Holy crap, I’m moving to Switzerland!

It's been a bit quiet around here for the last couple of months. A quick brain dump.

In February I left my job helping to run the mail systems at Citigroup, having sorted myself out with a contracting role doing software development in Perl (with some Autosys and Murex mangling on the side) for the nice people at Brevan Howard. Quite definitely some of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of working with in the financial industry. If you're a London-based Perl developer looking for work and the opportunity for a contract with them comes up, jump at it.

Along the way I finally got around to sorting myself out with a Flickr account, and you can see my photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikclayton/. Not something I've written much about, but that may change in the future.

Anyway, that proved to be temporary. No, they didn't fire me. Instead, in two days time I jump on a plane bound for Zurich, to start working as a site reliability engineer for Google Switzerland.

I was over there a couple of weeks ago as part of a preview-cum-orientation trip, which coincided with the once-every-three-years Züri Fäscht (Zurich Festival), so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of fireworks.

Züri Fäscht

Züri Fäscht

Züri Fäscht

Anyway, I hope to write more next week about the process, useful sites for people undergoing a similar move, and so on. That, and getting back to contributing to projects like Subversion -- my free time has been practically non-existent for the past 4 months or so, and that's something that I've let slip.


  1. hmm, interesting! Google borgs another open source contributor ;)
    There was a big jump in their hires of open source people a while back, but I haven't heard much recently.

    As a matter of interest, what was the biggest attraction for you? (every now and again I consider investigating it myself...)

    btw if you're visiting the Dublin googleplex and fancy meeting up for a pint, drop me a mail -- I live in Dublin and would be happy to pop out for a pint or two ;)

  2. Cool.

    Willkommen in der Schweiz :)

    Zürich is a very nice place.

  3. Justin,

    Hmm. There wasn't any one big attraction, but quite a few a medium sized ones.

    I'd been thinking of leaving Citigroup for various reasons for a while, but hadn't found anywhere that I wanted to jump ship to. Google's reputation, while not perfect, but it's a lot better than many other companies.

    And then there's the people -- I know a few people that work for Google in the US, and they've consistently recommended them as an employer. And the people that I met at interview were smart, engaging, and easy to get on with.

    Getting out of the UK had been playing on my mind, since I can't consistently watch the evening news without wanting to put a brick through the TV. Switzerland's clean, not as expensive as people would have you believe, and it's an excellent opportunity for my two step-children to get some experience of life outside the UK.

    I'm swapping a morning commute that starts at 6.40 (ish, depending on when the trains arrive) to one that starts at 8.25. And there's no "depending on when the trains arrive" in Switzerland. If you look at your watch and it looks like the train's late, chances are your watch is broken.

    As I write this I'm sat on the train, it's the middle of the morning rush hour, and there's plenty of space. Having spent 4 months enduring the joys of Virgin trains this is a revelation.

    Then there's the size of the problems that Google works on. The sort of systems that I've worked on previously have been in the small to mid-gigabyte range, in terms of either the volume of data they work with, or the volume of data they produce that you need to analyse. Google's dealing with terabytes of data. That's a whole set of skills to take on board, which is very attractive.

    20% time was another factor. There are a lot of projects that I want to contribute to, and over the past 4 or 5 months it's just been unfeasible, because of other commitments on my time. Google positively encourages you to take 20% of your time (it might be one day a week, you might save up a few weeks worth and essentially take a week off, or however you want to split it) to work on problems and projects that interest you.

    And if I'm ever over in Dublin I'll definitely take you up on that offer.