A fond farewell to the O2 family

When thinking about leaving, my initial thoughts are sadness. I absolutely love my job here at The Lab.  Since joining O2 four years ago, I’ve learnt more than I ever could have imagined. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some world-class professionals. Without their mentorship I wouldn’t be where I am today; so to those people, I thank you.

My story

From when I was a young kid, I knew that I wanted to do something in IT field; I just didn’t know what exactly. I was at school and I always had interest in computers: taking them apart, playing games on them, networking, running forums, all sorts.

But I knew that I wasn’t really keen on staying in education after secondary school and I wanted to get my hands dirty and really learn a technical/IT trade.  College was always a ‘Plan B’ for me.

My story with The Lab began in 2012, when I was 14 years old. I did a week’s work experience with The Lab and I was invited back that summer during my holiday for another week.

Fast forward two and a half years. I’d finished my GCSE’s and applied to the Talentum programme. After the many calls, interviews and the assessment centre I found out I was successful! Out of over 1200 applicants I was 1 of 12 chosen. I was also the youngest and had no A-Levels. To say that I was ecstatic and mind-blown would be an understatement.

I was given a permanent position as an Apprentice in The Lab due to my previous work experience. I was over the moon.

The Apprentice

I was given a choice at The Lab as to what I wanted to learn. After learning about the Ruby programming language during my work experience I decided that I’d like to learn more about that. I was paired with Karl Turner and for the next year or so I was under his wing learning all about Ruby, Rails, web applications, virtualisation, encryption, API’s, iOS – literally anything he was looking at I wanted to learn. I would also do course work once a week in order to work to gaining two A-Levels.

After two years I graduated from my apprenticeship with my A-Levels.  And I continued working at The Lab.

During my last four years at O2 I have grown as a person. This experience has given me the confidence and expertise I need to build the life I want for myself. I’m now a skilled engineer who works dynamically in many areas of IT.

New ventures

When thinking about leaving for my new venture, I’m also excited as to what the future holds. I’ve been day-dreaming about this a lot.

My next venture is my own ‘foodtech’ business. It’s called Walkin. Our goal is to kill long queues at non-bookable restaurants in major cities – starting with London. I always wanted to be a big part of something big. The phrase I like to use is that at the moment I’m a little cog in the big O2 Machine. With my own venture I’ll be a big cog in a little machine that, hopefully, I can turn into a big one.

We’re releasing an app that allows diners to queue at restaurants near them remotely. Essentially this means diners don’t have to stand in line for hours but can instead walk straight into the restaurant when their place is ready. There are always challenges running a business, and a lot of heated discussions with other directors. But at the end of the day we’re all on the same page wanting to achieve the same goal and I truly believe we will succeed.

Our initial focus will be the core product and its features. As we grow I will take more of a technical director role helping shape the digital future for our business.

I’ve been working on this venture on the side at weekends and after O2 time for about a year now. It can be pretty hard balancing a full-time job, a side business, and friends and family. I’ve had to compromise in some areas, one of them being sleep.

Learning at The Lab

The Lab has helped me to develop – in both a technical sense as well as professionally and personally. My experience with The Lab has taught me most of what I know to date. Without my time in The Lab my tech venture would not be happening. I’ve made so many great friends and contacts at The Lab and at O2, all of whom I’ll be keeping in touch with.

So my final parting words would be: Thank you.  When I first started working at The Lab, I was 16 years old, but you all took me seriously – you treated me as one of your peers, asked for my advice and opinion, gave me opportunities, and offered me the support I needed. It’s because of this trust you’ve placed in me that I have been able to get to where I am.

I will always remember what The Lab has done for me.  So thank you.​

 

 

 

Allen Bradley

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