I’m employee #1. The first official ThoughtWorks employee. Since this year marks ThoughtWorks’ 25th anniversary, I thought there’s no better time to take a look back at the last quarter century. If you’re familiar with my original look back article “23 and Counting” posted three years ago, you may be wondering why the math doesn’t quite add up… shouldn’t it be 26 and counting? To clarify, I started working for Singham Business Services in 1992 which later became ThoughtWorks (incorporated in1993). So it’s been 25 plus what I like to call a bonus year. Anyways, onwards to sharing my thoughts!
At ThoughtWorks, I have regularly switched back and forth between professional services and operations. For two out of my last three years, I was responsible for our Chicago office operations, including the internal and external community management, as well as overseeing the projects and people that call Chicago home. I took my third sabbatical and returned to the professional services side of the business just in time to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I’m currently busy managing and delivering an enterprise scale program for one of our largest global clients. Experiencing both sides of the business has made me a better consultant and operational leader, and definitely kept things fresh and exciting even after all this time.
When people hear I’ve been at ThoughtWorks for 25 years, they often assume I’ve been doing the same thing for most of my time here. The reality is, in this business, change and the constant need to adapt to rapid innovation are considered a part of life. Growing to 5000+ people across 41 offices in 14 countries requires change - organizational changes, leadership changes, tools, and technology changes. Change is a part of who we are and adapting to change is how we’ve managed to stay relevant, stay ahead and has been the secret sauce to running a successful business for the past 25 years.
Change might be a part of longevity, but no one ever said that change was easy. And even when you anticipate change is coming, it can always be bittersweet. For instance, in my time, I’ve seen our founder, the person who hired me, move on to accelerate his activism work. I’ve seen ThoughtWorks be acquired and I’ve seen the company grow from a handful of people to over 5000. It always takes time to adjust to these changes, but I’ve found it’s important to remember what you’ve learned from the people who used to cheer you on while embracing new leadership, new visions, and new directions.
Over the years and through all the changes, ThoughtWorks passion for the craft of software development and technical excellence has been a true constant. Technology remains at our core of everything we do. I am curious and eager to see what ThoughtWorks can accomplish in the next 5, 10 or 15 years. Having seen the progress, we’ve made in the last 25 I know the possibilities are endless. My only question is will I be around to write 35 and counting? Who knows! I could be here working to solve one of our client's next technology challenge or retired and teaching yoga in some exotic location. Both options sound exciting to me.