Last week marked the conclusion of the first month in my first project for Excelian. Even though only 30 days have gone by, I feel years older. I don’t mean that I feel grumpy and my joints hurt (in fact, I’ve just joined Excelian’s touch rugby team despite barely knowing the rules!). I mean older in the sense of experienced.

What a difference 4 weeks makes; on my first day I felt like a kid when I sat nervously in the magnificent hall of Daiwa Capital Markets’ European branch (absolutely gorgeous, by the way. If you ever happen to, like T.S. Eliott said, “Flow up the hill and down King William Street”, I strongly recommend you to stop by and admire its marble pillars and elaborated chandelier that date from the very dawn of the 20th Century).

I had prepared extensively for Grid Management. Not only had I gone through 2 years studying Computer Science and another 2 years working in the field before relocating to London, but Excelian also very kindly trained me for three months on the very subjects that I was going to need (This included Financial Markets, which, I tell you, can come quite handy when you have to give your two cents in a water cooler conversation). I also spent three weeks on a Technical Placement developing my skills and knowledge. So I was ready.

But of course, like most areas in life, there are certain aspects that one never learns by theory alone, but has to practice to get a real feeling of. And much of what I’ve learnt in this past month is largely due to the rest of the other members of the GaaS (Grid-as-a-Service) team in Daiwa, Chandni and Karl.

I will never know for sure how much of this was set up beforehand, but the truth is, every day it seemed to me that there was something new and exciting to do, some technology to research, some procedure to implement or a new challenge to be solved.

So far, I have built (and rebuilt) Virtual Machines, deployed new procedures’ packages, created scripts to clean the logs, added machines to the grid, revamped the reporting and pricing tool, configured email notifications, taken daily reports, and even carried out an impromptu mission to repair the office’s coffee machine (while uttering the importance of engineers in all walks of life, of course)!One may think that this hectic style of working can dishearten even the most hyper-caffeinated overachiever, but, in fact, I’ve found that all this activity fits me quite well. It keeps me alert, engaged, and most importantly, it makes me feel part of the general vibe of a financial institution, where everything seems to happen, usually at once.

The secret to how I’ve adapted so smoothly is, again, the genius of Chandni and Karl, supervisors (and friends) extraordinaire. At the very beginning, every day we would have “Chandni’s Hour”, 60 minutes in which she would explain that day’s topic in the fashion of a TV Program. Karl, as well, soon found a way to intersperse technical conversations with trivia factoids, in an outstanding effort that so far has gained me a few points in many a pub quiz. Besides, it has proven impossible (I’ve tried) to ask him a question about his field to which he doesn’t know the answer by memory. I’ll keep reporting on that, stay tuned.

Together, they formed the ideal combination to provide the ultimate crash course in Grid Computing. And this has been just the first month. Now, as a de jure part of the team myself, I feel ready, experienced and willing to see how the project grows.

‘Older’, you would say. I prefer ‘wiser‘.
Ruben Almagro