Posts Tagged ‘career’

Another One Bites The Dust

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Another one bites the dust. Another one bites the dust. And another one gone, and another one gone… – Queen

Companies that have a superficial dual career ladder love to delude themselves into thinking they have a real one. The alternative, which is “unacceptable!” because it would trigger an unsettling feeling of cognitive dissonance and undermine a self-image of infallibility, is to simply own up to the inconsistency and stop lying to themselves and their constituents.


It’s always a sad affair to watch brilliant engineers jump from the dead-end technical ladder to the golden management ladder because it’s the only way they can do more for themselves and their families.

Sometimes the “promotion” works out fine for both the org and the newly minted manager. But sometimes it achieves a double loss. The engineer morphs into a crappy manager with poor people skills, a propensity to obsess over schedules, and a bent toward micro-managing technical details. Plus (or should I say minus?), the org’s product development group loses precious technical expertise. D’oh! I hate when that double whammy happens.


Movin’ On Up

For some unknown reason, I recently found myself reflecting back on how I’ve progressed as a software engineer over the years. After being semi-patient and allowing the fragmented thoughts to congeal, I neatly summed  up the quagmire as thus:

  1. Single Node – Single Process – Single Threaded (SST) programming
  2. Single Node – Single Process – Multi-Threaded (SSM) programming
  3. Single Node – Multi-Process – Multi-Threaded (SMM) programming
  4. Multi-Node – Multi-Process – Multi-Threaded (MMM) programming

It’s interesting to note that my progression “up the stack” of abstraction and complexity did not come about from the execution of some pre-planned, grand master strategy . I feel that I was “tugged” by some unknown force into pursuing the knowledge and skills that have gotten me to a semi-proficient state of expertise in the design and programming of MMM systems.

Being a graphical type of dude, here’s a pictorial representation of how I “moved on up“.

How about you? Do you have a master plan for movin’ on up? Wherever you are in relation to this concocted stack, are you content to stay there – in the womb so-to-speak? If you want to adopt something like it as a roadmap for professional development, are you currently immersed in the type of environment that would allow you to do so?

Which Path?

To all front line managers out there: “which path below did you take when you were promoted out of DIC-land?” To all DICs out there who want to, or are on a course to, move into the brave new world of management, uh, I mean formally anointed leadership: “which path below do you plan on taking?“.

To all those who took or prefer the D&D path, please leave this page now. To the remaining E&E takers and preferrers, please peruse this follow-on diagram:

Will you allow the natural and effortless course of increasing entropy occur after you’ve made your choice, or will you temporarily “hold it together” with effortful due diligence throughout your career – no matter how high you go or how much pressure you feel from your peers?

Is it even reasonable to ask for any overlap between work-work and management-work as one ascends higher up in a hierarchically structured CLORG? For example, in a 10 layer hierarchy, is it insane to expect the dudes in the upper echelons to know something, anything, about the nature of the work that goes on down in the boiler room?

Buzz Me, Please

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out this graphic that I borrowed from “LinkedIn Reveals the 10 Most Overused Job-Hunter Buzzwords“.

Oh crap! Do I use any of these hoytee-toytee terms in my own dishonest LI profile? Wait…. checking….. checking…. Nope! Phew, I thought I might have opened a gaping hole in my armor that would have exposed me as the true hypocrite that I am.

Here’s some advice for recruiters and hiring managers to consider. If you use any of these words-du-jour in your own profile, replace them with something authentic. Then, discard any candidates you stumble upon that use them in their profiles and resumes.

Note1: Being the lazy and useless sod that I am, I didn’t actually check my profile for bozo buzzword usage. So, if you find any of these laughers in there, call me out.

Note2: On my final proofread of this post prior to publication, I actually did search my profile for bozo buzzword usage and….. D’oh! I had actually started my summary off with “I have extensive experience..”. Bummer. Of course, I covered my tracks by changing the opening to “Over the years, I’ve acquired lots of experience…”.

Woodstock Refugee

November 24, 2010 4 comments

I’ve taken some flak from some prim and proper people for the dorky, woodstock-refugee-like pic I’ve posted on my profile:

(In case you’re interested, that’s actually a pic of me on Bourbon Street down in Nawlins during Mardi Gras.) One of the comments that I’ve received on this totally “unprofessional” photo is:

Are you looking for companies who want to hire clowns?

LOL! Well, yeah, I am. If I do want, or have, to start looking for a new company to work for, I don’t want to draw attention from any big and stodgy institution whose HR department members think pictures are important. You see, I think those types of orgs are probably stuck in 1920’s FOSTMA mindsets and I’d rather not spend 40+ hours a week working for them. Of course, this tactic will drastically reduce the number of opportunities available to me, but so what. I’ll take my chances and change tactics if I absolutely have to.

Highly Skilled

Be careful out there. If you acquire deep expertise and develop into a highly skilled worker in a narrow technical domain, you’re walking a tightrope.You may be highly valued by the marketplace today, but if your area of expertise becomes obsolete because of rapid technological change, your career may stall – or worse. On the other hand, if you luckily “choose” your narrow area of expertise correctly, your skillset may be in demand for life. It’s a classic textbook case of supply and demand.

In the software development arena, consider the ancient COBOL and C programming languages. Hundreds of millions of lines of code written in these languages are embedded in thousands of mission-critical systems deployed out in the world.  These systems need to be continuously maintained and extended in order to keep their owners in business. History has repeatedly shown that the cost, schedule, and technical risks of updating big software systems written in these languages (or any other language) are huge. Thus, because of the large numbers of systems deployed and the fact that most software engineers leave those languages behind (and stigmatize them), the supply-demand curve will be in your favor if you stick solely to COBOL or C programming out of fear of change. The tradeoff is that you’ll spend your whole career in maintenance, and you’ll rarely, if ever, experience the thrill of developing brand new systems with your old skillset.

Categories: technical Tags: , , ,


December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Surprisingly, in spite of my relentlessly continuous rants against a sea of CCHs, BMs, and STSJs as far as the eye can see, I’ve been contacted by a handful of recruiters probing into my availability for jumping ship. Either they don’t know this blog exists and they haven’t read any of my blasphemous blog posts, or they have read some of them and they still think I can help their clients make money. The former is most likely, but if it’s the latter, then I’m stunned and I hope their clients have the same 21st century mindset as they do.

Since I’m very happy where I am, I will only consider those proposals that satisfy the following requirements. Of course, they’re presented as a bland, linear, 1970’s list of “shalls”.

  1. The potential employer shall (R-1) offer me 2X my current 6 figure salary
  2. The potential employer shall (R-2) offer me an opportunity to work on a vast array of interesting new product developments or existing product enhancements. I reserve the right to decide what “interesting” means
  3. The potential employer shall (R-3) supply me with all the tools I need to do my job and allow me to work from home 90% of the time.
  4. The potential employer shall (R-4) pay all expenses for me to travel to and from the employer’s home base if the distance between my house and the home base is greater than 20 miles.
  5. The potential employer shall (R-5) entrust me with an unlimited training budget to allow me to continuously probe, sense, cut through the camouflage, and evaluate the applicability of new software technologies to the employer’s product portfolio.
  6. For the sole reason of getting people to listen more closely to what I have to say on matters within my scope of knowledge and expertise, the employer shall (R-6) endow me with some kind of BFT. More than one title would be preferable because it may be the tie-breaker amongst multiple, simultaneous employment offers.

What do you think? Outrageously arrogant and full of hubris? Reasonable and practical? Let me know if you think I should shit-can this post and hope that no internet archive crawlers get a hold of it. D’oh!

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