This is a shortened version of an about me. There have been around 8 different incarnations of Will Hall Online over the last 7-8 years, each representing a different episode. It is not really book worthy (at the moment), however, this tries to give some overview to changes and what that means.
I am Will, I like computers. Most of the day (and some of the night) I am involved with one kind of software project or another. I am currently involved in Docker, DevOps, Infrastructure as Code (Terraform) Configuration Management (mainly using Ansible) and software architecture. I work at HeleCloud as DevOps Consultant. I live in Cambridge, UK.
I have had an active interest in computers from around 8-10 when I first adopted a Commodore 64 from my aunt. Since then I have probably had and taken apart (broken) and fixed a whole bunch of computers. When I think back to my first interface with computers, it was a lot of waiting, using cassettes to load games (and being amazed by the amound I could save on a 5 1⁄2 floppy disk).
Times have changed, I have changed and software has changed, but I always try to retain the interest in seeing how things work and trying to be able to automate and process data and solutions.
I think the initial Will Hall Online was when I was at university studying for my MSc IT in Leeds, UK. At the time I had been involved in IT for around 5 years but operating in an IT Support, Application Support and Database Administrator Role. Will Hall Online was realistically a sideline from my other interests (playing music) whilst I was studying. It turns out (unsurprisingly) that is is far easier to make money building web applications than it is playing music. And before I had completed my studies I had already secured a job near Cambridge working for a software/hardware company near St Neots.
The big shift came in 2012, when I decided to go full time into self employment and Will Hall Online. Anyone who has taken this decision knows of some of the risks. I like to think that I mitigated some of the risks by starting out with a bunch of existing contracts and clients.
Growing a business from self employment to a proper company is not necessarily easy. And it is almost never a one-person show.
I had the priviledge of working with some great other small businesses and self employed people and also took on employees. The names are many, but the stand out ones to me have been; Andrew and Paul, who took a chance on a small guy; Keith, who helped secure clients when we first grew; Ryan, who took over the majority of development and supported at key times; Emily, Natalia and … who helped professionalise the business. However, the biggest impact was Stephanie who took the reigns as MD of Hallneg and managed to wrangle all of us to supporting the business and clients.
Becoming Hallneg Ltd and growing the business from just myself and Stephanie to 8 people at one point (and some additional contractors) was both very exciting and challenging. I honestly feel that I learnt a lot about both myself and running a business over my time. I did accounts, recruitment for jobs that I knew very little about. I filled tax returns and worked on marketing, sales and admin.
We certainly had a number of successes of which I have been immensly proud. We worked with some high-profile clients on some ambitious projects. Continued relationships over the whole period with various businesses and grew and changed as a company. We also started a (free) training school, which was really fun, and won an award from it.
However, over time, the shape of development changed. I think that web development has evolved over my time from being an IT centered business to a marketing centrered business.
Moving on from a business that you have helped create and grow is not an easy thing to do. It becomes something that takes a part of you with it. However, there are also compelling reasons to leave when the time is right. Overall, leaving Hallneg was both a challenge and also very exciting.
Over time working at Hallneg became very much about feeding the machine. If you are not familiar with the term, is is the nature that you are working, just to keep the machine (in this example the business) alive. Along the way you have to make both compromises on the work that you carry out and have a changing role.
By leaving Hallneg, I would have time to pursue other interests including:
Working at Sealed Air Corporation gave me the space to do that and I enjoyed if fully. It was filled with some very challenging times (I remember vividly having nightmares about the chaos of digital development when I started).
My time at Sealed Air was curtailed slightly with the decision to separate Diversey as a separate business, however, this presented another new opportunity. Separation of all digital properties and cloud accounts, and it was something that I was in control of the technical aspects of. To date, I would say that was one of the most lengthy and sucessful projects as it was delivered on time, for less budget than expected and only had downtime of around 48 hours for th 200-ish applications across 25,000 users.
Alongside this, I also became a Docker Community Leader in July 2017 and have taken over the running of the Cambridge, UK, Docker Meetup. I would love you to come along.
That brings us up to today, or when I say today, I mean the time of writing. I recently worked for CyanConnode on IoT platforms. And now I work for HeleCloud as a DevOps Consultant, offering both practical techniques and tools to businesses to improve their DevOps journey. You can see that I am still doing speaking and writing although Will Hall Online now has no clients anymore who I operate maintenance for (phew!). Have a look at the blog for some of the things I am working on.
… Who knows…