It’s time for a bit of a change. I’ve been freelancing in one form or another for nearly four years, and I’ve done all kinds of things for all kinds of people. I’ve launched apps, redesigned sites, organised a conference and learned a hell of a lot along the way. All in all it’s not a bad life, but one thing I do miss is working as part of a great team of people.
So in a couple of weeks, I’m joining Centralway AG in Zurich as the iOS lead running their team building Numbrs.
Earlier in my career, I spent a lot of time working in various places around Europe, and despite my typically British lack of language skills I loved it. Having to get along with people who have a whole different set of cultural assumptions and working practices knocks some of the corners off you. It makes you realise that the way of doing things that you grew up with isn’t necessarily the only way of looking at the world.
And (hopefully) that kind of experience makes you a better person overall. It’s not for me to judge if any of that was true in my case, of course.
Another factor in the decision is something that’s been nagging at me for a long time. We British have a strange and very unhealthy attitude to Europe, and it worries me deeply. We’re a small island off the coast of a large continent. For a very long time we’ve been living on the afterglow of empire, and a fortunate accident of history that’s left our native language as one of the global linga francas.
That’s not a combination of assets that’s going to secure our future in the long-term. One day, the rest of Europe might just take us at our increasingly eurosceptic words, and turn their backs on us. And then we’ll really be screwed, and probably deserve it.
So this move is partly driven by me putting my money where my mouth is. I think the UK’s future – the only viable future – is as part of a larger European grouping. The organisation I’m joining has Europe-wide ambitions. So put those factors together, and this suddenly looks like a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
In some respects it’s pretty scary – my German is shockingly bad, my Swiss German even worse. All of a sudden you realise how much of daily life you take for granted – knowing how local bureacracy functions, or what the tiny unspoken everyday rules of behaviour are.
Of course it helps that I’m moving to a place with the highest standard of living on the planet, and doing so while working in an industry which pays obscenely well by most objective standards. But you can put up with an awful lot if you’ve got a positive bank balance and the trains run on time…