Always Evolving: From Technology to Teams

Always Evolving: From Technology to Teams

I made a change. A career change. The kind of big career change every technical professional considers at some point in their career.

Management.

A little background. I’ve spent my entire career focused on learning, implementing, refining, and developing my network engineering and consulting chops. Since I left college, I’ve been on a one-way road focused on designing and delivering network architectures for companies that paid me ever better to do so.

I improved over time. I started at the bottom of the org chart in a very large company. I worked my way up to the engineering bench where I stayed for several years. I then made the jump into consulting  via the partner channel and quickly learned just how much I didn’t know. It was incredibly stressful. I evolved and grew. I expanded the number of letters I could put in my email signature. I also spent way too many sleepless nights in data centers.

After years grinding it out in the consulting game, I received an interesting offer from a client to take a principle network role at a growing financial institution. No more hustling for billable hours, less travel, and the opportunity to help lead the company through a technical transformation. It was an incredible opportunity to play a leadership role in rebuilding and retooling their organization’s entire infosec and infrastructure.

Fast forward a few more years. I got a call from Cisco to join their Cloud Networking Group. I jumped at the opportunity and made it through the infamously tough interview process. Working for the world’s largest networking company in the fastest growing business segment brought with it a step-function increase in professional growth. Delivering novel cloud solutions took real work and I thrived in the chaos.

Taking the red pill; people leadership

Then I got another call. This time about an opportunity to lead a team of my esteemed colleagues. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was the next click in my career. Doing so marked a significant shift in my responsibilities and work.

I now lead a team of engineers and architects that are designing cloud networks at unimaginable scale with Cisco’s largest and most strategic Enterprise customers. I’m still getting my balance, but my role is much less tactical and more focused on supporting my team and Meraki’s impact within the Enterprise market.

Being a beginner again is refreshing.

Evolution is healthy. Complacency is death.

We’re not all the same. Some of us thrive on change throughout their career. Others avoid ladders and prefer the quiet solitude of mastering their craft over decades. The good news is we need both. I’m now in the position of helping others make similar decisions.

Most technical professionals don’t have any interest in managing a team. I can absolutely appreciate that. For me, I had reached me technical career apex and any further growth would only bring incremental, diminishing returns. But I’ve learned that growth is essential – regardless of my pursuit. We’re made to evolve and learn and improve. Failure to do so leads to bad outcomes, personally and professionally.

Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and it’s greatest reward.
– Principles, Ray Dalio

I’m still solving problems, but the application has changed. Instead of working through highly-technical integration challenges, I’m now leading discussions around segment strategy or how we help our partners build programatic cloud solutions.

So what about the blog?

Just because I spend less time in front of a whiteboard doesn’t mean the focus here will stray too far.

I want this to remain a creative outlet and a source of joy for me. I only plan on writing about topics I feel I have a unique view of or would offering outsized benefit to the community. Working closely to some very fun projects still provides  learnings and lesser-known approaches to solving interesting problems with the Meraki platform. I’m also involved in some very big projects – the artifacts of which might make an appearance.

And as you probably noticed, the new gig inspired a fresh coat of paint here. Like my work, always evolving and hopefully improving.