I caught up with Jesse Robbins at Foo Camp, and he gave me a great line that I remember as being something like: “I’m going on an adventure. The outcome is uncertain, there will be setbacks along the way, so I’ll surround myself with good travelling companions.”
I’m going on a new adventure. This week saw me join the fast-growing Kiwi education startup, Hapara as something like “Head of Partnerships”. I say “something like”, because when Jan recruited me, he said “we’re growing so fast that each fortnight there’s a fresh challenge we haven’t seen before, and there’s always more work than there are people to do it.” In my first week I’ve arranged for us to go to NZ Pycon, met the head of education at Google for Asia-Pacific, and chewed on the coffee at Point England school (Russell makes it strong).
This job is the perfect alignment for me: challenge (plenty of opportunity to do new things), mastery (he says confidently), and purpose (we give teachers superpowers!). I’ve been involved in education and schools since I got back to NZ in 2005, and it felt time to live that. I’d had plenty of fishing expeditions from folks about joining their businesses, but I never felt the same resonance as with Jan’s vision for Hapara. He’s clear that we make teachers more effective, we’re not one of those edtech startups setting out to replace teachers with videos and multichoice assessment. Everything I’ve ever seen in schools has convinced me that teachers are critical, and the best use of technology is to augment teachers and not attempt to supplant them.
I’ll still continue to do Kiwi Foo Camp, as I think it’s important to bring together exceptional Kiwis. I’ve been working on making the events I do sustainable, and hired my sister Bree to drive them while I’m in other lands. She’s been taking point this year, so the handover has been pretty smooth so far. She’s working on Devmob, Kiwi Foo, starting to look for sponsors for Kanga Foo, and pulling together the corporate unconferences we run. I’m still retaining my positions on boards and councils: Silverstripe, InternetNZ, Leigh School, Optimal Workshop, LIAC, etc. If it becomes clear that I’m over-committed, I’ll step down. Until then, it’s full steam ahead!
The new gig has meant commuting, which is a first for me. I’m enjoying catching up on In Our Time, and every day I walk into the office with my mind fizzing over about something new. I’ve already induced eye-rolling in my new coworkers by raving about the English Civil War, Heraclitus, and Montaigne.
Coworkers! I have coworkers! Life sure has changed from when my office was my dining table and my coworkers were the coffee pot and the fridge. I have great travelling companions for my adventure: Jan, cofounder and CEO; Emily, Australian, product owner and COO; Paul, front-end dev and gadgethead; Tony, cofounder, dev lead, and cyberman. (Ok, made that last bit up)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to rest before the next leg of this exciting adventure …