This week, after over 3 and a half years, I left Alfresco. The decision to leave was a difficult one, but ultimately, it’s the right move for both the company and me.
My connection with Alfresco goes back further than the recent years working for the company. Back in 2010, while working at Yell, I was part of a team tasked with creating a knowledge base based on (the now deprecated) Alfresco Web Content Management. It’s fair to say that 10 years ago, I wasn’t exactly enamoured with the software.
Spent the whole day chasing down #alfresco problems. Rapidly falling out of love with it. Could be argued that I was never in love with it.— Steve Bennett (@stevebennett) September 29, 2010
Although we made it to production, the project wasn’t a success. Eventually, we dropped the feature from Yell.com and shut down the services.
Fast forward to August 2011, and I’d obviously felt that I had something to give to the Alfresco team. I applied and interviewed with Gavin Cornwell (not sure he remembers this though) for a Senior Engineering position. I made it through the phone interview; however, things didn’t work out, and I didn’t end up joining.
Instead, I joined eBay and then moved onto Marks and Spencer. By this time, I’d stepped away from coding day-to-day and was forging a career as an Engineering Manager. In May 2016, I made the decision that M&S wasn’t going to be the right place for me long-term and started to look for my next role.
I’d been following Alfresco throughout the previous 5 years - as an open-source software product company on my doorstep, it was always interesting to see where they were headed. To my surprise and joy, I found that they were recruiting for Engineering Managers. I interviewed, got an offer and then joined in July 2016.
The next three years were a whirlwind of development and learning. I attempted to move my thinking from delivery of evergreen e-commerce websites to enterprise on-premise application software. It was a steep learning curve and I’m grateful to all those on the team that helped me along the way.
It's almost a year since I joined @Alfresco.— Steve Bennett (@stevebennett) July 20, 2017
In that year, I've learnt that teams shipping non-web software have some pretty big challenges.
Over this time, I moved from Engineering Manager to VP of Engineering for the Platform Engineering team. I worked with this team to increase the cadence of releases, increasing automation and reducing the amount of time spent on manual release validation.
I was also present through many changes of leadership at the company, this included the sale to Thomas H. Lee Partners and a couple of changes of CEO. Throughout all these changes, the team I worked with remained focused on improving the Alfresco Content Service and Governance Services products.
I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout this journey. Special thanks to Brian Remmington, the ultimate in positivity and deep thinking, John Newton, founder and true visionary, and Mario Romano, a driven leader always pushing for excellence.
Latterly, Tony Grout joined the team as CPO and helped me develop new insights and understandings of running an Engineering team.
Over my time at Alfresco, I’ve also worked with many of the founding engineers, and I am grateful for the education they gave me.
But most of all, I want to thank the Alfresco Engineering team. The team I was part of is made up of many incredible developers, testers, ops engineers, agile coaches and managers. As well as those employed directly by Alfresco, I was fortunate to work with an excellent team of engineers in Iași, Romania.
So, what’s next?
First, I’m taking a month off. After 13 years of continuous work, I need to an extended break before heading into my next role. I plan to do some coding (for fun!), running and reading, and hopefully meet up with some of the people I’ve not spoken to in a while.
Once I’m fully recharged, I’ll be joining Stash as an Engineering Manager, helping them build out their UK Engineering team. It’s an exciting opportunity to join an already successful team on a new venture, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of kick-starting Engineering in Reading for the company.