An amazing 15 years – here’s to what’s next?

2017 Update – If you’re just finding this post, I’ve since taken a position at Rubrik per this followup post. I’ll leave this here for posterity’s sake + the book list. Hopefully helpful for other people looking at a sabbatical or job change…

Or…I resigned – what now?

At our best, we are the dreamers, the visionaries for our customers.

tl;dr version (aka Summary)

  • looking for new role (left previous one on good terms – see below for why)
  • highly experienced with datacenter technologies in multiple arenas (storage – EMC, NetApp, virtualization, EUC, networking, security, CI, HCI, on multiple partner technical advisory boards, etc.)
  • 7 years customer background (admin to engineer to architect) – 2 years Helpdesk before that while in college
  • strong presales track record in 8 years with partners/VARs (SE to manager to director)
  • technical while communicating well at multiple org levels (admin to engineer to director to CxO) including public speaking – “a nerd who’s allowed to talk” (see below)
  • passionate learner and lover of technology plus fascinated by the intersection of business & technology – 3x EMC Elect, 5x vExpert, lots of certs to the degree they matter (see LinkedIn for those) – this has helped me respond to market shifts
  • able to start at a strategic/big picture level but appropriately dive into the technical weeds/down the stack
  • Gallups StrengthsFinder results below – Achiever, Responsibility, Analytical, Strategic, Learner
  • always focused on what can be done vs. what can’t be done
  • based out of Greenville, SC – comfortable with what I call medium travel (say ~50%) but not Monday to Friday every week on a plane/in hotels.
  • looking for a role focused on building and creating – given my skillset mix could be (no particular order) field CTO, office of the CTO, practice manager, product manager, technical marketing, evangelist, presales SE and/or overlay, IT Director or CTO – I’m less focused on the title and more focused on where I can make an impact.
  • Contact me via Twitter DM (@andriven) or email (andrew@thinkmeta.net) – I’d love to chat!

Read below for more details… (Long Post Alert – quotes that resonated for me along the way to make it a bit more interesting/less self-centered)

Sidenote: obligatory LinkedIn Profile – https://www.linkedin.com/in/andriven

‘Leadership has little to do with authority – more to do with knowledge and being a servant leader.’ From Scrum.

Why write this?

Simply put, I’d like to cast a wide net in finding possibilities for my next career step using this post, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other means. Usually when job hunting we have to skulk around in the shadows making surreptitious phone calls or sending text messages in the bathroom – I’d bet everyone reading this has been there. Imagine you could publicize your desire for a new role along with a “better than a resume” writeup of where your head is. That’s the goal of this post. I realize I am incredibly blessed to be able to take this approach.

Note: prior to my resignation I’d not read about Kenneth Hui or Keith Townsend taking a similar approach (resigning without a new job in hand + searching publicly). Since then, I have read many of their blog posts and listened to their Geek Whisperer’s podcasts – highly recommended.

‘There is a great humility needed to survive in the tech industry.’ Matt Brender & Brian Gracely on The Geek Whisperers

An Amazing 15 Year Run

7 years as a customer moving from an admin to an engineer to an architect (I owe a lot of my later success to my experiences as a customer – thanks Tom Berg for being an amazing manager who taught me a lot), 8 years on the partner side – 2 years with Data Network Solutions as hybrid presales/postsales focused on virtualization and storage (thanks Bernard and Gary for helping me jump to the partner side), 5 of those years with Varrow in a senior presales role to manager/director during which we saw explosive 5x growth capped by the acquisition of Varrow by Sirius Computer Solutions last year (thanks AJ, Dan, and Jeremiah for taking a chance on me), and finally this last year with Sirius Computer Solutions as “Manager – CI & Storage”.

During my time at Varrow I was honored to be TC (SE) of the Year two years in a row. It’s impossible to properly thank the hundreds of customers I’ve worked with over the last 8 years for the trust they’ve placed in me – from SMB to mid-market to enterprise. It’s truly humbling to have people look to you for expertise + recommendations and not wanting to let them down.

Later addition: I realized I’ve not hit on any technical experience…here’s a smattering.

  • Writing shell scripts in bash to add DNS zones to a custom internal/external BIND DNS setup with ISC DHCP (thanks to O’Reilly for great books and Cricket Liu in particular)
  • Many overnight Novell Netware upgrades – I still shed a tear over eDirectory at times and am still Novell CNA since it never expires.
  • Upgrade a cross-campus Cisco 5500 pair to Cisco 6500 pair with HSRP, multiple protocols (hello IPX!), and many VLANs
  • Hands-on VI3 through vSphere implemetations and then architecture – VCP3 until now
  • Many storage array architectures (pool layout) for both NetApp and EMC arrays
  • If curious about other areas, let me know or look at LinkedIn a bit.

Moving into a presales manager role with 10-15 direct reports and then director was an incredible learning experience and very humbling. Given a team of high performers, my primary goals were around coaching and enabling. Despite moving up the org chart, I sought to remain fairly technical and be more of a player/coach than manager. Reflecting that, I represented Varrow and later Sirius at multiple Partner Technical Advisory Boards/Partner Technical Summits even as recently as this year (along with multiple people on my team – no desire to keep those on my team from advancing). My time at Varrow and later Sirius was very valuable…but also Non-Stop Busy. On balance I thrive on a fast pace and enjoy it.

‘Culture is an echo chamber of the things that we celebrate with leaders having a wider impact radius.’ Chad Sakac on The Geek Whisperers podcast

Stop the world, I’d like to get off (for a little while)

That’s the crux of it – my wife’s family is in Southeast Asia and I had a lot of points and miles. In short it was too tempting to not take a several month sabbatical (leaving Sirius on good terms and working out a several week notice), spend time with family overseas, and visit 7 countries. In 11 weeks we were in Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Bali, Perth, Hong Kong, Malaysia. Lots of memories and zero regrets….an incredible experience.

I was able to keep up with tech via Slack, my RSS feeds, and even met up with some industry peers while in Singapore (huge thanks to Chad Sakac and Ed Walsh for the intros!). I enjoy this business too much to ignore it for 3 months.

IMG_0746.jpg

View from the Grand Club @ Grand Hyatt Bali – relaxing place to read and ponder.

So what now?

Along with travel and family time, I’ve spent some of the last 3 months expanding myself a bit (see book list below) as well as being somewhat introspective. According to Gallup StrengthFinder, my top 5 strengths are…

  1. Achiever – according to Gallup this is
    • People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  2. Responsibility – this is….
    • People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  3. Analytical – this is…
    • People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
  4. Strategic – this is…
    • People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  5. Learner – this is…
    • People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Beyond that, I believe I’m one of the “nerds allowed to speak” as Geek Whisperers calls them whether to customers, internal training/presentations, or larger events. I have some examples there if don’t want to take my word for it though. Where did this come from? Although it’s been a while, I went to Nationals in Extemperaneous speaking in high school as well as competed  in 45+ tournaments of extemp and Lincoln-Douglas (philosophy) debate (6-3-7-3-4-6-3 will always stick with me as well as ‘flowing’ an argument) – incredible opportunities that provided a volume of public speaking and “on your feet critical thinking” experience hard to amass otherwise.

While it might be crazy, I frankly enjoy public speaking despite it requiring serious preparation to do well. As long as we’re discussing greatest fears, I’m ironically writing the first draft of this post at 35,000 feet which hits the top 3 fears there in just a couple sentences.

IMG_1723.jpg

Sunrise at 35,000 feet over Alaska

Books read/Podcasts listened to during my sabbatical (aside from lots of general tech news reading via Feedly/RSS)

Got a recommendation to add to that list? Let me know!

‘Authenticity brings power because it’s hard to combat.’ Chad Sakac on The Geek Whisperers podcast

What kind of role?

As mentioned above, I’m not too set on titles or even where I fall in the org structure. I am comfortable with what I call medium travel (say ~50%) but not Monday to Friday every week on a plane/in hotels.

That could be a wide range from an organizational structure standpoint when I look at manufacturer vs. partner/VAR vs. customer. In no particular order, that might mean field CTO, office of the CTO, practice manager, product manager, technical marketing, evangelist, presales SE and/or overlay, IT Director, or CTO.

What about Sirius?

To be completely upfront, I will be discussing roles with Sirius and may very well return to a position there. I owe Sirius a debt of gratitude as they provided some much appreciated flexibility around my resignation. To be precise, my current status is “unpaid extended leave/sabbatical” albeit without an actual position (my position has been backfilled by a very capable Sirius employee). At the same time, I’m very interested in seeing what possibilities are out there and have been upfront with them about this.

What’s next?

First, thanks for reading this far. If you’d like to chat or know of a role that might be a fit, please don’t hesitate to reach out whether via Twitter DM (@andriven) or email (andrew@thinkmeta.net). If you’d like to chat live, just let me know and I’ll shoot you my phone number.

Thanks!

6 thoughts on “An amazing 15 years – here’s to what’s next?

  1. Pingback: Industry Observations – Craziness… | Think Meta

  2. Pingback: My Next Chapter – Rubrik! | Think Meta

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