Unlikely as it sounds, a career in the Royal Navy has provided me with a variety of skills and abilities that perfectly suit a role in the software industry. What was less straightforward, however, was finding a company that offered a working environment that suited me.
When I left the Navy I did what everyone told me not to do and took the first job I was offered. Having decided to leave to find a position that could offer me what I was lacking – to feel more than just a small cog in a large machine – I found myself inside another huge organisation. Once again, it was difficult to feel like an individual rather than just a number and so, despite the work being enjoyable, I realised another change was in order.
It seems to make obvious sense that working for a smaller company allows people to broaden their skills set and work more independently, while feeling like they are making a valuable contribution every day. Working within a smaller team offers people the opportunity to develop strong working and personal relationships. Individuals within teams find themselves equally committed to achieving targets and this shared work ethic leads to better productivity. A real feeling of shared responsibility encourages people to support each other, keeping the quality of work high.
At 350 or so employees, CRITICAL Software isn't exactly small, but somehow the friendly feeling of a small business has been maintained. The engineers that work on the projects I manage are not faceless strangers but people that I know well and interact with on a daily basis.
In the year that I have worked at CRITICAL Software as a Project Manager, while remaining accountable for my own workload, I've been able to broaden my experience in a number of ways. This includes supporting the Sales team at conferences, lending my expertise to proposal documents and negotiations for new contracts, as well as contributing to press articles. Being able to work across different industries and on business or mission-critical projects is also brilliant. I may not be serving on the front line, but I'm definitely contributing to work that makes a big difference in the world.
It's usually easier in smaller companies to work more flexibly too because bureaucracy is less rigid, meaning individuals have the opportunity to expand their skills set by contributing to tasks outside their standard job description. Such extensive experience would not usually be available in a larger operation where resources are plentiful and people stick to their specific roles.
Not only does this add variety to the day, making work more enjoyable, but it also encourages people to become proactive and engage with tasks potentially outside of their comfort zone. In turn this helps an individual become more attractive to the wider employment market.
Another advantage is more ‘face time’ with senior management. This means that an individual's work-ethic, contributions and successes are seen by all. Career advancement is easier in a smaller organisation because everyone's unique abilities can be showcased and noticed.
It's the people who work in a company that make it great and something that sets CRITICAL Software apart from other companies is its understanding of this. This was perhaps the biggest draw for me – how I knew I'd found the right company I could really excel within. There's a real commitment to making sure all employees feel part of the bigger picture and receive more than just a pay cheque for contributing their time and expertise.
I couldn't quite believe it when I found out about 'FlexTime' – CRITICAL Software's flexible working scheme – and its support of employee home-working. Following long stretches of deployment for months on end, followed by frequent commutes between Scotland and Portsmouth, I knew I needed a job that offered a better work/life balance. In CRITICAL Software, I have found a company that offers an enjoyable, ambitious working environment with the freedom to manage my working schedule around my life. This allows me to adjust my working hours and location according to project needs and my own activities, which hugely contributes to my enjoyment of the role and my ability to achieve the best I can.To find out more about working at CRITICAL Software, visit the careers section of our website.