I first heard about CriticalBlue from one of my PhD supervisors and one of the other PhD students in our communal office at Edinburgh University. They told me that CriticalBlue had some smart people working on some interesting projects that might fit my interests, so I had a look at their website. The range and scope of some of their projects looked quite interesting and I was encouraged to see that they were actively considering hardware impacts on their software solutions, so I applied for an interview.
I was struck by the friendly atmosphere of the interview, which quickly moved past the usual programming test and on to some interesting discussion of real projects and the type of challenges that they were facing. I was excited by the prospect of getting to work with and learn from the people that I met. The fact that the interviews were partially conducted by the CTO and CEO showed that they were taking the hiring process seriously. I was offered a role that gave me a chance to apply the skills and knowledge that I had gained from my PhD to real world projects, at a salary that reflected my degree.
I have now been at CriticalBlue for a year and have taken part in two very different projects. I have had the opportunity to make contributions to every part of a project that a programmer could expect to, from the design stage to coding and through to the final documentation. I feel very much a part of the team and I feel that my views are listened to. I have enjoyed the small company feel, with most of us eating lunch together, away from our desktops and our monthly games nights, where we enjoy a selection of board games and pizza. As a further bonus, the central Edinburgh location has meant that I can walk to work! Replacing what may otherwise be a long commute with a shorter, healthier commute and making it much easier to fit in errands around my working hours.
I was employed at a large multinational company for over a year; the work environment was great and well established, but it just wasn't what I was looking for.
In my own experience, I really felt the layers of management heavily embedded inside the company. Voices of the junior staff, eager to make real contributions, were heard, but changes and improvements were slow to come. Unless equipped with groundbreakingly new ideas, employees were likely just completing tasks rather then making enough difference to shape the company.
So, I looked elsewhere.
It has been several months now since I joined CriticalBlue. I enjoy working in an environment where almost everyone is an engineer, and the flexible management style. Things move fast. The nature of work at CriticalBlue varies hugely depending on the project we are asked to complete, ranging from investigation of full stack system bottlenecks, to the full development of security applications. Working for a small company, I have the perk of being involved in the whole process, from research till maintenance, and learn a wide range of technologies and practical knowledge that will be of great value for the progression of my career.
Another source of valuable experience is being part of the decision making process. I can suggest and question the core components that matter to the final outcome of the projects, and ultimately to the company. This is quite different compared to a large company, as you have a greater impact and given much more responsibility, and so able to grow with the company. With this in mind, the CTO and CEO, the backbone of the company, are reachable in a timely fashion to share their first hand wisdom precisely to my personal and work related concerns.
Looking back, I firmly believe that I have made the right choice to join CriticalBlue, and when, along the way, I turned down another offer from a larger company for a similar role.
I am a Senior Software Engineer and Project Manager at CriticalBlue.
I applied to many places including CriticalBlue. From the company website, CriticalBlue seemed to be working on an embedded software optimisation tool which sounded genuinely interesting, refreshingly innovative and very relevant to what I’d been studying. After applying, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to a number of interviews, and to meet with a range of senior staff here: developers, managers, the CTO and finally the CEO. There was a sincere spark of excitement when they all talked about what they did at CriticalBlue, and I knew this must be a good place to work.
Despite being the new grad, people took time to explain the workings of the company to me, the other employees (their names, responsibilities, skills, etc), the design, goals and current state of the product I was involved with and the various customers CriticalBlue helped out. Right from the start I was given responsibility in a proactive role, a lot to research and learn, and a chance to develop something very useful. I was involved with the full development cycle and my contributions were going to be part of a real product.
Over the years I have had an incredible opportunity to work on a wide range of cutting-edge projects and technologies, developing software tools and engaging with various customer service contracts. I have been involved with software optimisation and software security. I have had the opportunity to learn new programming languages and techniques. I have had the opportunity to be involved with market research, board meetings and strategic business decisions. I have had the opportunity to make mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes in a friendly and helpful atmosphere to gain valuable experience.
CriticalBlue is a very flexible and understanding company who works with its employees, tuning itself to their needs, and listening to feedback. This approach, I believe, is vital to ensure a healthy company team who produce more effective products and associated services. David (CEO) and Richard (CTO) are very supportive, and as members of the company board have been honest and open about the state of the company in terms of strategy, finance and employment. All employees are encouraged to understand, challenge and advise on various key decisions here.
I have also had the privilege of creating complex Lego challenges, participating in a firstaid course, attending external technical events, travel opportunities, eating lots of Indian food, taking culinary lessons with my colleagues and being introduced to new board games.