Lewis joined Ideal in 2011, since then he's progressed from a Junior Engineer role to a Senior Project Engineer and has taken 18 months out to pursue a lifelong travelling ambition.
Hi Lewis, welcome back! Can you tell us a little bit about your role?
I work as a Senior Project Engineer within Ideal.
Basically it's my responsibility to deliver networking projects to customers all the way through the project lifecycle process. This means I manage projects through their whole journey from pre-sales, requirements gathering, design, configuration, delivery and implementation, all the way to documentation, handover and early life support.
When and why did you leave Ideal? And most importantly, what have you been doing in your time away from the company?
I’d been working at Ideal for 5 years, I started out as a Network Engineer at an entry level role in 2011 and was surrounded by a really supportive team. A few years into the role with a good amount of experience under my belt and some certification I became a Senior Network Engineer. Pleased with my career progression I started saving for a deposit on a mortgage.
Come 2017, I’d been working hard and saving hard, and I found myself with a choice in front of me. Since I was a teenager, I'd always wanted to go travelling but I never had enough money saved to do so. Now I was in a position to either: buy a property, tie in to a mortgage and the repayments for the next 25 years, or use that money to go travelling and see some of the world while I had the chance, relatively free of responsibilities. Besides, I could always start saving for a deposit again when I got back.
So I did just that. I took a chance, rode a 125cc motorcycle from the UK all the way to Mongolia (and most of the way back), backpacked around East and South East Asia, and took a motorcycle trip around Europe. When I was in the UK I jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft, rode a 1 mile zip wire, took a power boating trip, and that’s just to name a few.
Was it worth it? Definitely!
What was your favourite memory from travelling?
I don't think I have a specific favourite memory that stands out above the rest, I've got quite a few fond memories, and a few not so great ones! I enjoy looking back at the photos I took, reminding myself of the adventures I had, remembering the people I met and the adventure I had.
What did you learn whilst you were travelling?
Probably that no matter where you go in the world, people are pretty much the same regardless of language or culture or relative wealth. Most people just want to live a good life irrespective of what their livelihood is, and if you treat them with kindness and respect, they'll do the same for you.
On a slightly less philosophical note, when I talk to people about my travels, I'm often told that it's such a brave thing to do, especially going alone, and that they could never do it- it’s just too scary or intimidating. To that, I can say that I learned the worst part is the planning, the build-up, the anticipation and apprehension especially if you've never done it before. But once you're out there, all of that disappears and you get stuck in, enjoying the experience, people, food, sights, smells and everything else that comes with it.
Where is next on your travelling list?
The world is a big place, with many different countries and cultures to visit and experience so it's difficult to try and narrow down the list of places I'd like to travel to. I've always wanted to visit the US and Canada, perhaps as some sort of bike or road trip. A lot of people I've spoken to about travelling have highly recommended visiting India, so that's on the list. If I won the lottery, I'd probably want to go everywhere, but that's not too likely unfortunately. I don't have any plans to travel in the short-term, but at some point, in the not too distant future, definitely.
What made you return to Ideal/what do you like about it?
When I returned to the UK for the final time I started to look for work and coincidentally Ideal were looking for a network engineer to join the team. I enjoyed my previous role at Ideal and could see that since my time away they had acquired some big-name customers which was an exciting prospect for me.
I knew the company, the people and the technologies, and when I left the company back in 2017 it was under good circumstances. I re-joined the team as a Senior Project Engineer, similar to a Senior Engineer but with more focus and have slotted back into things quite nicely. It’s good to be back.
What’s changed at Ideal since you’ve been away?
Quite a bit has changed in the 18 months I was away. A few of the people I used to work with have moved on to other areas, and due to the company growth in the last year and a half there are quite a few new faces too. There are new customers and exciting new technologies, but the core of the business, the way we operate and our collective personality has remained the same. And, before you ask… that’s a good thing, although the company has grown in size and experience its customers and employees have remained at the heart of what we do at Ideal and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back.
If you were talking to someone considering a job at Ideal what’s the one best thing you have to say about Ideal?
I think the best thing about Ideal is the people who make up the company. Everyone here is genuinely nice and interesting, there's not a bad soul here. We're quite multicultural, with staff members from all over the UK, and all over the world, and I think that helps build our tolerant and friendly ethos that is quite fitting of a modern company.
We're all part of the same team here, all working towards a common goal and everyone is willing to help each other out when it's needed.
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Images: Lewis Moorcroft