In 2014, my career went a new direction. I wasn't sure that I wanted to give up programming and become a manager. In fact, a few years back I was more interested in Product Management than People Management. However, 6 months in I feel engaged and love this new role.
I am starting to think I am at a crossroads in my career. I love coding, and more specifically I love solving problems with technology. I love the team I a m on and the role I play on that team. When I think about where I want to be in 5, 10 or even 20 years down the road I can't see myself in engineering. The ladder in engineering still goes higher than the rung I am currently on, but it climbs up to the rooftop of a building I don't want to be on. The engineering ladder leads to senior engineers, lead engineers, and engineering managers. It's still all engineering, and I want to keep learning m ore about the process, more about marketing, more about sales, and more about finance. More importantly, I hate the fact that I have very little strategic in put on our product or what I am building. The problem is in order to change ladders I will have to give up coding. Maybe I am ready to do that maybe I am not , but the opportunity to jump to another ladder is opening up now.
At my company several Product Management jobs are opening up at various points this year and it is making me consider making a switch. Product Management gives me the opportunity to work with engineering, but also with sales, marketing , and finance. The Product Management ladder is different then the engineering ladder in that it forks off in many directions instead of going straight up. This means that I could go a number of different directions as I climb, and in 20 years I can really be anywhere in the organization (except for m aybe HR, fine by me). The best part of a jump to product management is that I still get to solve problems with technology, and that could ease the pain of quitting coding cold turkey. Have any of you faced similar crossroads? I would love to hear some thoughts in the comments.
Recently my wife and I made the decision to have her stay at home with our 8 month old son, Chase. My wife had a good career going, but she worked for a bad company that was getting worse. Initially after Chase was born she decided to go back to work and we put Chase in day care. As time went by and her company got worse and worse, the decision to stay home became easier and easier. Eventually, after a bad day, she decided she would rather be at home then put up with it.
This was a big decision, it changes our lifestyle considerably. We will have stick to a tight budget which will be new for us both (no more daily Starbucks trips for me!). My wife also wonders if she will be able to jump right back into her career when she is ready to go back, and she worries that the house may become her prison (especially in the winter). However, we have no doubt this was the right choice
This is a big change, but I wanted to write more about the companies we both work(ed) for. I work for an amazing company in the software industry, we are ran like typical Silicon Valley startups, we have amazing leadership, and fantastic perks like unlimited vacation. My company values intelligent, hard-working people and puts the employees first, that's why they always rank in best workplace surveys. My wife's old company, on the other, hand is the complete opposite. They are a manufacturing company who's leadership seems to operate under the "you should be happy to have a job in this economy" mantra. The office employees and line employees are segregated like the mostly immigrant line workers are second-class citizens. Most people there don't care about the company, they only care about their paycheck because the company only cares about the bottom line.
I believe when companies put their employees first, those employees will buy in and work their ass off for their employer. I do everyday because I love going to work. These companies give better customer service because their employees have pride in their brand. Just look at the correlation of these two articles "americas happiest workplaces" and "customer service hall of fame", is it a coincidence that Hilton and Google are at the top of both? I don't believe so.
I also dont believe that this is a tech industry thing, even though I considered it. There were many non-tech companies in the lists I linked to above, there are also several here in this 2012 Denver Post survey. If you are good at your job, work hard, and are a good teammate you deserve to work for a place that values their employees, despite the position and despite the economy! Why don't more employers get it? What do you think?