Each month we're introducing a different member of our two professional services teams. This month Alex Dixon, who manages our Lake House team, talks about life at Zengenti.
How long have you been working at Zengenti and what were you doing before?
I’ve been at Zengenti for over 4 years now and have held various roles in different departments. My job titles have included Front End Web Developer, Lead Digital Designer and now Professional Services Manager. In the dark days, before ‘Life at Zengenti’, I was either freelancing in the web industry, or working as a designer slash coder for smaller web agencies.
What does your role involve?
Being a Professional Services Manager involves wearing a lot of hats. My primary responsibility is to manage my team. This consists of managing their projects and workloads, taking the time to have regular one-to-one sessions, acting as an escalation point to blockers or client issues, looking after the work environment, representing my team in management meetings, and, of course, carrying out my fair share of the tea and coffee making.
Outside of that? I’m really pulled in a number of directions. For example, I could be researching a new type of system to use internally, helping sales with a large tender, ordering new equipment for the team, recruiting our next new superstar, or perhaps simply picking up the phone for someone else. The short answer is, being a manager at Zengenti makes you responsible for everything, regardless of jurisdiction. At the end of the day, we’re all striving towards the same goals, so if I can help someone else out or fix something, I do.
What services are offered by your team?
In a nutshell, Professional Services are the end-to-end solution for client projects. We offer everything from early discovery work, scope creation and kick-off meetings, to post launch training, advice and consultation—both on-site and off. This enables our clients to go from a thought bubble idea, to a fully 'all singing and dancing' product.
If we’re talking about specific skills and knowledge, you’ll find that each member of my team has a common set of skills that they share with each other, such as HTML and CSS. This is then followed by a unique set of skills such as responsive design, C# development or user experience expertise. In fact our team encapsulates such a broad range of skills, we can often offer more than one solution to a clients request.
Take us through a normal day for you.
A normal day? I don’t think that really exists in this type of role if I’m honest. Sure I have a morning scrum, check my emails, have a few regular meetings, and do the fortnightly sprints. But after that it gets tricky. Why? Because my agenda is like a big list of priorities which are constantly shifting to suit the needs of my team, our clients, and Zengenti. For instance, day one I might be presenting on stage at our annual Rocket conference, the next day could be filled with meetings, the following day I’ll be interviewing for new staff, then the day after than I might be snowed under with admin work, and so on. I see this as a positive — in fact it’s one of the reasons I like the role so much; no two days are the same.
How do you find working at Zengenti?
I believe that working here for over 4 years in various teams with different people, has given me a better insight than most into Zengenti. With that said, I can honestly say that I find it pleasure to work at Zengenti and count myself lucky to have found a place with such fantastic and talented people. Some have even called us the Google of Ludlow! And, lets not forget the extraordinary location, super-cool equipment, and top-notch flashy facilities.
The Zengenti work-life in a few words? Diverse, inspiring, gratifying, tough, skilled, jovial, unified.
Are there any current trends that are leading the kind of work coming in from clients?
Last year we saw the rise of several responsive grid frameworks, many of which have now started to filter through into our work with larger public sector clients. In connection to this, a lot of our more recent projects involved making client sites responsive, accessible and useable for the handheld device market. This wave of change was brought about by an ever increasing volume of users accessing websites via mobile and tablet sized devices.
Newer technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 have also been making their way onto the scene. Most of our new projects have utilised these technologies as default, employing graceful degradation to older browsers where necessary.
Finally, the big creative trend that seems to be saturating our industry at the moment is flat, minimalist, design combined with a content first approach. In 2014 we saw a huge emphasis on websites focusing on their content, keeping any design elements very concise, usable and simple. Naturally this has gone hand-in-hand with the responsive shift that I mentioned before, and has continued to reverberate through the web neighbourhood ever since.