of history books. 

My older son, who is a contributing reporter for Austin Weekly, has put together a list of articles that talk about different Chicago neighborhoods, their history, stigmas, and much more. 

Let’s talk about neighborhood stigma
Chicago and race: perception, polling, and reality
Urban Renewal and Gentrification in Chicago
Best of the SouthSide
Differential Pathways of Neighborhood Change and Perceived Neighborhood Reputation
The Woodlawn’s future

I am aware that nobody likes clicking the links, especially non-technical ones, but is it challenging to come up with a short essay on a complex topic. I hope you will find these links useful and educational and make this Black History Month more meaningful. 

P.S. I had received a record number of thanks!

P.P.S. Igor, if you will still be able to come up with something more compact, it would be great.

Office Dynamics

Thursday was the first day when we had three people in the office at the same time. By then, I made two more kitchen improvements. First, I plastered the sign “DOES NOT WORK” on the front of the Nespresso Machine. Otherwise, everybody coming to the office for the first time is trying to use it and just waists a pod or two.

Second, I bought a Brita water dispenser. Our water coolers are taped, and initially, our HR purchased bottled water, but it is all gone, and nobody is reordering.

First, I wanted to buy a pitcher, but then I saw that this water dispenser cost the same, and decided that it will be better when there is more than one person in the office. Here is it, and I instructed everybody not to let it dry!

Also, for the first time after six months, I have two meetings next week scheduled with an in-office option. I could not believe my eyes 🙂