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 business development director and a product manager. 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. I have a keen interest in good design and the products it can produce.
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 a commercial role. 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.