The one when Si talks to Lewis about leading QA in a product-led startup, using shared parental leave to balance childcare and making a podcast around baby naps.
[00:00:00] Si: Welcome back to the Make Life Work podcast with me Si Jobling, father of two full-time engineering manager and side project hustler. This is the ninth season of the podcast, which takes a slightly different direction from previous seasons, and now focuses on how people find that work-life balance, so ideally you can learn some little tips and tricks too. Nobody has pure harmony, but everyone has their own approaches that work or possibly don’t.
[00:00:30] Si: This week, I’m talking to yet another friend from my old ASOS days Louis. Prescott’s now QA lead at Sarah care and father to a young child. I was recently speaking to Lewis about how he balances work and family demands. Along with producing his own new podcast about contract testing. Yes, another perfect guest for the make life work podcast.
[00:00:51] Si: So let’s find out. How does Lewis Prescott make life work? So
[00:00:56] Si: Welcome along Lewis. How are you doing mate?
[00:00:59] Lewis Prescott: Hey, Hey.
[00:01:01] Si: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. All mine, I guess. Um, what’s going on?
[00:01:05] Lewis Prescott: Hey, thanks for having me. uh, busy, busy. My daughter’s keeping me busy very much so. And then yeah, work’s really picking up at the moment. So yeah, there’s a lot going.
[00:01:15] Si: nice. We can talk about maybe your daughter commitments later down the line. Let’s start off with your work demands then. tell us what you, what it is you do and how you got into. Yeah.
[00:01:26] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. So I I’m a QA lead at Cera Care, which is a startup in the home care, healthcare space, uh, rapidly growing and yeah, lots of activity in that space from investment and stuff like that. So, yeah, there’s a lot of drive to increase the team size, increase the amount of features that we are delivering and all that stuff.
[00:01:50] Lewis Prescott: So, yeah, it keeps me busy and we’re recruiting at the moment. So yeah, there’s a lot of activity happening.
[00:01:56] Si: Mm-hmm.
[00:01:58] Lewis Prescott: and then I do that four days a week and then one day a week I do kind of side business consultancy type thing, where I do a lot of guest blogging and promote my own stuff, training, talking, all that kind of stuff.
[00:02:16] Si: Wow. So you got like the 80, 20 split based on full-time work and then personal growth kind of, you. nice. You got a good balance there. I mean, you’re lucky to get an organization that provides an opportunity for you, I guess,
[00:02:30] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I was really lucky, in terms of that, cuz our child minder actually only works four days a week, so she doesn’t work Fridays. So we were looking for an option and yeah, proposed it to my work and they were up for it. They were against the whole condensed hours thing. That was initially what I wanted to go for is just condense my hours into four days or nine and 10. but they weren’t keen for that because they were like, then everyone else at the company also wanna do that. So, uh, we’re happy for you to take a salary cut and do four days. Um, so that’s what I’ve. Yeah, yeah.
[00:03:12] Si: got it. So you got like 80% salary, but yeah, working four days a week rather than five.
[00:03:16] Lewis Prescott: Yeah.
[00:03:17] Si: Yeah. There’s a lot of, um, conversations going around the industry. Well, for the last few years, really around the four day a week. And do we need to work five days a week? I, I think we all see the benefits of a three day weekend,
[00:03:28] Lewis Prescott: Yeah,
[00:03:29] Si: uh, fully compromise was out of it.
[00:03:32] Lewis Prescott: yeah, I think it really, it really does help you wind down because like, as everyone knows, the weekend is over so quickly. Whereas if you have that Friday, it gives you a bit of that, that time to yourself. Uh, and time to kind of, yeah. get on top of the chores and all that kind of thing.
[00:03:48] Si: Totally. And with a little child as well, cherishing those moments while you can.
[00:03:53] Lewis Prescott: Absolutely. Absolutely. So my mom comes once a fortnight to look after my daughter. So yeah, I have once a fortnight with my daughter and yeah, it works out really well. it’s really nice to see her grow up It’s definitely more challenging than a day at work, but it is, it is also rewarded in, in the same way. And she’s at great age now, like running around and trying to chat to you and stuff like that. So, yeah, it’s really nice.
[00:04:21] Si: Oh, you could tell, I can see the glint in your eye. You’re already enjoying this parenting
[00:04:25] Lewis Prescott: I, the first year was tough man. First year it was really, really tough, but then. Got into it now and yeah. Now she can interact back. It makes it a lot easier.
[00:04:39] Si: thing. Of course. Absolutely. And you got all the fun to come. Let me
[00:04:42] Lewis Prescott: I’ve.
[00:04:43] Si: So let’s, let’s talk about your job a little bit, bit more then what that actually means you, you mentioned a bit about that, the recruitment and the growth, but what actually does your QA lead role entail in your company?
[00:04:54] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, so QA lead at Cera. Uh, and I think it applies to quite a few startups as well is I’m kind of everywhere. I sit across multiple teams, so I have six QAs who I managed that. So, there’s six teams that I kind of need to oversee and understand what’s going on and stuff like that. So I’m involved in lots of conversations with tech leads about strategy.
[00:05:22] Lewis Prescott: I’m involved with product donors around, okay, we’ve got this feature coming out. How can we approach it? But ultimately my QA is kind of do their own thing. So they’re all kind of leads, but on their teams. And then I’m more just kind of an advisor. Sitting in on meetings and understanding kind of where the challenges are. Also get involved in release management because we don’t, there’s no release manager in a startup there.
[00:05:49] Lewis Prescott: A lot of my job is, coordinating with other teams and educating them on what QA is, what we actually do. Cause we don’t just do testing. We don’t just raise bugs. That’s not what we do. So yeah, a lot of my role is education. So yeah, I, I put on a lot of hats every day.
[00:06:11] Si: Sounds it. And like you say, with that sort of direct managing of other QA or lead QAs, you do need to allow them to take on a lot that responsibility as well, I imagine
[00:06:24] Lewis Prescott: Exactly, exactly that. So you, you are hiring a certain type of person cuz they need to be responsible for, for their whole team. Uh, and that does come with a level of seniority. Um, but yeah, in terms of what I do, I’m trying to take a step back, not get involved as much as possible, which is harder than I first anticipated.
[00:06:48] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, I think that’s the way to do it for sure.
[00:06:51] Si: Is this the first role where you’ve been line managing others? Or is it, have you done it before?
[00:06:56] Lewis Prescott: So I’ve done it before, but it was much earlier in my career and I actually took a step back from it when I first got into line management because I just didn’t feel ready. And so I went back, did more technical things and then I’ve come back to it in a much better place and a place where I can relax into it.
[00:07:18] Yeah. Before I was completely outta my depth.
[00:07:21] Si: Mate, don’t talk to me about it. I think when I started line managing, you can realize, whoa, it’s more to this than just ticking boxes and having gonna check quick, check in, you know, you gotta think about what they want and provide those the right support network. So I think you probably did the right thing.
[00:07:36] Si: Going back into the competency a bit more, understand. Further with some real detail. And then going back to say, from my experience, this is what I recommend, or you identify yourself first.
[00:07:48] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, I think, I think it’s that point in your career, where you can get to a point where you don’t immediately open your mouth. And what I mean by that is you are really listening to what the person is saying. You are thinking through. Okay. I’ve been in this scenario before, how can I fly it to this person’s context?
[00:08:10] Lewis Prescott: And then you open your mouth and you speak from your own experiences. And you are really trying to articulate it in a way that that person would understand, whereas early on, right. I was like, okay, I’ve got these things that I can fall back on and you immediately go to that thing, whereas yeah. When you have more time to think, but yeah, it’s definitely a switch.
[00:08:35] Si: Have you noticed a difference since the first time you did it and more recently
[00:08:39] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, huge, huge difference. I think much calmer, like yeah. In terms of not putting it all on your own shoulders. Before, when I was first doing it, I was like taking their problems, putting them onto myself and then trying to solve everyone’s problems. Whereas now very much they are their own problems. I’m happy to help you with your problems, but yeah, they’re not mine.
[00:09:04] Lewis Prescott: They’re, they’re someone else’s.
[00:09:06] Si: And actually it’s funny how much it correlates to parenting actually, you know, you know the answers and you don’t want it to go wrong, but occasionally they need to learn themselves.
[00:09:15] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, definitely. It’s hard. Exactly what I say. It’s hard to just like, be that person that watches, when something’s going wrong, but yeah. Otherwise they’re never gonna learn. Mm.
[00:09:27] Si: To me, it comes back to that sort of fail, fast culture of, you know, learning from your mistakes, what you know, do about it rather than crying about it, you know, try and look, put some solutions in place. Yourself
[00:09:38] Lewis Prescott: Absolutely.
[00:09:40] Si: It’s funny. And so when you talk about, you know, the, testing approach that you’ve got at Cera and the fact that you’re trying to embed a more test first culture and all that sort of stuff, how do you find that nowaday?
[00:09:53] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, it’s, it’s a weird one coming from like ASOS, coming from that kind of company where they’re very test first kind of mentality and everyone that works there has the same ethos in that way, uh, that we’re building quality product. We’ve got the time and yeah, the personnel to be able to deliver that.
[00:10:17] Lewis Prescott: And I think people trust that you will deliver that good product, whereas yeah. Coming to a startup where it’s we need to deliver features and we spend a lot of time kind of yeah, putting out bad features and working out how we’re gonna fix them. Uh, yeah, it’s hard to change people’s mindsets and it’s not just purely a, the team need to start doing this. We need to start collaborating on it together. It is very much changing the whole ethos of the company. Um, and that’s what is really hard to engineer and you go team by team and slowly make progress, uh, towards doing that. And then you also have this legacy. Application, which doesn’t have that built in.
[00:11:10] Lewis Prescott: So then you are working with a lot of tech debt and yeah, it’s really, really challenging environment to be able to instill these values. But yeah, we’re slowly getting there and over time. Yeah. Just become second nature, but yeah, you have to take everyone on journey. It’s not like, okay, tomorrow we can start doing this.
[00:11:32] Lewis Prescott: It’s very much a staged process.
[00:11:36] Si: Yeah, it’s very true. I like to say where we’re looking in in large organization, where we have a bit more of a luxurious opportunity and capacity to think quality because you have to, at the scale you’re working at, I guess, whereas with a startup, you are in a more rapid, let’s just try it.
[00:11:51] Si: Let’s just try it. We, we take that back quick.
[00:11:54] Lewis Prescott: yeah.
[00:11:55] Si: changing your mindset to be more, you know, quality first rather than. Product first. That’s
[00:12:03] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. That we’re very product first at the moment. And it’s not that the two can’t work well together. Right? Like, as you’re saying about doing. Um, like AB test checking stuff in production. That absolutely is fine, but we’ve gotta have the infrastructure around it to be able to achieve that.
[00:12:24] Lewis Prescott: And that means building in the, the test that means building in the ability to switch it on and off. And that’s where that kind of mindset just doesn’t really exist. But it is often because people that work in startups have been used to that they started as one, two man team or women team. And so we can achieve that.
[00:12:48] Lewis Prescott: Right. It’s just, flipping it and also bringing people along for the ride. We don’t want to just like say, okay, you’re not doing it your way anymore. We need to get them on board with it.
[00:13:01] Si: But again, I think you have to go into that mentality of going, what do you think went wrong with, uh, and get them to realize what the options are and do it themselves rather than you going, this is what should be doing, get on with it. And it is letting go of that approach, I guess. Isn’t it
[00:13:16] Lewis Prescott: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah.
[00:13:17] Si: fair play. So, yeah.
[00:13:19] Si: I mean, how long have you been testing, uh, working in the testing world?
[00:13:24] Lewis Prescott: Eight years now. Um, I started. Yeah. After I graduated, didn’t know the job existed and then yeah, stumbled into it as lots of testers do.
[00:13:35] Si: sure. Oh, okay.
[00:13:37] Lewis Prescott: But yeah, I did a psychology degree at uni, so had no technical background coming into it. Then I worked for a recruitment company who did software for like analyzing people’s personalities and yeah, all that kind of testing before you get a job.
[00:13:58] Lewis Prescott: And then. I worked out that there’s a software side that exists and I was doing a lot of testing in that role as alongside all the other things that you do, when it’s a five person team. I did marketing, I did, my main title was support. Right. So picking up the phones and calling customers and all that stuff, which I really didn’t enjoy.
[00:14:20] Lewis Prescott: Uh, but yeah, did all that stuff. And then did a graduate scheme off the back of that, when I realized I wanted to go into the software side things.
[00:14:31] Si: So what, at what point was it? The graduate point was about five, six
[00:14:36] Lewis Prescott: So that was, about eight years ago. So I don’t qualify. Yeah. I don’t qualify those first couple of years as . Cause I didn’t know why I was doing it. Right. Like, uh, there was no formal training or anything. It was just like literally clicking stuff on the page. and then yeah, I did the graduate scheme where they kind of, teach you the basics, the fundamentals of all aspects of testing and a bit of programming. And then, yeah, I just kind of, it was a consultancy based business. So you get put on different projects, you learn on the job, they’re charging you for a senior personnel. So you kind of, yeah. You really step up in terms of your, learning and, and your develop, within that environment. So I did that for a couple of years. And then, yeah, I’ve just kind of dotted around in different testing jobs, throughout.
[00:15:34] Si: Fair play. And so in those past eight years, you’ve gone from grad to lead and that’s quite a hell of a shift, especially in testing industry. Right?
[00:15:42] Lewis Prescott: Well, I went from grad to lead within three and a half years,
[00:15:49] Si: Whoa, foul
[00:15:49] Lewis Prescott: uh, which was, because I went to a startup right. Straight out of my graduate scheme. I left the graduate scheme and I went to a job which was working for a startup and yeah, I just kind, showed what I could do. And they were like, okay, we’ll, we’ll help you achieve that.
[00:16:09] Lewis Prescott: So yeah, we’ll put you into this lead position, but obviously provide you any support we needed. Cuz the lead at the time she moved into a, a more business analyst role. So she was like the, then became the lead BA on that. So, yeah, I stepped up into her QA role, but she was still there to offer any support where I needed it, but that was where I, I was line managing people.
[00:16:35] Lewis Prescott: I had no idea what I was doing and yeah, I was still kind of learning a lot. So yeah, at that point I was like, okay, yeah, I’m not ready for this. And I wouldn’t recommend people go that quickly, like into that position.
[00:16:49] Si: Yeah, it’s a tricky one. Right? Cause I think again, it’s good to learn first, fast and fail and all that sort of stuff, but agree. Don’t go in there blind to what is expected from you.
[00:16:58] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, for sure. I think, yeah. And I, I endorse this a lot, especially with, with my, uh, like team is working with a near peer. So someone who’s like just at that next step of that journey and has a bit more experience than you and getting like mentorship or, or coaching from them. I think that is such a valuable like, experience to have as an individual.
[00:17:28] Lewis Prescott: And so when you’re put in this like lead position, especially in a startup, there’s no one else, right? Like there’s no one else for you to look up to no one else for you to kind of fall back on in terms of, the experience.
[00:17:41] Si: No, you’re right. And I, I agree with you in that sense, actually having a, someone you can look up to, but necessarily in a more senior role, just someone with a bit more experience or a slightly different perspective on it. The fact that you sort of stepped into a BA’s shoes as you were. Also shows that sort of closeness with the business analyst, QA sort of responsibility and skills.
[00:18:01] Si: Cause there is a lot of overlap. I don’t think people fully appreciate. And I find actually QA is probably lean closer to BA’s than engineering half the time because of the ways of working and the, the considerations you’ve gotta put in place as part of your strategy.
[00:18:16] Lewis Prescott: Definitely. And, and the route people take often as well into QA is people often don’t, um, have that programing background, or they don’t want to take that direction in their careers. Right. So they want to kind of take that more holistic approach. And so, yeah, I think that does lend itself to, to that side of things.
[00:18:37] Si: Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting how you mentioned your grad program was a testing grad scheme rather than a software engineering’s grad scheme. So I often see engineers go either way. It’s like software grad scheme and then spin off into QA or testing because that’s what they prefer to do.
[00:18:53] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. And I think when you do a grad scheme in software, it’s like, it’s so hard to get to a position where you would be a developer straight off the back of it, right? Like the intensity of those courses does not lend itself to being a programmer straight away. It’s similar to someone coming from a compute science degree.
[00:19:15] Lewis Prescott: You have a very theory based, and you’ve done a couple of projects within your, your degree, but actually that doesn’t make you a good programmer. So. It’s getting that confidence. And I think QA is, is a good route in order to achieve that.
[00:19:32] What’s your most favorite part of the testing and QA responsibilities, you like to focus on the most?
[00:19:39] Lewis Prescott: That’s a good question. I like breaking stuff. Hence why I’m a tester. Um,
[00:19:44] Si: it’s always a great one.
[00:19:47] Lewis Prescott: nice. It’s nice.
[00:19:48] Si: Goes back to your childhood roots.
[00:19:49] Yeah, yeah. I think for me, I love problem solving and like, I really enjoy the challenge of it. So yeah, things that involve coming up with some complex problem and you’ve got to solve it. Like, yeah, there’s a really complex legacy application. You need to work out. Okay. I need to get this data out of it. How am I gonna engineer that? And like, testability for me is another exercise that I really enjoy because there’s stuff that’s really hard to test. But I will try as hard as I possibly can to come up with a solution. I think that’s, that’s the part of my job that I really enjoy.
[00:20:30] Si: cool. And, uh, what, what, what’s kind of your next goal, I guess I think you’ve, you’ve alluded to like the leadership stuff. Is there anything within that you’d like to focus on a bit more?
[00:20:40] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I think for me, I’m, I’m not really sure what the next step is like QA lead is kind of the top, I guess, in terms of QA. So, my current objectives within my company are to learn more about the other areas like product, learn more about operations. So I can maybe step into a engineering manager role or step into a CTO role later down the line.
[00:21:10] Si: Do you prefer working in the startup environment as well? Rather than going back to like large scale organizations?
[00:21:15] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I like the startup world because of the speed, of how it works and also how you can influence on a on a it’s a smaller scale, right. So you can influence much easier. Uh, so yeah, I, I much prefer that.
[00:21:35] Si: sure. Yeah. I’ll. And it gives you something to work with, right? Cause at least it’s a closer remit that you can focus on and gives you a bit more autonomy. Cuz let’s be blunt. If you’re in a large organization, you get a lot less, um, opportunity to push things
[00:21:48] Lewis Prescott: Exactly, that. Yeah.
[00:21:49] Si: Fair play dude. So let’s go into your typical average working day.
[00:21:54] Si: I’m not saying, you know, it’s the same every day, cause it never is. But how does your day start, end, how do you organize your thoughts? All that sort of stuff.
[00:22:02] Lewis Prescott: Mm-hmm yes. It’s changed a lot. Having a little girl, uh, who is almost 15 months. I mean in the first year, every two weeks are different when you’ve got a kids. So it’s really hard to get into any kind of routine. Uh, but we’ve got dog as well. So I take the dog out in the morning, whether that’s with my daughter attached to me or, uh, in the pram, either way.
[00:22:27] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, we all go out together and, we come back for some breakfast and then she’s off to the child, mind if it’s that day of the week. but yeah, it’s a lot of juggling in the morning and like, yeah. Getting to a position where I can get everything done before the day starts, but I’m super lucky in that we’ve got flexible working. I’ve got a flexible job and most of the engineers work in Europe, so they’re an hour ahead of us anyway. So, yeah, we have that kind of flexibility. Um, but my wife works for a healthcare company also, which have very specific hours. So. she needs to be online at a certain time and also finishes at a certain time.
[00:23:12] Lewis Prescott: So yeah, I’m often in charge of drop offs and pickups, and then I’ll fit some work around where I can, if needed. Usually I I’ve done most of my work during the day, but yeah, I can always D into it in the evening if I need to.
[00:23:31] Si: So you mentioned the, the team are mostly European based. So I imagine most of your days would fit around the typical nine to five with a bit of flex eight, six ish, whatever. Um, are there anyone else beyond Europe, like you work with as well?
[00:23:44] Lewis Prescott: We did before we worked with an agency that were based in south America, in, um, Argentina. And they had some devs in Uruguay and stuff like that. So we did work with them and then all your meetings are in the afternoon and yeah, it’s cramp packed. So the morning, you’re trying to get all your work done.
[00:24:04] Lewis Prescott: And then in the Mo afternoon, you’ve gotta your meetings. That is one thing being a lead, right. It’s like my day is so heavy with meetings. but yeah, I’ve managed to kind of engineer it now in that I’m optional to a lot of things. So I’ll just drop in when I can, rather than just being there and then realizing that you don’t need to be there. And then yeah, it’s difficult. Yeah.
[00:24:30] Si: That’s a fair point though. Cause like, if you don’t need to be on a meeting, don’t go, you know, just, just get someone to invite you along if you’re need at that point or put something in the chat because you know, if you’re using slack teams or whatever, there is also a text. At where you can catch up or record it, you know?
[00:24:46] Si: And I, I, I think I put something last week about, on LinkedIn, around, uh, no agenda, no agenda. I think everyone should try and kind of encourage that. If, if I don’t see the point in the meeting, I’m probably not gonna.
[00:24:59] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. Yeah. And I think often you feel like you should invite people, but actually, like, I think you can have a small set of people and especially when you’ve got a lot of generalists, right. Like people know when they, they need a specialist advice. Should kind of work on that mentality in my opinion.
[00:25:19] Si: That’s fair. And because you you’ve mentioned earlier that you are leading other leads, you can effectively give them the opportunity to step in or step up. And then you are there as a backup, more than a, you know, the, the main man as it were.
[00:25:32] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I’ve fallen into slack trap a bit too much though, in terms of you give people a responsibility and then they’re not quite sure what the responsibility entails, and then you realize that they’re not doing what you expected them to be doing, and then you reverse the level of autonomy. And then yeah, it gets really messy after that. So, yeah, it’s, it’s all lessons that you learn, right? Like along the way,
[00:25:59] Si: Setting those realistic expectations up front rather than just letting ’em work it out themselves. Mm-hmm
[00:26:04] And yeah, you work with so many different people. Who’ve had different experiences, like someone expected. Okay. My manager will check up on me if I, if I need to do this, or yeah. Or someone would, sent me a message about what I need to take notes in this meeting. And it’s just like, no, you need to be proactive about stuff, but it is people have different experiences and they working in a workplace, especially remotely, you expect people to have had certain experiences, but actually you almost need to have the conversation with them about what experiences have you had in the workplace. and especially the remote thing, because that adds another layer of, okay, you’ve never seen them interact with other people in a room and you’ve never seen, how they adapt to the environment of speaking to people online where you don’t get all of those visual cues and stuff like that, that you would usually get. Also, you have people who are listeners on meetings, and then you have to call them out and say, have you been listening? and it’s just, so it is such a different, like dynamic.
[00:27:17] Si: Yeah. Agreed. I, I, I mean, Probably like you, I worked in, you know, co-located offices for a lot, most of my career. So the pandemic had to just completely change the way I work. I was like, yeah, I’m all for this remote thing. Sounds great. Especially with kids around, but actually you say, like you say the visual cues in a meeting or understanding people’s personalities, and if they are gonna be very proactive in a conversation or just be off camera for a reason, you don’t know, and it’s, it’s so hard to get right. But like you say, you need to learn each other’s mannerisms and personalities have that quick one Toone off lines kind of go well, you’re right in that meeting. Cause you’re very quiet. Yeah, it’s fine. I’m happy with what’s going on. Could you make a few contributions instead next time, cuz we didn’t know. And that was the worst of it. We didn’t sure if you’ve got what we’re talking about.
[00:28:02] Indeed. Yeah. I think going back to the, um, coworking thing. is our office is like very optional attendance. So we’re very lucky we get that remote thing. And so I go in once a week and then if people wanna come in, then we’re there. Right. But, the commute is one thing that obviously before I had kids, I didn’t have to worry about getting back to the child mind of before they start finding you. But, the amount of time you save in the community is just absolutely insane.
[00:28:34] Si: How far is your commute to the office just in
[00:28:36] Lewis Prescott: It’s literally 45 minutes on the bike, which is nothing like, I’m very, very lucky to get me wrong. I live live in Walthamstow and then cycling into central takes me 45 minutes. So I’m very, very lucky, but you don’t realize the impact that has on your work, right? Like, technically I’m meant to finish at five, but if I was to leave at five on the dot, then I’d run downstairs, get changed into my cycling stuff, get on my bike. And the child mind closes at six. So in order to achieve that, right, like that’s pretty impossible. so then you are leaving at quarter to five in order to get back in time, uh, which is fine because. I can make up the time or I’ve worked through lunch or whatever. but if I had to do that every day, it’d be stressful.
[00:29:29] Si: Oh, yeah. Believe me. I’ve been there cuz I, I used to travel like for probably an hour and a half every day to London and back on the train, it wasn’t like your lovely cycle. It was stuck on a train for most of it. It was great in a way. Cause I had time to read, to watch something, listen something, make something, but yeah, you’re right. The timings. And if you need to get back for child commitments, family commitments, whatever. It’s so hard and I dunno how we ever did it back then. So regularly either.
[00:29:54] Lewis Prescott: it’s hard to imagine. Um, yeah, I, I get my reading time or listening to podcast time on the dog walk. So that’s my time. And, and then I listen to a podcast on, on the cycle as well. But that’s with the bone conduction headphones. So you can still hear the surroundings.
[00:30:16] Si: yeah, the external influences. You need to be a warrior of when
[00:30:19] Lewis Prescott: exactly, yeah. So safe, still safely cycling while listening. but yeah, I really enjoy those times as.
[00:30:28] Si: You need it. Right. And I think, you know, we get so involved in our jobs nowadays and our families. When do we decompress? how do we process our own thoughts and times?
[00:30:38] Lewis Prescott: Exactly. Yeah.
[00:30:40] Si: So you read your podcasts. Well, you listen to podcasts. Um, anything else you do to chill out?
[00:30:45] Lewis Prescott: I play a lot of sport, play tennis, with a friend who lives just down the road and then go for a runs, try and get out at lunchtime. For a run, if I can sometimes run with the dog as well in the mornings. And then, the usual Netflix in the evenings when you’re absolutely dead. Andgo to the pub with friends and stuff like that.
[00:31:10] Si: it’s just important having a few pins with
[00:31:12] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, I it’s, it is nice living in Walthamstow. We’ve got black cross road, which is like 20 minute walk away and there’s loads of breweries there and they’re all child friendly. So it’s really, really nice. And they’ve all, like, they’ve all got big space for the kids to run around. So yeah, it’s absolutely ideal.
[00:31:32] Lewis Prescott: They often put on kids activities as well. That was like a disco at. New year’s where they did, uh, the new year countdown at 2:00 PM. So the kids could, uh, could enjoy
[00:31:44] Si: we’ve done that before. Yeah.
[00:31:47] Lewis Prescott: so that was really good. Fun.
[00:31:48] Si: Yeah. Oh, amazing. So let’s talk a bit about your, your parenting then, cause I know you say your daughter’s nearly two, did you say.
[00:31:56] Lewis Prescott: She’s 15 months.
[00:31:58] Si: Just gone one month, year then. Wow. So yeah, early stages. And then when did you take this job on? Cause that must have been very close at the same time.
[00:32:06] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. So I started my job after my, parental leave. So I left my previous job. I worked for cancer research before and I left my job and I took two weeks of holiday and I took my two weeks parental leave at the end of that job. And then I, I started the new job when I went back, which I would never do again, seemed like a good idea at the time. Because you take a month off and actually you have nothing to worry about in terms of work, cuz you don’t know the new job and you finished your job. So actually your mind is completely free of work, which is really, really nice.
[00:32:49] Si: Yeah.
[00:32:49] Lewis Prescott: Yeah.
[00:32:50] Lewis Prescott: And you can focus on, on baby. Not that you are that useful in the first few weeks because they’re attached to mom, you’re there for moral support and yeah. Doing the chores, which aren’t very helpful. and yeah, doing those all nighters when they were only sleep on you. so I did that and mentally it was really nice cuz I was completely free in terms of head space, but starting a new job when you’ve got a one month old is really, really difficult, especially when you are, you’re managing people and I was the first QA lead permanent there, so there’s a lot to do. so yeah, I wouldn’t do that again, but that’s what I did. And in the contract, I made sure that they gave me the shared parental leave because you have to be there for a certain amount of time in the contract. It was six months and I’d been there for seven months. So I qualified for the shared parental leave just, So I made sure that that happened before I took the job. So that’s what I really yeah. Really wanted to do. And I took three months off. from my job to look after my
[00:34:06] Si: Wow. So was this assumingly after the six month mark, seven month mark, you were able to take three months off to be with your little one. Oh.
[00:34:15] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. it seemed like a lot at the time because I hadn’t really even started my job really. Like, I was still very much learning. I was still very much building my team. I hired my last person at the time before my leave. I think it was two weeks before I was going, cuz it fell around Christmas as well.
[00:34:36] Lewis Prescott: So it’s Christmas holidays. So I think I hired them two weeks before and then I was gone. so yeah, that was yeah, a lot of stress leading up to my time off. but yeah, no, it worked out well and then took three months.
[00:34:51] Si: yeah, it gave you perfect time to have some with your little one. If she was sort of seven, eight months at that point, I guess.
[00:34:57] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, So she was nine months at that point. And so my wife went back to work at nine months, which is very difficult for a mum to do at nine months. But actually you accrue a lot of annual leave on maternity leave. So the first month was kind of like handover. She was taking a lot of leave and working like one day a week and then yeah, month, two. I was full into the swing of being full-time dad.
[00:35:28] Si: Amazing. It’s definitely a new thing that’s coming to place. Isn’t it? The shared parental leave. I, when we had hour two, it wasn’t even an option. You know, I’ve got a nine year old and a 15 year old now just trying to it. Out’s.
[00:35:39] Lewis Prescott: Oh, okay.
[00:35:40] Lewis Prescott: Yeah.
[00:35:40] Si: Yeah, back then. I was just like, I’ll take the stat leave. That’s all I’ll get. And I’ll take some additional holiday to have my child, which seems bonkers
[00:35:47] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. It’s mad. Isn’t it? Yeah. I think one thing to like, when you are considering taking the, the shared parental, is it very much is unpaid leave for the dad and I think that’s why not many people do it right financially. It probably doesn’t make sense. We had some savings and my wife earn more than me.
[00:36:10] Lewis Prescott: So it makes sense in terms of our family dynamic. But I think it doesn’t make sense for a lot of people, because yeah, dad’s don’t get paid while you’re on parental leave, unless you take it in like the first three months, which obviously no one’s gonna do. but anyway, I did that. And it’s intense, right?
[00:36:29] Lewis Prescott: Like when you go to work and what I didn’t fully appreciate when I was working, but still doing parenting in the evenings was you actually have a break cuz you are in the office. It might be intense way at work, which it was. And I was super knackered when I finish work, but then you go home and you’re you are doing parenting, which is completely different dynamic. Whereas when you are full time, dad, it’s 24 7. There is no break. And I,it is weird to use the word break, but that’s kind of what it is. It’s like a change in setting a change in environment. And I think that is really important to still have when you are doing your full time parenting. So I would advise if you are, if you are doing the, the shared parental thing, make sure that you make time for doing something else.
[00:37:22] Si: What did you do to try and introduce any breaks to the, the parenting day?
[00:37:28] Lewis Prescott: Um, well you get the naps. So, and I started my podcast in month three of share parental.
[00:37:37] Si: Oh, wow. Okay. So you thought, oh, bit of a side hustle while I’m doing this. Yeah. You,
[00:37:41] Lewis Prescott: That was my thing was I can concentrate on something else and yeah. During parenting I can think about, yeah. Content, think about stuff like that and yeah, they nap a lot. Yeah.
[00:37:53] Si: You were able to think about these things while you parented?
[00:37:56] Lewis Prescott: Okay. Maybe not think, but being, being the host as you know, is, the other person does a lot of the work for you. Once I got the, the content down and like the structure, I was like, okay, I wanna chat to this person about this thing. And then I’d just send them a really loose agenda. And then we’d chat. And the recording part is the easy part. Then the editing, the promotional stuff, that’s the hard part. And that’s what I would do once she was in bed, I would get a second wind. And then I, I would crack on with that.
[00:38:31] Si: I mean, you, you summarized it very well. And I do agree that the recording, probably the easiest part, you know, or even arranging these things can be hard work, finding the right calendar spots, especially when you’re parenting, you know, uh, kind of booking a time. No, Maybe join that nap. I don’t know. It’s just not possible, but yeah, like once you’ve got that nipped in, it’s more the editing, the production, the sort of promotion, and that’s the very time consum in, but luckily you can work it around your daily habits, you know, it’s it’s evening work when you have got a bit of energy left and everyone else has gone to bed. It’s nice.
[00:39:05] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. Yeah,
[00:39:06] Si: So, so your podcast, tell us about more about that. What’s um, what’s it all about and you know, what you wanna achieve with.
[00:39:12] Lewis Prescott: So I work in a very niche area of API contract testing, which is something that I’ve talked about a lot at conferences talked about a lot on my blog and stuff like that. And then when I, started doing my side hustle of like working out where I wanted to go with that, that was when I realized, okay, I’ve got this knowledge set that is quite unique and I’m just gonna go full, like into that.
[00:39:43] Lewis Prescott: And I was looking. I had a course, an online course. I had blog content. I had like training sessions, which I was running internally and stuff like that, which I was advertising that I could, uh, do at other companies. But actually the podcast kind of has broadened my audience, I think because I’m bringing guests on and they’re chatting about their experiences.
[00:40:11] Lewis Prescott: So now I have content, which reaches, not just my own experience. Right. Because otherwise I couldn’t talk about it. So yeah. I think it’s been really useful for me to kind of, broaden my, content and being the host of the podcast in that niche area. I’m now kind of the go-to guy for, for that, which link has, has really helped, uh, with my side side
[00:40:36] Si: Nice. So you you’ve kind of used yeah. Your 20% time to identify your niche as it were with contract testing, what’s the podcast called by the way. So
[00:40:45] Lewis Prescott: it’s called how to start API contract testing testing
[00:40:49] Si: should be able to find that quite easily. It’s it’s searchable.
[00:40:51] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. On all the podcast
[00:40:54] Si: Yeah. And have you got the nickname Pact man or something like that? Just to play a bit word
[00:41:00] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, the, uh, URL was available dot code UK. So I was like, oh, I have that. Uh, and then yeah, just built my, my brand around it. and I’m running with it.
[00:41:12] Si: play. Nice. So you’ve done one season so far.
[00:41:15] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I’ve done seven or eight episodes, uh, so far. And yeah, I’ve kind of just chat to people about their experiences with it from juniors to the co-founder of, of PAC flow, one of the origins of it. And so, yeah, I’ve started there. And then I think I’ve got some requests from people who have listened to the podcast for content for season two.
[00:41:41] Lewis Prescott: So I want to go away and kind of work out how I want to, to approach that. I think it might be like some shorter episodes, but much more focused on specific topic. Uh, so yeah, I think that’s what I’m gonna come back with, but I’m taking some time now to, to work
[00:41:56] Si: That’s great. I’m glad you are taking that leaf out that book, uh, seasons, because. That’s one of the reasons I did make life work the same way. I knew that I would not be able to maintain a weekly podcast with all of my other commitments, but time box need to say six or eight. I think you’ve con for eight by the sound of it.
[00:42:12] Si: I’m sticking to my six for now, just to, you know, but again, he just sets expectations with the audience, you know, if they kind of think, oh, well, yeah, he’ll have a blast and you’ll be back later in the year. That’s, that’s pretty normal. It’s quite nicely. And it gives you a chance to reflect.
[00:42:27] Si: That’s what I love about that sort of model.
[00:42:28] Si: You kind of go right, done a season. Is it still working? Is it engaging? Is it, am I enjoying it anymore? And it just gives you a chance to come make sure it’s relevant, hot, and you are enjoying it. Cause I think that’s one of the fundamental points like to get across from the early stages.
[00:42:42] Si: It’s your podcast, not theirs and wants to
[00:42:46] Lewis Prescott: Yeah, exactly.
[00:42:47] Si: Nice.
[00:42:47] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. I think I left on a real or high as well. Like yeah. I interviewed Matt, the co-founder of PAC flow as my last episode and yeah, I really enjoyed making that episode. Me and Matt have been chatting for a long time and it was really great to get him on and yeah, I was really proud of that one.
[00:43:05] Lewis Prescott: So it was really nice to leave on that note. Um, and then yeah, gives me the energy to come back.
[00:43:11] Si: Brilliant. So what’s the plan then with the podcast, you’ve taken a break now, when, when do you think
[00:43:18] Lewis Prescott: Um, I’ve got a couple of things probably at the end of the summer, I will start producing episodes again. probably looking September time, I will come back with some new episodes. Uh, Yeah, exactly. Gotta stick to it now.
[00:43:36] Lewis Prescott: Um, but yeah, I really enjoyed making it and obviously it’s free content, right?
[00:43:42] Lewis Prescott: So like, it is very much your own time and your own effort, that goes into it, which takes a lot of hours. But actually I think the, the value that I get back from it, I think that’s a lot more than a blog post or talking at a meetup or talking at a conference. I really think the span is much better. and as I said, like, I listen to a lot of podcasts just in my day to day. And for me, it’s much easier to consume that than to make time for a, blog article.
[00:44:17] Si: No, you’re right. And that’s a good point, especially as a parent, you know how valuable your time is, but you can listen to a podcast when you want, it’s like, you know, on demand content effectively. It’s just, you listen to it when you’re ready and you don’t need to be able to focus on it. It’s just background, which is what the other to podcasting for me.
[00:44:34] the episodes that I like are when you’ve got guests on it. So that’s what the format I wanted to do. So I find it really hard to listen to one person talk for however long their podcast is. I find that tough. I dunno, some people, maybe it works for them, but I need some, some form of interaction.
[00:44:57] Si: I, I agree with it’s the feedback I like and the bouncing around the conversation. I mean, we had an outline to this conversation, but we’ve not stuck to that. You can’t,
[00:45:05] Yeah, it’s nice to listen to a natural conversation
[00:45:08] Si: I think so, but I agree that the monologue mode I’m in two minds about, I think some people do prefer it, but you have got to concentrate. You can’t just listen to it in the background. Like, uh, even as a few comedians, just having to laugh. That’s what I’ll love listening to normally as well.
[00:45:23] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. Definitely
[00:45:24] Si: So cool man. So expect more content in September then and we’ll, uh, see how that goes.
[00:45:30] Lewis Prescott: I reckon. Yeah.
[00:45:32] Si: Wicked, dude. So, um, yeah, I guess we’re close on time now, but uh, how can people get hold of you and find out more about all this cool stuff you doing?
[00:45:39] Lewis Prescott: Yeah. So you can look at my website, Pactman, co, UK. You can contact me through there. Uh, and all my videos and yeah. Podcast and stuff is all on there. And then I go by, Wuig Prescott on Twitter. So if you want to reach out to me on there, then feel free. Um, and then obviously I’m on LinkedIn well
[00:46:00] Si: Nice. Get all your deets in the, uh, show notes. People can just click through as well, but, um, Lewis always a pleasure mate. And, uh, I really appreciate your time, on this, especially with all your other demands. um, yeah. Thanks for joining me, mate.
[00:46:14] Lewis Prescott: Thanks so much for having me. Hopefully. Yeah.
[00:46:18] Si: I think it was in there somehow. It, it worked out in the end all good
[00:46:23] Lewis Prescott: There’s some flow to the, to the conversation. Cool. Cheers. Ready?
[00:46:24] Si: Thanks again to Lewis for joining us this week. Really interesting stuff about how he’s used shared parental leave and part-time work to find his own balance. Make sure you connect with Lewis on Twitter or visit his website, pactman.co.uk to find out more about his podcast.
[00:46:40] Si: That’s all from me for this week. Remember to like review and subscribe to the podcast. Reach out to me at Si on Twitter or email. Hello at make life work podcast.com. I’ll be back next week with another wonderful guest sharing their stories about how they make life work.