An Baile Fada – 20 years at Bluewave
Today, (16/05/2023) Barry Hughes – Senior Developer and Architect at Bluewave, celebrates his 20 year anniversary with us. To mark the occasion, he’s written an overview of how it all began, how he developed, and the people who helped him along the way. Take a look at Barry’s journey with Bluewave, in his own words, below:
I suppose it’s unusual for an IT professional to share a work anniversary like this. “Celebrating 20 years at…” – but here I am saying it out loud. I’m half-wondering where the time went and half-disbelieving how the world has moved on from developing Lotus Domino forms to now having complex enterprise architectural discussions, while finding the time to be nostalgic and happy that I’m still here.
Over the last 10 years, as organiser of the Dublin Salesforce Developer Group, I think almost everyone I have met has changed employers in the time I have known them. The funny thing about Bluewave is that there are other dear colleagues of mine who have celebrated the same anniversary with the company recently – I’m not the only one here who’s been in it for the long haul. We all would be considered ‘part-of-the-furniture,’ but that’s a phrase that’s alien to Bluewave – we’re fully remote so I don’t believe the business owns much furniture! I’m in a unique position within the company, one of a highly skilled team that’s centred around the client (not Bluewave itself), working within a role that just keeps progressing, mindful of the future of our projects.
Sometimes though, you want to take a breath and realise a career-life milestone like this one; take a look at my own long road and the ‘furniture’ of the job and company I am part of.
A Timely Introduction
When I joined Bluewave in 2003, I was losing my job as an IBM Lotus Domino developer at an incredibly exciting startup with my friend Mitch Wallis – unfortunately, the startup just ran out of road. I think I handled the situation pretty well, but I was so disappointed to be leaving – I live to produce solutions for clients, and we were producing amazing work. A colleague from that startup had a contact with another IBM Partner who were interested in talking to me – now, I’d never heard of “Blue Wave” before that. Admittedly, this conversation, and the whole process, wasn’t something I was looking forward to, considering the damaged levels of optimism I had about my career at the time.
Fortunately though, I did meet the management team at Bluewave, at their cavernous office in Tallaght, and I think I made a good honest impression. My over-honest nature had me believe the conversation was more awkward than it really went, here’s a quick overview:
“Yes I have a Commerce degree – not a Computer Science degree…” (Strike 1?)
“Yes I worked in the IT department at Bank of Ireland, but left because they kinda forgot about me…” (Strike 2?)
“Yes I left a decent job at e-blana to join a start-up that failed…” (Strike 3?)
Luckily for me, things had actually gone a lot better than I initially thought. I picked up on the professional yet casual, delivery-focussed vibe of Bluewave in that first interview and was instantly talking on a similar level to Delivery Director Lorraine Nolan and CEO Harry Dunne. My career needed them and it turned out they needed me. I was tasked with developing solutions for a large project from day one.
Two weeks later, I was engaged to my soul-mate Patrice and suddenly my life-career optimism levels had been turned upside-down. I was off and running – and kinda never looked back.
A Salesforce Journey
Working at Bluewave has come with a lot of new challenges and positive surprises. Building relationships with the hundreds of people I worked with along the way and being involved in major projects from the beginning was a challenge I quickly rose to. I quickly and naturally took the tech lead role in many of these opportunities. My days in the Irish Department of Justice (especially the Probation Service) were very happy and, in my Lotus Domino days, I worked in almost every Irish government department, producing a lot of great work alongside some fantastic teams.
In September 2011, Harry and Lorraine gave me a challenge – the greatest of my working life and changed my career – “have you heard of Salesforce? We need you to become an advanced developer and instructor on that platform – in 18 months.” No worries – go from zero-to-hero – no sweat? The work required on this (including hours of studying while on a family holiday) and the people I met in that time were amazing (Peter Chittum will always be my Yoda – and Chris Barry remains a hero).
I spent many years as a Salesforce instructor, delivering the legendary DEV501 class all over Europe and the Middle East (there are days I miss it); I attended 7 Dreamforces (and presented twice); recently I made a pilgrimage to TDX23 in San Francisco; and now, I’m proud to say I have 12 years experience on the Salesforce platform, 14 certifications and counting. I now cross that barrier from lead developer/tech lead to architect on a daily basis.
Some special mentions are required:
Speaking at my first Dreamforce in 2013, sharing the stage with Peter Chittum and the luminous Leah McGowan-Hare (who still gives me a hug whenever we meet).
Meeting my great friend Don Robins at that same Dreamforce in 2013. Thanks to him, I am now the world’s only non-drinking expert on Laphroaig whisky. His Dreamforce dinners – and meeting the friends that attend – are one of the big highlights of my year.
Having Joe Munguia put up with me on many trips to Dreamforce – the only person I know who has never got mad in his entire life! A true professional – and perhaps the world’s only scouse GAA coach in the world.
To Pavel Hrbacek and long nights working on code together. He may very well be able to code and ski simultaneously – I don’t doubt it.
To Patrick Niland and Kieran O’Sullivan – my e-blana mates who followed me to Bluewave. Geniuses, both.
To Jorgan Strathman who taught me how to work better and calmer – and not at 150% ALL the time. The saviour of the Dublin Dev Group. Keep on running my friend!!
I still apologise to Lauren Bolopue for not turning around to see her on her first Dreamforce trip in 2014 – what a friend and leader in the Trailblazer Community. Look after her Ben.
To the Trailblazers and Dreamers – especially the London Calling crew, past and present – all of whom are heroes to many more than just me.
To the Salesforce Evangelists and MVPs who give me time to say hello and present at Dublin Dev Group meet-ups – many of which were in-person in Dublin. They know who they are. Thank you.
The amazing Salesforce teams in VHI, Aercap, Toyota Ireland, and Canada Life Europe, who I have had the pleasure of working with over the last decade. I’m grateful to have worked alongside you.
Above all, a thanks to my colleagues and the management at Bluewave, who have provided the best support an IT professional would ever need. It’s a credit to my colleagues and our leadership team that as the company has grown – almost unrecognisable in terms of size and project-scale since I joined in 2003 – the atmosphere I’ve always known in the company stays firmly in place. Bluewave has a reputation that has been hard-won and is greatly deserved.
20 years down the long road – and I think it continues to rise up to meet me. I’ll be seeing you all along the way!
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