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Nick, Cambridge, Computer Science

Casebooks Nick

I joined Ensoft when the company had around 35 people in its Harpenden office. It's since grown to double that size, along the way working hard to hold on to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere I encountered when I started. There's a real sense of ownership by everyone here: from the expansion to a second office and the company-wide poll to choose the building names "Fire" and "Ice" (with room names matching the themes!), to regular employee-organised socials, to people taking responsibility for jobs around the office. On the work side, Ensoft's always had small teams with regular movement between them according to people's interests and changing project needs.

In my first few years I worked on a range of projects ranging from developing a new Carrier Ethernet protocol to maintaining and enhancing our Linux-based test environment (used by most developers here), to writing a NIC device driver in the bring-up of a virtual router running our software. It was a good mix of work and some varied challenges given my lack of experience. Ensoft is great at giving people interesting stuff to work on and listening to make sure they develop in their chosen areas, even as those preferences change over time.

Ensoft provides great training right from the go in everything you need to know: programming, development tools, software engineering, router architecture and design, networking technologies and more. There's an internal education programme which allows you to take responsibility for increasing your own knowledge at a pace you're happy with. And people are always very friendly and approachable for help and to answer questions.

Five years in, I was made a project lead and given responsibility for overseeing the delivery of a software dataplane for our customer's shipping virtual router. This was a huge challenge and a big step-up in contribution but I had the support I needed to tackle it and I'm really proud of the on-time and great quality end result.

Since then, I've taken on a manager's role, learning new skills across both project and personnel management. I've really enjoyed the higher-level view of what's happening and having more opportunities for collaboration. Having everyone work up through the same hands-on, technical route is a huge strength for Ensoft: people aren't just parachuted in to management roles but have the same skills and experience having done the ground work. It means that managers have a clear view on progress, obstacles and frustrations, and enables them to keep on top of how their team are finding the work.

Another big plus of working at Ensoft for me has been the culture of making sure everyone's happy with their day-to-day work and ongoing development. How does this happen in practice? Primarily by seeking out interesting and challenging work for engineers. There's always scope for moving people around to do more of what they enjoy if that's not the case! The annual appraisal process (which I've seen from both sides) is carefully considered, offering the chance to step back and discuss the past year and look forward to the year ahead. People are thanked, recognised and duly rewarded for their hard work and are encouraged to continue progressing by being giving more of what they need.

I became a dad in 2011, and I've appreciated Ensoft as a very family-friendly company which affords an unrivalled work-life balance. There are a number of others at a similar stage to mine and it's been great for our children to get to know each other. The annual children's Christmas party has expanded rapidly over the past few years as the next generation of Ensofters is grown and trained up!

Overall, working at Ensoft has been a great start to my career and I definitely made the right decision to join. It's been excellent to work with bright, like-minded and friendly people who care deeply about high-quality output, training and development. I've valued the opportunities to develop skills and build up experience in such an environment. There's so much going on socially as well which really helps to develop relationships beyond just the technical work. I'd highly recommend applying if you're considering in a career in software development.