2016 retrospective and 2017 goals

2016 retrospective and 2017 goals

Wow, another year went by! And here we are again doing some retrospective.

I know this is a cheap way to avoid visiting a psychologist but somehow, writing these posts helps me create piece of mind. And many people have told me they like reading them so it´s a win-win situation!

I started the year with a new role: Automation Team Lead at Wonga.

Wonga is a financial services organisation with presence in multiple countries, operating in a heavily regulated environment and this involves a lot of challenges in terms of automation. Plus, to make things better, the company had gone through massive turnover and they turned into a bit of a corporate environment in order to get FCA approval.

And in corporate environments you get people who don´t understand technology at all. People who believe making you change your password every 30 days makes it more secure than introducing 2 factor auth. People who force you to change your AWS Console password but not your keys. People who pretend to install spy software in your laptop.

One of the most repeated answers to every single question I put was “we are financial services, we cannot do that”. But there was never a technical or legal reason! Someone just misunderstood what the PCI requirements were, they told some non-technical manager and they made everyone´s life more difficult for no reason.

But even with all these constraints my team managed to improve things a lot. We succesfully introduced automation with Ansible, both for Linux and Windows, we changed the way some things were managed (internal APIs through automated HaProxy, time series metrics everywhere with the Telegraf agent and InfluxDB), server images creation with Packer both in AWS and VMWare Vsphere and even Terraform automation in both environments.

Me and my colleague John Paul Newman did a nice talk about all these plans and work in progress at the excellent London DevOps meetup. You can check the slides at

or even watch the video at

And I also did a solo talk at the Winops meetup about using Packer in Windows. Unfortunately, there is no video but you can check the slides at

But there was a problem with all this.
Massive resistance to change from many developers who have been in the company for so long they don´t know anymore what´s out there. And truth be told, management said they supported what we were doing but at the same time they did not encourage teams to follow our principles.

No surprise, I found out this was not the right environment for me after just a few months.

But there was something else about to happen! We were having a baby! And you don´t want to change jobs just before having a baby, do you? Our gorgeous little Julia was born in August and during paternity leave I decided that not only I wanted to leave Wonga but also I wanted to move back home. At the end of the day, London is a great city but it is not very kid friendly. And time has proven us right on that! So many idiots in the tube!

So when I came back from paternity leave I presented my resignation and started looking for a new job in Barcelona. Notice periods in London are usually about 3 months so I had plenty of time!

I spoke to a small number of companies in Barcelona and after some interviews I was lucky to be able to choose between 2 very good offers and after a lot of thinking I decided to become Holaluz new CTO.

Living abroad has been a great experience but we felt it was over for us as soon as we had our little one. Many adventures ahead!

Let´s see how I did this year with my goals:

– Keep improving my technical skills -> Yes!
– Improve my management / leadership skills -> I think I did what I could considering the environment I faced, the budget constraints and the team I found but I guess I gave up soon
– Give a talk in some non-PHP meetup / event -> not only one but 2 of them!
– Take things easier! -> mmmmm with a little one it is not that easy!

And let´s set some goals for 2017:

– Be a good CTO and build a high performant team at Holaluz
– Go back to do some sport
– Give some talks in Barcelona
– Get the AWS certifications

How did 2016 treat you?