Gravitywho? #3 Henry
In this series, I interview the award-winning team of creative geeks, thinkers and grafters, one by one.
Henry, great to meet you. Where are you from and how long have you been at Gravitywell?
I'm from Bristol (Bedminster, to be specific). I joined in Spring 2017 so I’ve just had my four year anniversary here.
Representing BS3. Nice. What's the best thing about working here?
Absolutely the variety. We’ve never settled on one type of project, platform, stack, or way of working. With such a wide range of experience, knowledge, and interest across a small number of people, we’re able to pick up almost anything and find a way to make it work.
Who would be your dream client and what would you like to work on for them?
Can I pick something from the past? I’d give anything to have worked with id Software back around the release of their DOOM remake in 2016. The team was at a crossroads where they had to release a new game in a series that meant so much to a huge number of people (myself included) while bringing something new and innovative to the experience. They’ve been open about scrapping multiple attempts, really breaking down what made their earlier games great, and rigorously checking their assumptions every step of the way. It resulted in one of the freshest, most exciting games in recent memory and showed total respect for their fans and users across the board. Plus the soundtrack rocks.
So, what does a technical project manager do exactly?
The easy answer is a little bit of everything! My job starts with talking to potential clients - startups in need of tech development, businesses looking for support in digital innovation - and guiding them through what they need to realise their plans. After that, it’s a more hands-on process of working with our developers and designers to structure a full project and build out a roadmap with estimates and budgets. Then, when we start the build, I make sure everyone has access to the people and information they need in order to succeed, while keeping an eye on progress.
You're a busy boy then, to say the least. How did you get into your role?
I actually started out as a developer (which had its own roundabout path, starting with qualifying as a librarian… I tend to fall into things!) here at Gravitywell. As time went on and I spent more time talking to clients, I realised that I had a passion for dreaming up solutions and making sure that every idea had a chance to grow into something cool and useful.
What's the worst thing about working in tech?
There’s a lot of pressure to drive ahead in the name of change and progress without always considering the wider impact or disruption. “Move fast and break things” doesn’t always present the most responsible or sustainable path, which is crucial for innovation to have a positive effect on the world.
*Cough* Bitcoin mining *cough*. What's your favourite piece of tech and why?
I have to pick my Olympus Trip 35 film camera. Even though it’s older than me and doesn't even run on batteries, it’s capable of using solar power to read light levels and automatically set the right exposure for the shot. It’s such a cool little example of thoughtful, resourceful engineering that’ll last for many years to come.
Your Hackathon dream destination would be..?
The SCUBA diver in me wants to say Mexico but I doubt I'd have much time to spend in the cenotes while we're building an app. Instead, I'll say New York City. With almost everything available 24/7, huge and fast-moving tech and creative communities, and, of course, fast internet, fantastic food and views, you can't go wrong!
I agree! Let's hope Simon's reading this. Finally, what's the best-kept secret in Bristol?
The Cube Microplex - an independent, volunteer-run cinema in the heart of the city. I may be biased but it's the best place in town to enjoy little-known movies, music and comedy. Tickets and drinks are cheap too!