Three months ago, I finished what would end up being the most important experiment of my career… I was happily working away for 9 years at the same company, progressing through the ranks. I was in the middle of a conversation with a buddy when he asked “Do you like being a generalist or a specialist?” Simple enough question… harmless really. However, reality is that I could not actually answer it with any certainty. My opinion on being a specialist was pure conjecture as I only knew 9 years of a being a generalist.
Coincidentally, I was approached by a VMware TAM regarding an opportunity to work with a team in a Virtualization group in Portland. There was nothing I did not like about my original job… to this day, I cannot pin point anything I did not like. So, I accepted the position and, as graceful and grateful as possible, bowed out to join a team of some amazing individuals as part of the Virtualization group. The scale, the processes, the mechanics, the exposure, and the potential were all fantastic. Though, something was missing.
- Traveling around the world.
- Designing datacenters.
- Mergers and acquisitions.
- Evaluating technologies and systems that can have a significant impact on the direction and success of a company.
- Designing and implementing systems from soup to nuts.
The end of the 9 month period lead to the most clarity about my career that I had since starting at the original company 9 years prior. I love being a generalist. I can say that with a solid level of confidence now as I have experienced what I believe to be representative of a specialist. How, then, to resolve this issue? While leaving my new virtualization post was the obvious answer, going somewhere else was going to be the tough task. Where in the world could I get my fix for everything I realized I find value in?
I approached my wife about the situation and before I could even tell her my idea, she beat me to the punch: Go back to where you came from.
As luck would have it, my position had not been filled yet. I approached my old boss and started a process that took me back to my original company. Though, in an upgraded position that is serving as the most challenging and enjoyable role yet.
Three months ago, I finished being a specialist and returned to my original company as the Lead Technical Systems Analyst / Architect. “Architect” is a title I have been striving for and, quite honestly, is flattering and the biggest challenge ever.
Aumie, Steve, Brian, Jeff, Tod, Will, Walter, Jon, and Rich were amazing coworkers and they were the most difficult things to leave behind. But, walking into the old office, sitting at my pristine (though dusty) desk, and having a myriad of people (including almost every CxO and VP) welcome me back was such an amazing day.
I am back. I am a generalist. I could not be any happier!