Chris Holt, Oxford
Junior Project Manager, Oxbotica
Working in IT services in Oxford, Chris was ready for the next step in his career. Oxbotica’s progressive technology and fascinating software drew him in and it’s safe to say he hasn’t looked back since.
Within the first six months of his time here, Chris has had to juggle a new career with a new baby. Read more about his experience on becoming a first-time father and how he has balanced that with a new career in autonomous vehicles.
How did you hear about Oxbotica and where were you working before?
At the time I was juggling a Project Management course at Oxford University with a full-time role working in IT services. As I started looking at various roles online, I found the Junior Project Manager position at Oxbotica. In all honesty, I knew very little about the company, but I found myself growing increasingly captivated by it as I did my research. From there, it didn’t take long before I had submitted my application.
What inspired you to work for Oxbotica?
I found their work truly fascinating. Being new to the field and having a particular interest in technology, I felt that this could be a really great fit for me and the perfect opportunity to progress my career in a really exciting environment. It seemed to tick all the right boxes and so I applied.
‘’Oxbotica seemed to tick all the right boxes, so I applied.’’
What is a typical day-to-day description of your role?
Aside from the usual day-to-day elements of admin, emails and team meetings, I spend a lot of time tracking job tasks on our internal software. This allows me to see how everything is progressing and what different people are working on. This is particularly important as occasionally tasks or projects can become stuck with one individual or team. This software helps me to monitor those situations and assess if something needs to be altered or fixed.
‘’I work with some amazing professionals and I’m always keen to learn more about the technical side of the company.’’
What is the most fulfilling part of your role?
I get a real sense of satisfaction from being able to adjust and fix processes that might help a project or process run smoother. Often, we will have a couple of different teams working on one project at the same time. This is great, but it can mean that one team member’s work might be blocked by the progress of another. I’ve been given real freedom in my role and enjoy liaising between different teams to ensure the work is fluid and efficient. I would say that the success I see from this cross team collaboration is the most fulfilling aspect of my job.
How has Oxbotica supported you to become a working parent?
It was a slightly unusual case as my daughter was born only a month and a half after I started working at Oxbotica. Usually this might make you feel nervous, but from the outset, I found the company to be extremely generous and supportive as I navigated becoming a parent for the first time. Despite having only just started at the company, I was able to take statutory paternity leave in September with an added one weeks of unpaid leave.
Oxbotica has been excellent. It’s always had a good reputation for embracing flexible working and since my return I have been able to alter my hours to accommodate life as a working parent. I no longer work the usual 09:00 – 17:00 but often come in earlier, around 08:30 which means I can also leave earlier and spend quality time each evening with my daughter before she goes to bed. I also work from home one day a week which has made a notable difference.
‘’ Oxbotica has been excellent. It’s always had a good reputation for embracing flexible working.”
How did you find integrating back into work upon your return?
I think it goes without saying that it is always tough to readjust to normal work following the birth of a child, especially your first – when everything is still so new. Having said that, the whole team at Oxbotica were extremely supportive and flexible. Simple things like not always having a meeting first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening have really helped me. So has the flexibility offered, whether that is working from home or slightly adjusted hours.
How do you find coping with having to look after your child while working from home?
I actually find I can be really productive working from home. Luckily, I have a room separate to my house which I can use as a sort of ‘home office’ that I have found to be really useful. With various remote working technologies such as conference calls and messaging, I’ve found that we are still able to maintain our daily team meetings and remain completely up to date and connected as a team which is great.
With no commute, it also allows me to spend more time with my daughter. She’s now rolling and crawling everywhere, so getting to see those moments is really special.
Do you have any advice for expectant or new parents when it comes to juggling your new work/life balance?
From my experience, it is worthwhile talking through the different options available with your employer. There will be ways that they can help you to adjust to this new chapter in your life. When I work from home, I try to have a strict cut-off time at the end of the day so that you don’t get swept into work in the middle of family time and vice-versa. Sometimes things can clash, and it’s important to remember that, so I think having as much of a routine in place as possible enables you to have something to stick to.
‘’Utilise the resources available to you including flexible working hours. I have found that this has enabled me to keep up with work while also enjoying time with my new family.’’
How do you envisage the future of mobility and what is it that excites you most about it?
I strongly believe that autonomous vehicles will help to make our society safer and more efficient. This technology isn’t all about shaping the future, it’s happening today and is becoming part of the wider transport infrastructure that we all use in our daily lives.
I’m excited by the potential for what could be and the impact autonomous vehicles could have on the way transport operates – from basic elements such as traffic congestion through to eliminating accidents which are so often caused by human error. Socially, too, we have the ability to make it accessible at any point, to go anywhere. That is why I am so proud to be working at Oxbotica. The whole team is helping to make this a reality, today.