Interview with Greg Harvey - Co-founder of Code Enigma
Greg Harvey is the co-founder of Code Enigma - a reputable IT company specializing in Drupal and web development services. Greg got to know IT through architecture and decided that this is his true professional call. Now, he leads Codeenigma, and in this interview will share more about his experience and knowledge with us.
Welcome to TechBehemoths, Greg. Please tell us a little about yourself. Your background and how did you come to this point?
Bizarrely, I’m actually an architect (buildings!) by training. I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at university and got into IT after my studies, while building websites for the architects practice I was working for, ostensibly as a drawing technician. Having decided it was more fun to be a web developer than an architect, I started job hunting for a position in London and ended up working for an advertising agency. I climbed up through the ranks to head of development than technical project manager on the sales and delivery side, before eventually leaving to work on marketing analytics software for a start-up that eventually got bought by Dow Jones. A little while after that I fell into Drupal, using it to build pop-up online communities for another start-up. When I left that job I set up on my own as a freelance developer and consultant.
When and how did you start your business? Is there an interesting story here?
I basically started my business because in the UK it’s hard to work freelance without either having your own business or working through an “umbrella company”. So initially it was just a contracting vehicle, but when my daughter was born I started looking more and more for projects I could do from home. It was around this time we moved to France and my wife and I started working full time for the new “family business”. Things got busy, we won a decent piece of work with The Economist and – feeling the pressure and wanting to take on more projects in France and the UK – I decided to partner up with a couple of other small businesses and make a new one, so Code Enigma was born. It wasn’t an easy ride, in fact, the business has gone full circle now and I’m the last remaining founder, but I’ve learned so much and continue to do so every day.
What do you think you’d be doing right now if your business didn’t exist?
I’d probably still be working for a company in London, commuting to work on the tube, drinking too much Caffè Nero coffee and getting home too late. Frankly, I’m very happy I’m doing what I do from the comfort of my home office surrounded by countryside!
What’s your technique for staying productive throughout the day?
About 30% of my time organises itself, we run an ISO management framework and there are a bunch of meetings that come out of “business as usual” that just happen. For the rest, I tend to block out my time and stick to doing what I said I’d do. I look at business priorities, but also at what I want to do (because sometimes you need a break from what you have to do) and I try to turn my agenda into a balance of necessities and things that I find fun and interesting. I find if I keep a bit of fun in my schedule then some of the more boring bits of business administration are less arduous.
The biggest killer of productivity, in my opinion, is being too connected. You can’t get anything done if you respond immediately to every email and chat message. Learning to ignore the constant bombardment of messages and timebox when you respond is something I’ve found invaluable. If you’re not careful your inbox can eat you alive!
How do you define “being successful”?
Feeling content in yourself and your life, which also means your work – let’s face it, you spend a big chunk of your waking life doing it. And I suppose in my case, running a company where the staff feel the same (I hope). I used to buy into the idea that business was all about growth and getting big, but we need to break that mindset, collectively, because it all ties into the problems we’re having with climate change, resource starvation and so on. Constant growth isn’t a model that makes any sort of sense in the context of nature, and it doesn’t make sense in business either.
Real success is about stability and a good work/life balance for everyone involved.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I’m a keen musician, so I like to play guitar, piano and drums, particularly with my kids, now that they’re big enough to be useful! (A friend of mine quipped I’m not raising a family, I’m growing a band – I couldn’t argue.) I also like to get out on my bicycle when I can, usually two or three times a week for an hour or so, although I’m very slow. I take it easy and take in the countryside.
What are your recommendations for a business or developer novice?
Wow, where to start? For business, I would say don’t overstretch yourself and follow your instincts, which sounds stupid but if I’d listened to myself when I wasn’t sure about something or someone, instead of convincing myself it would be OK, I probably would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble. Also, listen to your friends and family, too many people go it alone and don’t ask or don’t like hearing advice that is contrary to what they think they need to do. If enough people are telling you something, whether you like it or not they’re probably right. As a developer, keep it fun and follow what you enjoy. If you’re fascinated by the challenge then you’ll learn fast and enjoy your work. And as a general rule in life if you don’t like your work, find something else!
Too many people sit in jobs they hate and moan about it. Hate your job? Leave! Especially if you’re fortunate enough to have valuable skills like web development.
Thanks for the interview, Greg! Your experience and knowledge are valuable resources for future entrepreneurs and developers. Wish you and Code Enigma lots of new projects, and good luck in what you do! Hope to hear from you soon on TechBehemoths!
Greg Harvey and Code Enigma are among the most active and professional web development agencies on TechBehemoths. If you like this interview and think Greg and his team could help developing your next digital product, don't hesitate to contact them on TechBehemoths. Also, feel free to discover them on social media:
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