Still Gainfully Employed

My one year anniversary at Business Objects silently passed by in June. With the constant hecticness at work (everyone is pushing hard to get our next big release out the door), I don’t think I’ve had time to reflect on my first year of permanent employment. By now I’m sure I’ve spent more than 2000 hours banging away at a keyboard, earning my salary by making words appear in the right order – sometimes my job seems so trivial – but I’ve enjoyed most of it.

UBC Ropes CourseI had my first annual performance review in July. I got a glowing review and a nice pay increase for my hard work over the past year. The recognition felt good, and although I don’t need to the money, I didn’t protest. I’ve managed to establish myself within the team and have been given quite a bit of responsibility. I’m looking forward to finishing off this release so we can start planning for the next release and I can take full ownership of a few features, but that seems a few months off yet.

Work isn’t all stress and hard work. On Friday we had a team Fun Day, which we spent team building and swinging Tarzan-style at the UBC Ropes Course. It was loads of fun and I did leave with stronger friendships with my teammates.

The green revolution that started at work last quarter seems to be gaining momentum, powered by some enthusiastic executives and loads of environmentally concious employees. At our last quarterly all-hands, we heard presentations about the latest environmental initiatives we’re taking on. There’s an effort to set up all the computers at work to hibernate when they’re not in use. This may seem silly at first, but almost everyone I know leaves their 2 computers on all the time (including overnight and on weekends). I turn mine off for the weekend, but it’s too much of a pain to try and shut it down on a daily basis. I’ve tried to hibernate it, but something on the LAN wakes it up after a few seconds. Supposedly a solution is in the works and will be rolled out to everyone’s computers soon. That initiative alone should save tons of electricity.

Think Before You Drink
Originally uploaded by Eva Marieville

The employee suggested initiatives were:
– Planting a tree for every million dollars of revenue the company makes. This one sounds like a PR stunt, but it will result over 1000 trees planted each year.
Thinking Outside The Bottle and removing bottled water from all the vending machines at work, providing all employees with an aluminium water bottle, and discouraging everyone from using bottled water. This was my favourite and it won the contest for an energy efficient fridge.
– A partnership with a local auto dealer and a credit union to provide discounts on Prius purchases and cheap financing. I have mixed feelings about this. Hybrids are definitely better than most cars, but it still means someone is driving instead of considering other forms of transportations.

The only other interesting part of the meeting (aside from the free lunch) was a Q&A question asking about Microsoft’s entrance in the local market and its affect on Business Objects. For now, it looks the company is taking a wait and see approach. The executive who answered assured us Microsoft was a good thing for the market in Vancouver because it will bring more people to Vancouver for tech jobs. He’s probably right, but I think they’ll be a bit more worried when loads of developers start jumping ship. Within the last month, I’ve seen two Waterloo grads, who started around the same time as me, quit and take jobs with Amazon, who pays almost $30,000 a year more. If Microsoft starts paying its Canadian developers the same as the developers in Redmond are making, either Business Objects is going to have to give big raises or watch as developers leave.

I’m still fascinated by the opportunity that Microsoft may present. I’ve said in the past if Microsoft was in Canada I’d work for them. Well now they are, so I guess I should at least consider it. It’s too bad they’ve decided to locate in a business park in Richmond – a black hole in terms of transit. I’m curious to see what kind of culture develops in their new office.

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