in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #109 — Foam party

My F1 qualifying companion

My F1 qualifying companion

A week of two halves, or more accurately one fifth and four-fifths. Monday was Human Rights Day in South Africa (reflecting the date of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960), so half of my colleagues were out of the office and I had a clear diary. On Tuesday the meetings started early, and for the rest of the week I had barely any time where I wasn’t in some video call or other, and I felt the pressure to use the small gaps productively.

The boys and my wife are now off school for two weeks for their Easter holidays. I’m taking Thursday and Tuesday off to get a longer break as well, and I’m looking forward to being away from the keyboard for a bit.

My wife got her first COVID-19 vaccination on Sunday, which I am ever so grateful for. She went on her own and said that the process was super-efficient, with tons of volunteers helping to guide people through the vaccination centre. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I join her.

This was a week in which I:

  • Attended a meeting with a vendor in Beijing to try to close out on the new local Helpdesk staffing contract.
  • Spent some time preparing material for our first local IT architecture governance authority meeting. I’m looking forward to sharing where we are, how we got here and where we plan to head next.
  • Attended a number of meetings related to the big group programme that I am getting involved with. Every meeting reveals something new, and we are slowly piecing together a picture of how the work may unfold. One of the brilliant things about working where I do is the access we get to senior leaders, who invariably will take the time to go through materials and answer questions. I’m taking advantage of it.
  • Spent time with one of our teams to take them through the more nuanced and detailed aspects of Kanban, including why work in process limits are useful and how the unit of delivery is the team.
  • Heard about two members of staff who will be leaving the company in the next few weeks. They’ll be missed, but it’s great for them that they are moving onto the next chapters in their adventures.
  • Attended a couple of what used to be known as ‘town hall’ meetings, one for our global IT and Operations function, and another focused on our business outside of Africa.
  • Caught up with a couple of our key vendors in London.
  • Attended an excellent presentation on Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM) and saw a demo of a tool we are now using to manage our address spaces.
  • Had a ‘random coffee’ with a colleague from China who grew up in South Africa and lived in Dubai before coming to work in our Beijing office.
  • Took part in our monthly São Paulo IT and Real Estate Services governance meeting.
  • Used LinkedIn to ask for help for the first time. With a little help from a repost by my brother, it yielded some results which I am now following up with.
  • Had the honour of being given a ‘Mark of Excellence’ award at work. Somebody must have nominated me, and it was a total surprise to receive it during the global IT webinar presentation. I feel a bit uncomfortable with individual recognition as now more than ever the work we do is as a team, but I am flattered to be on the roll with others who have done amazing work this past year. The next day, a lovely small hamper arrived which I already made significant progress in consuming.

Food hampers are always welcome here

Food hampers are always welcome here

  • Attended our school Full Governing Board meeting. We were done in under two hours; remote meetings have definitely made us more efficient and I am hoping we can continue with them in some capacity once the coronavirus threat has abated. We started the meeting with a short safeguarding quiz which was both fun and useful.
  • Met with our personal financial advisor to check in on how we are doing with our savings towards our retirement. I’ve realised that I’m possibly halfway between the start of my career and the end of it.
  • Had smart electricity and gas meters fitted at home. It’s quite something to see how much energy we have used before we even come down for breakfast.
  • Booked in a washing machine repair after it decided to host its own version of a nightclub foam party.
  • Had a slow start to my fitness activities for the week. I wanted to rest on Monday and then on Tuesday my meetings started too early to fit anything in beforehand. I made up for it from Wednesday onwards, culminating in my first outdoor bike ride in nine months on Saturday. It was great to get out and my speed was good, but I felt just a teeny bit broken for the rest of the weekend.

  • Loved watching the Bahrain GP kick off the new Formula One season. It’s a busy calendar this year with 23 races planned, so I can’t quite believe we have to wait three weeks for the next one!

Next week: A three-day working week and our teenager’s second birthday in lockdown.

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