E73 - Adrian Farrel at Old Dog Consulting

George Barnes
Adrian Farrel

By George Barnes & Adrian Farrel

Our Co-Founder George Barnes was joined by Adrian Farrel, the Owner of Old Dog Consulting, the author of Tales from the Wood, and the Chair of L2SM and I2NSF working groups at IETF. During his career, Adrian has worked as the IETF Routing Area Director at Huawei and the IETF Routing Area Director at Juniper Networks. He talks to us about his experience working for some of the biggest companies within the tech space as well as some important lessons he’s learned along the way.

He essentially started as a Mathematician studying at university. He was seeing his final approach and decided it was best to get a job before getting his results. He knew how to program computers, so began his job hunting. He decided he wanted to look for smaller companies because they seemed more friendly and hassle-free. Attended a few interviews and came across a British software house called Data Connection which, at the time, was working on a point of sale and retail system and back office. Part of the back office focused on communications. Once he joined he found his focus in the communications part.

Being in the industry for as long as he has, the biggest change he has seen is the amount of RAM that is on a communications device. It may sound crazy to the younger generation but back when he started and was writing code to emulate a sull SNA stack from top to bottom on a PC, it had 512k of RAM on it, so they had to page communication programs from a disc to get the relevant bits of binary into the computer at the right time.

When it comes to what he has learnt during these years of being in the industry, it is as simple as “people are just people”. It’s possible to disagree with someone and believe they are missing the point completely but then be able to relax about it, go back out and socialise with them, be friends with them and still be able to disagree with what they said. It could come around to bite you if you decide to argue about it because these people could one day be your colleagues or even worse, be your employer in the future.

Old Dog Consulting…

Old Dog Consulting are a Consultancy that deals with large companies that want to bring their ideas into standardisation or understand what’s going on in standardisation. They also work with start-ups who want to make a splash or want to get going quickly and understand what’s going on and what isn’t. He also does academic and research projects.

Building cohesive relationships…

If you need information about an idea, turn to the people who are available to you and very quickly you’ll get entrenched in your own ideas. The way of overcoming that is to have pressure-free conversations and that can take a lot of work. “Sometimes it needs beer and food and understanding the other person isn’t a threat and what they actually want is the right solution”.

The transition period from working for these large businesses to starting up his own small Consultancy worked really well for Adrian for many reasons. He loves that people come to him and ask for his professional help, which he finds very flattering. He also likes to be able to pick and choose whom he works with and finally, he likes that he isn’t subject to large company processes.

Our final section takes us to our quickfire round where Adrian shares some of the best advice he’s ever been given. Make sure you tune in now to listen!