One of the things I’m most proud of as the CEO at SYKE is being able to give young, gifted students a foot up onto the first rung of the career ladder.
In the first of a series of blogs featuring some of our rising stars, I’d like to introduce you to Alfie Thackeray.
Alfie is a legal engineer who has been with SYKE for just over two years. He’s one of a number of University of Manchester law graduates who have excelled on their course, shown an interest in legal tech and innovation, and seized the opportunity to join a start-up like ours. I’m fortunate that I get to teach them as part of the syllabus – and I also get to spot the stars.
I’ll let Alfie tell his own story but, needless to say, he’s one of a growing pool of talented young people who have joined the company and are working in a way that suits them, delights our customers (one of whom threatened to adopt him), and throws away many of the conventions that were de rigueur when I was their age.
Here’s Alfie’s story in his own words.
My name’s Alfie. I live in Verbier, an Alpine village in Switzerland’s Valais Canton. It’s the gateway to the Four Vallées ski area. Trails on Mont Fort Glacier have views of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
So how did I end up living and working here? Well, essentially, I wanted a change of scene from the suburbs of London. As SYKE allows for fully remote work, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to fulfil a dream of doing a ski season, whilst continuing to work a job I love! I first floated the idea with the boss on the SYKE ski trip last March just before the first lockdown, and he told me to go for it.
I’m continuing to work my normal job as a legal engineer, assisting my client in the rollout of Contract Express. But, with living here, I am making plenty of time for skiing. If I have a quiet morning, with no urgent tasks and no meetings booked in, I will head out to ski for a couple of hours first thing.
I’ve actually found that this really helps me focus for the rest of the day, and I generally feel much happier/healthier. I’ve noticed a genuine improvement in my own work. Then, when it comes to the weekend, that is all about skiing! It’s a pretty good life that I can’t complain about, skiing as much as possible, whilst also really enjoying my work. I’m super grateful to Alistair and SYKE for opportunities like this. I think that a core value of SYKE is trust, and they trust me to carry on working as normal, even if there is the constant distraction of skiing.
Three years ago at Uni, I was in a careers talk first learning about legal tech. It sparked something in me, and I knew that that was the career path for me, rather than the traditional solicitor/barrister route. But, I never would have imagined that just a couple of years later I’d be working for SYKE, heading up my own contract automation project, and doing my small part to change the legal industry for the better, whilst also living in the Alps and skiing at every spare opportunity. It is certainly much better than the late evening/early morning horror stories that you hear from trainees at various law firms and commuting daily!!
Other than that, I am just enjoying the Alp lifestyle. I was hoping to do a French language course to brush up on my extremely rusty GCSE French. But, unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, these are no longer running.
A typical day is something like this:
- 07:00 – Wake up, check emails and to-do list, ticking off any quick wins. Plan out my day.
- 08:00 – Head to the ski lift (listening to the SYKE podcast on the walk of course 😉). First lift is 08:30, so head up the mountain then.
- 08:30 to 11:00 – skiing
- 11:30-13:00 – Automation time. Reviewing documents, mapping out workflows, mapping approvals etc.
- 13:00-14:00 – Lunch and emails.
- 14:00-17:00 – Meetings/catch-up calls, and small tasks in between.
- 17:00-19:00 – General project work. Could be more contract automation, reviewing clause usage data, project planning, strategy planning, and general bug fixing.
- 19:00:19:30 – Quick review of the to-do list, check what I’ve done today and what’s to be done tomorrow.
- 19:30 until bedtime – Rest and relaxation, getting ready for tomorrow.
I am staying in a very traditional Swiss chalet, a wooden hut on the side of the hill. It’s very quirky and traditional. I live with three ski instructors/guides, which is very useful as they can show me around the mountains. It works very well though. They’re out all day working, so I can have some peace and quiet and get on with work.
I still work my normal working hours, 35-40 hours a week (sometimes more if we are approaching the rollout of a new template!!). But on a typical day, I will ski in the morning, from about 08:00 -11:00. Then from 11:00 – 19:00, I will work. If it is a busy morning, or I have any deadlines I am working to meet, then I will miss the skiing.
If I’ve had a week with lots of skiing, then I may use some time in the evenings to catch up on small, non-urgent tasks and emails.
I love my job, I love where I live, and I really appreciate being given the opportunity to do both at the same time.
If you’re interested in a role at SYKE, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are growing quickly and always interested in finding new talent.