My World Tour: Part Two
Next stop: Bratislava, London and Bristol. After a week of meetings with the development and QA teams in Slovakia (the fruits of which you’ll be seeing in our 1H 2018 product releases), Alan and I flew back to London via Vienna, with a sightseeing stop in Bratislava. One key thing I learned: on British Airways flights, the cabin crew will absolutely not let you stow your laptop bag, backpack, etc. under the seat in front of you if you’re in the exit row. (The plane we were on also was innocent of in-seat power or entertainment, nor did it have wifi, but that’s beside the point.) We arrived at Heathrow, cleared customs, and bought tickets on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Then a longish Tube ride and we were at Moorgate station, close both to our office and the hotel I’d booked. I was dead tired so grabbed dinner from a nearby sushi restaurant then collapsed into bed.
I’d asked Alan to pick out a few touristy things for me—I’d been briefly to the UK back in 2007 but didn’t get to do much other than see Westminster and the surrounding area. We met at the hotel and walked over to the Museum of London, where I learned a ton about London (example: the Queen or King is not allowed in the boundaries of the City of London without permission from the Lord Mayor!). When we arrived, we noticed several groups of soldiers who appeared to be marshaling for a parade. Sure enough, we had wandered into the Lord Mayor’s Show, an annual event commemorating the election of the Lord Mayor and featuring a large parade. Since we were near St Paul’s Cathedral, we stayed to watch the processional. It was quite different to a typical US parade, or at least the ones I’m used to seeing—the running order featured groups such as the Worshipful Company of Grocers, and the overall atmosphere was more one of a procession than a riot. I quite enjoyed it. After that, we went to Borough Market (which I highly recommend) and then to explore a few of London’s excellent breweries.On Sunday, the newly-formed Quadrotech running team ran the After Adoption Regents’ Park 10K charity race. I was by far the slowest, but arguably I was the one who enjoyed the race the most—never having been to Regents’ Park before I was content to enjoy the race as a slightly-faster-than-usual training run and not an all-out blast.The London office houses much of the former Cogmotive staff; like the Slovak offices, it’s an open plan office where developers are thrown in with marketing and management coworkers. Unlike the Slovak offices, our London office features a vending machine, which made it a little easier for me to get my daily ration of diet Coke. (Fun note: I saw very little diet Coke in either Slovakia or London; Coca Cola seems to be focusing its marketing and sales efforts on Coke Zero.) After a full day of meetings in London, the next day I met Alan and Heather, our ace marketing manager, at Paddington Station to take the train to Bristol, where our other UK office is located.
To get from the station to the Bristol office, you drive past an enormous Rolls Royce jet engine factory. I learned later that there’s a museum on the grounds, which I fully intend to visit on another trip. The Bristol office seemed much closer to a typical tech-company office in the US— most of the staff are in small two-person offices tucked into an anonymous building in a fairly drab office park. I was surprised by an impromptu birthday party, as the day we were there was my birthday. My team went all out and provided a Colin the Caterpillar cake, which I had to have explained to me and which I enjoyed no less for my ignorance.Bristol’s about a 90-minute train ride from London, so after a full day of meetings we took the train back to London and went our separate ways—I was off to a hotel at Heathrow to await my flight home the next morning. My flight went perfectly well, except that I learned that spending miles to upgrade to Delta’s fancy Delta ONE service might not make sense because their lie-flat beds are too small for me. The view couldn’t be beat though.Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to both our operations in the UK and Slovakia—the initial visits made me mindful of how much I have yet to learn but I am energized by the enthusiasm and drive I saw from the teams and I look forward to a great year in 2018!