The move from corporate life to helping build a start-up business is not insignificant – but what a year it’s been! I’ve enjoyed the changes that one might expect to relish when making such a leap of faith: we control our own destiny; we have ownership of the brand and its future direction; the benefit of less corporate bureaucracy; and with fewer personalities to contend with, there’s less politics to overcome. Of course I’m grateful for the invaluable experience I gained at Sainsbury’s – but Geolytix is really reaping the rewards of many useful lessons learned along the way.

Some of my most rewarding moments were beyond my imagination when I embarked on this journey – we’ve explored opportunities in new verticals, been introduced to potential new customers and  ventured into foreign markets – all of which has combined to spark an enthusiasm and joie de vivre that I had buried in my corporate pre-Geolytix world.

I’ve been reminded how much value there is in simply getting out there and talking to people, and I’ve come to know a fantastic group of analysts and managers over the past twelve months. Having survived the pitches – despite previously feeling that presenting wasn’t my forte – I’ve enjoyed the challenge of managing some meaty projects. I’m thoroughly looking forward to building on all these new relationships over the next several years.

Retail is still our focus – and is where a significant amount of my experience stems from – but it’s been refreshing to broaden my outlook and networks. Open data is becoming increasingly important, and so participating in the Open Data User Group (ODUG) and following the work of the Open Data Institute (ODI) has been both fascinating and rewarding.

Another huge benefit of working in a small start-up with a strong team of leaders, is that we understand each other’s priorities and responsibilities. As a working mum, flexible working and support from colleagues has become important to my work-life balance. I’ve gained great satisfaction in proving that it’s possible to successfully mix the two – and my three-year old son has proven himself an excellent decoy on research site-visits!

I haven’t yet made the switch from client to consultant – after eleven years at Sainsbury’s you don’t stop saying “customer” overnight – but I’ve decided I prefer it this way. We’ve learned that our Geolytix team has an amazing combination of skills and personalities. I’m certain that Blair, Simon and Neil utter a few words under their breath whenever I ask them to investigate new hypotheses and explore untested features and functionality – but invariably it leads to a better product, and that makes everyone happier – including our customers.

We continue to grow, and I look forward to welcoming new team members during the year ahead. Of course the most important thing to us is that we don’t lose what we have now. Thanks to everyone who has made the last year a fantastic success.