Helen Through the Looking Glass

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


An introduction to me …

It was a seemingly uneventful day in June as I sat quietly Googling content-writing jobs on my Mac at home, in the vain hope of finding some freelance work.  I had made a couple of enquiries, only to discover that freelance content-writing paid very poorly, and was beginning to lose the will to live or, at least, to ever find work again, when by a mysterious stroke of luck, I came across an advert for a job at a digital agency in Poole by the name of ‘Zeta’.  “What was this all about?” I wondered and trundled off on the Google trail once more.  I discovered that not only is ‘zeta’ the 6th character of the Greek alphabet, but it also describes the 6th brightest star in a constellation, so was this the inspiration behind the company logo?  I decided to find out more, and to cut a long story short, I found myself being interviewed by Roger, Brad and Aimee just ten days later!

So what was the significance of the number 6?  Apparently Zeta began with just six employees in January 2000, the same time as my life was about to change completely when I discovered I was carrying my first child.  During those ten years the headcount at the local Zeta office has doubled in size, meanwhile I have endeavoured to raise two well-grounded and culturally-aware children with reasonable success.  (Fortunately I have not doubled in size, although I did do an excellent impression of a skittle during my pregnancy!)  I should point out here that during those ten years the size of the Zeta Commerce business actually increased by a factor of 40, which speaks volumes (and also keeps the boss happy!).  And so it was, on a warm and sunny Monday in July, that my life was once again about to change completely when I was offered the role of ‘QA Controller’ here at Zeta.

Having worked within Barclays’ International IT and HR IT departments for more than 10 years, in various locations from Exeter to Coventry to Poole, I decided that it was time to terminate my banking career and watch my children grow into the amazing little people they are today.  My plan for the future was to go in search of something more creative when the time was right.  I was delighted, therefore, to find such an excellent opportunity at Zeta.  It has been a huge step for me to re-enter the world of paid work (hurrah!) once more.  Knowing that ten years have somehow slipped by since I last worked, I approached my new colleagues with a quietly excited apprehension, not knowing how I would be accepted as a more mature (supposedly) member of a very youthful, ‘fingers-on-the-digital-pulse’ team.

“Alice in Wonderland” was a favourite book of mine as a child, and my first few weeks here have definitely felt like an adventure into “Zeta Wonderland”.  As I’ve approached my role with trepidation I must confess to feeling a little like Alice venturing into a new world where everything is very different from what she’d experienced before.  Perhaps it’s due to Henry and Sam’s apparent obsession with colourful top hats, or maybe it’s the enormous teapot which sits splendidly in the kitchen, enticing you to keep filling it until your arm breaks when you try to lift it (not forgetting to check for any dozing dormice before you begin!).  Strange and colourful it may seem, but it’s also far more invigorating than any job I’ve done before.  So, whilst I’m not entirely sure that everyone here understands my sense of humour yet, I feel that I’ve found a suitable niche within my role, where I’m already able to actually produce work of some value, in spite of my relative lack of experience in this business.  I have always been inspired by anything which stimulates the creative mind and Zeta is certainly a place where creativity meets technology head-on.  Once I’ve established myself in my title role, I have ambitious intentions to infiltrate other areas and learn as much as possible about the creative media in abundance here, some of which has already produced two exceptional videos for Zeta clients.

So what exactly is ‘QA’ anyway?  ‘Quality Assurance’ is the final process through which every change or new release has to pass before it’s allowed to be presented to the big, wide world.  It’s my job to pick up every spelling mistake, every typo, every grammatical faux-pas and generally nit-pick and make myself really unpopular!  As I pointed out to a colleague last week, ‘QA’ doesn’t just stand for ‘Quality Assurance’ it also means ‘Quite Annoying’, as I emailed her a long list of queries!

Finally, aside from my two children with their jam-packed social lives, which diminish my own social life into pitiful obscurity, my interests include writing, photography, film, music, theatre, dance, social media and all things Japanese.  I have two Japanese friends whom I’ve known for over 20 years.  We started as pen-friends at school, evolved into e-friends and now keep in touch via Facebook.  I love to find new friends from different walks of life, from anywhere in the world, if they’re eager to share a creative thought or interest with me.  These days the world, in digital terms at least, has very few boundaries, and whilst Facebook may have its critics, it is a very powerful social honey-pot.  I firmly believe that ‘Yin Yang’ is present everywhere; extreme opposites, by definition, cannot exist without each other.  I have met some wonderfully unique people via social media – people whom I would never have encountered in my ordinary, everyday life, and I’m grateful for it.

So in spite of the quiet, professional exterior which everyone sees, there lurks beneath a person not only of grammatical pedantry and detail perfectionism, but also creative substance (or was that just something I stepped in?) and I’m doing my darnedest to keep up with the ever-expanding digital universe!

Phew …
Oh, and I make a decent coffee cake too!

  • Joshua C. Pies, MBA

    Welcome to the Blogisphere! It seems to me that with your eclectic background and interests that you will be a wonderful addition to Zeta – not that I know the chaps at Zeta but I surmise that you’d be a well rounded addition to any creative group. Best of luck in your work as “Quite Annoying” and keep up that eloquent writing.