Behind every team is a long list of passions, projects and hobbies. At Seccl, we like to bring them to the forefront, by making learning part of business as usual. Here we take a look at what some of us have been getting up to in the classroom…
Or so they say. Although if you’re a parent trying to get your kids to concentrate on your hastily concocted home schooling curriculum right now, you probably wish it wasn’t.
But while tireless parents up and down the country struggle to get their kids to study during lockdown, we thought we’d explore a more positive – and more permanent – feature of life here at Seccl. We all love to learn.
“I encourage everyone – myself included – to spend 10% of their working time learning,” says Sam Handfield-Jones, co-head of Seccl. “And by that I mean doing something – anything – that enhances your understanding, introduces you to a new way of thinking or doing things, or hones your skills. It’s why we offer everyone a free subscription to Udemy.”
So should your learning be related to your job, then? “Sure, it can be. But I also think you should look beyond your niche and broaden your knowledge as much as possible”, Sam added. “Very rarely have I learnt something in one field that I haven’t been able to apply to another – and often this can give you the edge, as everyone else is busy ‘staying in their lane’.”
This support for learning is one of the first things you’ll notice about Seccl. Even if you’ve joined during lockdown – like a staggering 25% of us! – and haven’t even set foot in the office yet…
Speaking of lockdown – has that affected our learning habit? Well, while it’s easy to let those extra commuting minutes (or hours) drift into the general working day, many of us are trying to use it to focus on learning something new.
Some, like Annabel, one of our account executives, are rekindling past passions. “I was really into DJing at uni, so I’ve been doing a lot of that – perhaps two hours a day. I play lo-fi house mostly, but I like any electronic music.
“I’ve also been doing a Python data analytics course with Udemy; it’ll definitely prove useful in serving clients, not to mention generating insights that we can use within the business. It’s not what I expected to be doing when I joined Seccl as a history grad, but I find all the tech projects I get to deal with here fascinating.”
Speaking of tech, some of us are using the extra time we have in lockdown to really stretch our skills. “I’ve started building a voice command device – think Alexa or Google Home – using a Raspberry Pi. It’s going to have Brian Blessed’s voice,” says Sam, one of our server side engineers.
Rhymes, our server-side lead, has been experimenting with some other home technology, too. He’s started building an app to keep all his recipes in one place (you can follow his progress here) – as well as installing his own 3D printer. “So far I’ve made loads of boxes, a tugboat, a Pikachu and a slingshot for my son, Joey.”
“I’ve also been playing UNO with the kids every lunchtime and I’d say I’m very close to turning pro. I’m thinking of setting up a league when I get back into the office,” he added – giving the distinct impression that a few of us can expect to be thrashed at UNO in the near future.
While hustling people at UNO might not be encouraged, having the odd side hustle definitely is. From setting up businesses on the side, to volunteering in community projects, everyone at Seccl has the opportunity to develop their skills outside of the day-to-day requirements of their role.
JJ, a bizops analyst at Seccl, has his sights set on Africa: “There are a few projects I’d like to do, particularly raising capital for small businesses in Africa. I’m already doing this through producing clothing, selling this and reinvesting it into the community fund.
“My ultimate goal is to build a community for entrepreneurial people in Africa. My dissertation was on crowdfunding possibilities in Africa, and the research I conducted for that got me hooked on the opportunities there.”
For some, the work that helped them get a foot in the door at Seccl remains bubbling away. Take Rhymes, for example: “I run a website for a kids’ shoe shop in Bristol that my friend owns. It was the first thing I built straight out of coding bootcamp – and I used this to get my job at Seccl. I had no CV and no other coding experience (I changed careers after working for the NHS), so I just gave Dave (our co-founder) a link to my Github.”
Others’ side projects are literally out of this world. “Most of my time is spent at the computer working on lots of personal data projects”, says Anna, a server-side engineer and data analyst. “I’m currently building a machine learning classifier of exoplanets, using data from the Kepler telescope. I’m modelling the information to help identify whether the ‘thing’ that the telesecope has identified is an exoplanet or not”, says Anna,
And they’re all following a well-trodden path. Several ex-Secclers have transformed their side hustles into main hustles – like Niv Subramanian, our former Head of Product, who has now left to work full-time on her carbon footprint spending tracker, Economyz.
Because while it’s always sad to see colleagues leave, it’s also really heartening when they take what they’ve learned and use it to start (or continue) their own venture.
Rebecca Harvey, our Head of People, sums it up well. “We look for people who are curious by nature. They always do well at Seccl.
“We value learning, and we’ve built a team who share this desire to constantly develop themselves and learn new things. It’s all part of seeing people as a combination of all their experiences, not just what’s on their CV.
“But to work well, learning can’t be forced on people. We just want to create the environment and provide the tools that allow our natural curiosity flourish. And it also doesn’t have to be formal or tech-focused. For example, I’m using my extra time during lockdown to learn cricket in the garden!
“At the end of the day, we want everyone at Seccl to be able to reflect back on any time they spend here – whether they choose to move on, set up their own thing, or advance within the business – and feel like they’ve grown as a person.”
If this has sparked your own curiosity, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our careers page to see our open roles. And even if none of them look totally right, we’d still love to hear from you. Just get in touch with Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org – and start the conversation!
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