I’ve spent over a quarter of a century working in Information Technology. Throughout that time I’ve been a systems engineer, a network engineer, a security consultant, a technical consultant, a product marketing manager, a product manager and a business development director. With that variety of experience, if there’s just one thing I now realise it’s the more I learn, the less I know. I would say my experience has given me the tools to ask better quality questions, to speed up the next phase of learning. Because I’m still constantly learning.
Near the beginning of my career, I was lucky enough to work for the largest corporate internet provider in the world during the dot-com boom. People external to the company used to say to us “we’ve heard three months in UUNET is like a year in any other company!". With hindsight, I would say a month was more like a year. It was the most compressed and accelerated learning experience of my career, and it was fantastic.
I then spent 15 years freelancing and consulting, mainly on infrastructure architecture and engineering, with almost a decade of that time in investment banking. Designing large-scale infrastructures that simply cannot go wrong was interesting.
With a couple of decades of experience under my belt, I realised I’d become more interested in how technology helped people, rather than the tech itself. I joined an automation software startup, a little over a year old, and moved into the business side. After a year of running the European side of that business we were acquired by Red Hat. During this time I also took a keen interest in building companies — how you set, nurture, and maintain a culture. How to support innovation, yet maintain trust and stability. Tricky balancing acts that are about people, not technology.
As a generalist, I often work in roles that are a bridge between people. All this experience has taught me empathy for every side of a story, so roles that have a requirement to understand diverse views suit my skills well. Business Development and Product Management are two places I’ve found enjoyment and value in recent times.