What's Next?!

I’m faced with an existential question: what do I want to do with my life? I’ve started to narrow some of my thinking down to my “work life” … I’ll try to figure out “life life” later. Here’s my distillation of the kinds of things I’m looking for in my next role…

  1. Work with fellow technologists: I’ve always loved computers, from “Kids Web Camp” in the 1990s to building websites for my middle and high schools. And the way I learned and enjoyed this most was with others: from Dad helping me buy parts and build my PC to sharing my own understanding of technical concepts with my wife (who knows far more than I do now).

  2. Hands-on contributions: I’ve always thought of myself, as a nerd and hacker, not a computer scientist. I like to get my hands dirty enough to figure out a solution, make something work, and learn what’s needed as I go. I want to keep up with technology by doing, not just learning.

  3. Collaborate on and communicate strategy: “alignment” is one of those words you either cringe at or lean into. I’ve found some of the trickiest parts of work always relate to people: what are we doing, why are we doing it, who decided that, who gets to challenge it, can I get involved, etc. Setting a vision, involving and socializing with others, figuring out the details, and delegating decisions (or work) are the kinds of things I’ve enjoyed being a part of most recently.

  4. Coach, mentor, and lead others: I’ve loved managing people and I enjoy learning and working with others from different disciplines and backgrounds. Either directly or indirectly I want to keep helping build and scale teams and help people do their best work.

  5. Learn and grow with the organization: I haven’t figured it all out and certainly don’t know everything. I also recognize that roles (or their context in an organization) often change and I love the work needed to grow and adapt myself. I’m comfortable with ambiguity, scrappy enough to figure things out or seek those that can help me. I want to keep growing.

So what kind of roles or areas do I start to steer towards?

  • Product and Software Development: where I’ve spent most time recently, perhaps through sheer momentum. It’s fun to help a team build something.
  • Go-To-Market: I look back fondly on my time in technology companies and helping with pre-sales, customer success, and any customer-facing work with clear business outcomes. It’s challenging and rewarding work.
  • Consulting: I’ve had a variety of experiences where I got to jump in and assess someone’s needs then do some work to help them get where they want to be. I love helping others and also find it fun to collaborate and come up with a solution or reach some unmet potential.

I’ve been on a “senior management” trajectory for the past few years but bounced around a bit. My long-term goal is likely executive-level management starting at the “Director” level soon. My exposure and experience to the work have been fun and challenging and I think I’d continue to be good at it.

This is how I see myself today and now, with a little more clarity, can begin my search for what’s next…