Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Why did I quit?

Well, first I have to admit that this is the second time I'm writing this post, because my beloved Firefox failed on me. And it hurts. Especially because the reason why it failed is so stupid, it couldn't even qualify as a worthy excuse-for-not-getting-your-work-done: it stopped responding. Just like that, frozen on screen, with me trying to salvage what already was written, but couldn't even select the text to copy it.

Damn it. So, now I'm using notepad to write this down first. And I'll be saving regularly.

Back to our business. The reason why I'm writing this post is because I'm fed up with writing superficial posts, about anything or nothing, instead of writing fascinating texts about myself. Here's something I think is worth reading: the reasons why I quit my previous (real) jobs. I ommitted some smaller, temp jobs I did before, which obviously I didn't quit, they were finished...

Starting from the begginning:

TMME - Toyota Motor Europe Marketing and Engineering
Having worked my way from 'the guy that fixes printers and patches cables' to 'the guy that manages NT servers, e-mail, Intranet web servers, FTP servers, the Firewall (and Firewall logs!) and on top of that wrote and maintains the helpdesk and IT inventory application & database' I did enjoy my job at TMME. The Professional challenge was excellent, but my pay and recognition weren't.

After receiving an offer to work for an IT services company, I felt it was time to go. A long discussion later, I changed my mind. After all, I was going to get some added responsibilites, a 3 grade rise and a 25% salary raise, so I had very good reasons to change my mind.

Loitering about the day after (or was it 2 days later, not sure?) I ran against the HR director, who, very confident, told me he was happy my situation was solved and guaranteed that in the coming 3 or 4 months "we'll work out what can be done about your position and salary".

I resigned that same day. To add insult to injury, my boss was proposed to get 2 secretaries to replace me...

EMD - E-MailWare Development (Part I)
Working for EMD must have been one of the most interesting things I've done in my career. We got to do anything, just to keep our customer happy - but mostly we did it to fulfill our own ego. Small company of incredibly motivated people, the sky was the limit. No challenge was too big, no project unfulfilled. We did absolutely everything there was to be done in IT. Me alone, during those 2 years, I remember doing migrations from every possible mail system to any other of your choice, installing and configuring AS/400's, flying to Saudi Arabia to connect 2 mail servers (yes, it could have been done remotely, but it was '99, remember?), deploying Voice-Over-IP, voice recognition software, Solaris, AIX, Novell Netware, NT file servers, fax software, OCR, security audits, whatever. You name it, I'm sure we've done it.

Then, our director decided to byte the hand that fed him for 5 years and hires the complete Lotus Professional Services division in Holland. A new director, a few policy changes and one-too-many "weird economics" theory applied and I was ripe to leave this company. And so I did by joining Lotus.

Lotus Development Corporation
Working for Lotus was amazing. Big, but with very down-to-earth management, Lotus felt like a family of close friends. Again, that feeling that we can do anything was strong in the air, and again I did a bit of everything. After a year I was the only one to get a raise in Lotus Portugal - mostly because I brought profit while the others didn't. Added responsibilities, very challenging work, and a crystal clear career path in front of me. A dream job, I thought at times.

Technical leader for French Speaking Africa, all projects in that region went through me. I advised technically on all of them and intervened physically on a few (Gabon, Algeria). While not in Africa, was toiling away in Paris or Antwerp. Great, great job.

Then IBM took over Lotus. Then my office car-park access got cancelled. Then my contract (should have been) changed for a more IBM-esque one (lower salary if willing to accept, no car and some other stuff - but hey! you would be an IBM employee!! duh). Then my direct boss left to Microsoft (!!! HORROR !!!). Then my French Speaking Africa position was made redundant. Then the biggest snob in the Lisbon office was appointed my boss. Then my PC! had to be re-fitted with IBM standard software and installation procedures (MY GAMES!! MY PORN!!) - of course, this DID NOT happen, though I had to revert to threats of physical injury to avoid disaster. Then, in a swing that could be fit for Machiavelli himself, me - the one person that generated 50% of Lotus Portugal income for the first half of that year - was "politely" accused of having accepted a customer bribe (!!) and, if I was not to quit myself, IBM would take care of it. What?

So, I resigned. Didn't want to work there anyway. See, in your face IBM!

EMD - E-MailWare Development (Part II)
Heart-broken, directionless and utterly under-motivated, I asked EMD for job. An easy-going, not too much demanding job where I could cure my heart. And, surprise, surprise: I got one. Not a bad job, I must admit, but EMD was not what it used to be. Years of plundering and weird economics took their toll, as the company went from its 120-employee hey-days to 45 and not sure if it could keep it that way.
And now, they didn't want me to do everything any more. No, they wanted me to focus on the stuff they couldn't do themselves and work out a strategy to be undermined at will by them. I remember I started very motivated and wrote plenty of roadmaps, business plans, training paths, career paths. And had never feedback from management. Never ever.

Soon realised that whatever I did was not important. The company was in trouble and I had to be at customers. Generate money is the key. Who cares if it's not that challenging? No one else can do it, so we send Nuno. And Nuno went and did. And sometimes Nuno failed, because Nuno had no backup. Because if Nuno couldn't do it, no one else could. Because the entrepreneurship that created that company was drained out from the people - and the good ones left. The ones that stayed behind did it for the money, not to fulfill their egos.

After two years of this, I left to create my own company. That was an utter disaster, because of very personal reasons, and I am now working on getting myself out of it, closing down the company and moving forward. I'm changing countries in the process, so this will certainly be a good moment to do some soul-searching and finding back the drive to fulfill my ego.

I'm sad now, I shouldn't have written it...

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