Tuesday, May 08, 2007

moving on

Friday, May 11th will be my last day at my old employer. I started there in November 1998 as PC Specialist, moved on to IT Manager, and ended my run as Business Systems Programmer. When I started with the company they had a single AS/400 running everything. They used the NetServer service to provide Windows file sharing and all network printers were likewise connected to the AS/400. In 1997 they had upgraded their 10 PC's (two were smoking hot Pentium 60's!) from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 and deployed a batch of 40 new PC's. By 1998 they realized they needed someone who could move them to the next level.

From these humble beginnings I plotted a course that eventually led to 12 locations networked together; over 120 PC's spread across them; 50 laptops deployed to outside sales reps; centralized anti-virus, spam filtering and content filtering; Windows-based file and fax servers; a VoIP phone system; and Notes, Domino and Sametime as a collaboration platform, first on an AS/400 and now on Linux. Windows Terminal Services was deployed to replace aging PC's and facilitate user mobility. A wireless network and handheld barcode scanners were deployed in all warehouses to better track product movement. By 2004 the IT staff had grown from me and a former AS/400 system operator who knew a little about PC's, to myself and two network admins with plans to add a third admin.

I'm proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish. Unfortunately my boss wasn't as impressed. In October 2004, with no discussion or explanation and while I was actively interviewing for my third direct report, I had all my direct reports reassigned to another manager, my decision-making authority was also moved to this other person, and I was told my new role would be simply to do development. It was spun as a good thing; this was a role I could "grow with" and "move the company forward". I didn't buy it.

I stuck it out for two years, and in September 2006 I brought it to my manager's attention that I wasn't very happy with how things were going. I had been moved from an office near executives who were often gone or in closed-door meetings to a noisy cube beside the call center. Projects were being scheduled so tightly it felt like I was in a pressure cooker. I was doing purely Notes client development and web development was being outsourced. I was told I was more valuable cranking out Notes client applications and didn't have the time to slow down and learn anything new.

My boss admitted he was seriously concerned since he knew if I left a tremendous amount of business knowledge would be walking out the door. He committed to hiring another person to take some of the workload off me and keep him from being in a desperate position if I did decide to leave. He also committed to addressing the working environment issue, and freeing up some time for me to get involved in building a more modern skillset.

I reminded my boss again in December of his promises, he agreed to get on it. I reminded him again in March. A couple of weeks ago we had virtually the same conversation from last September, only this time I had a resignation letter in my hand. He was genuinely surprised. We did come to an agreement that has me finishing up some projects and providing transitional training to current IT staff and whomever the hire to fill my position. I didn't say "replace me" because they could never do that. ;-)

Soon I will be settling into my new job and will provide more specifics shortly. The big change is my new employer is purely a Microsoft shop, and I'll be doing mostly VB, Access and SQL Server work. The last time I used Outlook was in 1998, so this should be interesting. I'll be sure to keep a list of the "but in Notes I could..." moments, and share them.


  1. I empathize with the difficult situation you were in. I've been there in the past. Unfortunately, it seems like if an employer/manager doesn't "get it" on their own, or at least the 1st time you point it out, it just isn't going to happen. And you end up having to make a decision like you made - and I've known a few people who would fuss too much and the employer made the decision for them.

    From the variety of things you were able to do in the past, I am sure that you will do well in your new position. Best of luck, and please do keep us informed of your insights RE Notes vs MS .

  2. Hey Charles...congratulations! Sounds like you endured a bad situation for long enough. Best of luck on the new gig. Looking forward to hearing your insights on the MS world. Cheers!

  3. Congrats Charles!

    It sounds like you made the best of a bad situation and left in a very professional manner, that will always speak volumes about your character and integrity; much like your recent comment on my blog about doing the right thing...you obviously practice what you preach.

    I wish you the best of luck and am sorry that you will not be continuing in the world of all things Lotus, you definately have a lot to offer in whatever technology you venture.


  4. Best wishes Charles!! I'm sure you'll do great in your new venture!

  5. Best of luck on the new gig, Charles. Glad to hear you got out of a situation that was making you unhappy!

  6. Congratulations on a new post, and I hope that your new management delivers with greater consistency and honesty then your old.

    So, should we take bets that they drop Notes within a year because they think that they can migrate all your apps to Sharepoint, and it's what the management wants?

  7. Congratulations, Charles! Sorry to hear that your current employer never followed through, but I'm glad you've found a new opportunity.

  8. Thanks everyone for the encouragement, I really appreciate it. :)

    Phil, the company I'm leaving is committed to Notes and I will continue doing new development for them for at least another year. That's how backlogged I was on projects.

  9. Congratulations on the new job Charles.

    Your moving on will be a loss to the Lotus community - you've brought a refreshing new outlook on the products and futures to the community, and have never been afraid to voice your opinions where necessary.

    Hope you enjoy life in an M$ shop - I only managed 9 months outside the yellow-bleeding world, so I hope you do better! Good luck...

  10. I'm curious as to the arrangment that lets you continue work with your old campany after you move to the new one. Are you contracting?

  11. @Stuart - I sincerely appreciate the kind words. I come from a MS development background and I'm really looking forward to getting back into it. I'll still be doing Notes development and, ironically, may finally get a chance to do Domino web apps now that I'm consulting rather than on staff.

    @Kerr - Yes, I've joined the ranks of independent consultants for now. I poured 8.5 years of my life into that company and I truly do wish them well.

  12. Charles,

    Good luck with the new job and career path. I hope you'll still be keeping a finger in the Lotus community and bring some contrasting perspective on what you learn in the MS world.

  13. Congratulations on seizing the opportunity to improve your career, and ultimately, sanity. Sorry to hear you're moving to the dark side though. j/k Good luck in the new position.

  14. Good Luck! I hope you're happier in the new role (after you get over the transition...) These decisions are hard to make, but you'll enjoy getting the opportunity to learn new things. There'll be lots of things to miss from Notes, but I'm sure it'll be nice to work with a modern IDE 8-)

  15. Charles: Congrats! I am a search consultant with Korn Ferry, and we've been trying to dig up a good guy like you for ages.

    Keep on, keeping on

  16. Rats! And just after I discovered your blog! (it is all about me, isn't it?) Wishing you all the best!

  17. Charles, congratulations. The hints have been killing us out here, you know?

    I've posted some thoughts on your transition, and how it relates to leadership and community, on my site. Good luck!

  18. Charles, congratulations on your move. I wish you all the best!

  19. I wish you the best as you continue on! Making a move decision such as this is always significant and I know you will continue to be successful!

    Also, congratulations on joining the ranks of the consultants. You'll learn how this side of the industry operates, which has some definite differences from being an internal employee. Please feel free to contact us if you find yourself with any business-oriented questions, such as "how do others handle this situation?"

    We look forward to continuing to read how things go for you. Best wishes!!!

  20. Charles,

    "the company I'm leaving is committed to Notes and I will continue doing new development for them for at least another year. That's how backlogged I was on projects."

    I'll defer to you on that one. However, purposefully ignoring a key resource as they have seems to indicate otherwise to me, which is why I said what I said.

    It's nice to know I was wrong, though. :-)

  21. Best of luck on the new job, hopefully the grass is greener and not just cut differently.
    Congratulations on bridging the 2 religions :-)

  22. Charles, sounds like a rough trot, and you dutifully tried to work with it but, based on your description of it all, the intentions laid out to you in the beginning, 2 years ago (?) , seemed to be bogus from the start.

    I hope you have found greener fields. Albeit it sounds like it is overdue for you.

    I know how you feel, I am in a similar situation, all I can say is, don't take that kind of sh_t from people who act deceitfully.

    Employers who conduct themselves this way don't deserve any courtesy in these matters when they deliberately waste your time after making promises they never had any intention of keeping.

  23. Charles - I can completely sympathize - my situation was exactly the same until a few weeks ago when I too moved on. My old manager kept telling me that things were on the horizon whilst telling others I would be there to crank out the client stuff whilst the web stuff was outsourced. If you are nto careful, you can become out-of-date fairly quickly

    All the very next in your new role

    Let us know when it looks like you are about to drink the Microsoft Kool-Aid! :-)


  24. Charles, you've done the right thing. Only you can be responsible for your own career. You gave your (ex) employer plenty of opportunities and communicated your desires. You can't force their hand (blackmail is not a good thing ;-)), so you make it happen for yourself.

    Best of luck to you in your future endeavors, and you can bet your friends will be keeping tabs / in touch. I enjoyed meeting you at Lotusphere this year and it has been great keeping "in touch" by reading your blog, and I don't see that changing.

    All my best,

  25. @Anonymous - Just to be clear, I do believe they had the intention of eventually getting around to doing what they promised. It just wasn't happening on a schedule that worked for me.

    @Mike - If you know anything about m at all you should realize that I don't drink Kool-Aid of any flavor. :-)

  26. Congratulations Charles!
    I've been there myself and moved on also. Best whishes for your future projects.

  27. Good Luck to you! We'll miss you at Lotusphere.

  28. Sorry I'm so late on this, but congratulations. Sounds like pastures new are just what you need: exciting times!

    I'd be interested to hear about life as an independent too... don't feel you just have to do the tech thing ;o)