Homecoming: Just as Avanade has transformed over the years, Mark Binning has as well
- Posted on February 24, 2021
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Our “Homecoming” series tells the stories of Avanade “boomerangs,” employees who left the company for other opportunities before returning. Careers are long and winding, and personal and professional aspirations vary from person to person. It’s natural for people to want to branch out, but wherever you go and whatever you do, there is always a home for you at Avanade.
When I look back to 2011, when I first joined Avanade, it seems like it should feel a lot longer ago than it does. I’ve actually spent more than 20% of my entire life working here – and about 50% of my working career! And if I think about all the other things that have happened to me over that time – marriage, houses, kids – 2011 seems like a whole different era.
But in reality, my career at Avanade has zoomed by.
I clearly remember Sally, my HR contact, opening the door to her office on Beak Street in central London for my interview to become a software engineer. She’s still a friend and colleague. I remember the interview questionnaire, which included questions such as, “How do you deploy a feature with a connected event handler assembly to SharePoint 2007?” I remember chatting with Andy, my hiring manager, who also is still a friend, fellow Workplace Experience architect and now my career adviser.
I remember my first day and the company orientation with my fellow new joiners, “the Two Tonys,” guys who, despite our entirely different career paths, I still occasionally work with, laugh with and grumble about projects with. Last year I found one of them up on a big hill near my home, ready to mountain bike the 40km trek over the Surrey Hills, but that’s a completely different story.
The point is, people stick around at Avanade, become friends and trusted colleagues for a reason. Avanade is rated in the Top 5 Places to Work in the U.K., a recognition that in my view is well deserved.
So why did I choose to leave Avanade in 2016?
It had nothing to do with Avanade itself. I was comfortable and happy at the time, but I received a direct offer from one of the U.K.’s oldest and most prestigious asset managers that was, on paper, too good to pass up. The position would give me a chance to be solely responsible for owning an entire digital workplace, from its design to its upkeep. While that was great in principle, I later found that it wasn’t really what I was after and, as sometimes happens, the job wasn’t exactly what I had been promised, either.
Mostly, I found that the pace of life working directly for a client rather than being hired by a client to deliver something specific is very different. I had a lot of plans that I knew how to deliver, but the pace was slow and difficult, compared to the sense of delivery urgency that comes from the requirements of a contract. I missed the pace, structure, energy and efficiency of the Avanade delivery lifecycle and my former responsibilities that came with it.
While I had a lot of fun working with the lovely people there, the long and short of it was that within a year, I reached out to Avanade HR. The old guard vouched for me, and I was back home doing what I love three months later.
The story has an unexpected happy ending. The company I worked for briefly is now an Avanade client. We helped them successfully achieve the SharePoint 2010 to 2016 migration I had designed for them while I was there, and I hope we will partner with them further in the future.
What have I seen change in 10 years?
For one, Pam Maynard, the U.K. general manager who popped in to say hello to her new London recruits on my first day at Avanade in 2011, is now our CEO. She made such an impression on us that day and we remain very proud of her over here.
We’ve seen several big changes in our business structure, as we have matured into a much larger, global company. Digital Workplace, Azure, Office 365, Teams, Azure, agile delivery and user experience design were all concepts that were emerging or did not exist in 2011, but now fill my working day. From a technology perspective, we’ve seen our own digital transformation into an online, globally connected and federated, cloud-based organization built and run almost entirely on Microsoft 365.
As for me, I’ve been through my own transformation, supported by strong leadership and guidance at every turn.
During my time at Avanade, I’ve been a developer, a project lead, a technical solution architect, a trusted client advisor, a talent community champion and, hopefully, a trusted career adviser. I’ve been a member of two talent communities and now I reside in the Workplace Experience solution area, helping structure client relationships, deals and contracts, and working with our WX leadership to improve our offerings.
I’ve even achieved the goal that temporarily drew me away from Avanade. I have spent the past year being responsible for the design and upkeep of an entire digital workplace, one that showcases our assets and offerings for our business development and advisory communities.
It’s been some ride so far! While I don’t regret leaving – it was worth it to find out my grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence, I am very glad to be back. And I’ll be sticking around to see what else happens.