My manager recently asked me to develop a five-year career plan. He suspects that my career challenges are going to hit me hard, heavy, and soon. If I’m not prepared I’ll end up doing something I’m not any good at, or passionate about – and I’ll be a victim of the Peter Principle. I don’t even know what I want for Christmas, let alone how I want to make a living in five years.
But being a computer scientician, I’m taking a structured approach to this problem. Break it down to a series of questions I can actually answer: what am I doing now that I’m good at/enjoy, what do I want to develop, and who does something I’d like to be doing (someone who is about 5+ years my senior).
- People on my Team. I love my development/design/QA team(s). If I can get marketing, PSO, and others in the sphere of influence, even better. Mentor a co-op? Sign me up. While I’m not a great coder/hacker, I know how to get my team to build stuff to believe in.
- Projects. I like micro-project-management aspects: planning, building roadmaps, getting requirements, market analysis, identifying opportunities, etc.
- Direct Contact. Speaking directly to the people who are having the problems (users, clients, buyers etc.) is great. I do well in those situations, problem solve, come back passionate. I like chatting with support, product managers, and other people on the front lines. Scaring a competitor or two is nice sometimes
- Punching Through. If it’s the manager, director, or CEO who needs convincing – I’m not discouraged, and often have success getting them on board. I do it with information, passion, and demonstrable progress - not with proposals and “thought leadership”, as alas I’m not senior enough.
Things that I do now that I’m not particularly good at:
- UI design. I thought I was good … until I actually met some talented user experience designer superstars.
- Managing People. I’m in awe of good managers who have the open personality, tact, and patience required to lead a large program, stay positive, nudge.
Get Good At
These are things that I’d love to get good at:
- Read More, Write. Consuming, analysing, and putting out relevant information is something that gets me excited. I wish I was better at it, and had more opportunities in social media.
- Creative Expression. I’m losing the creative aspects of my personal life – I draw less, go to less shows, take less risks creatively. I’d love to break that habit via the work I do.
- Product Management. Who knew that working with marketing rocks my socks? That Practical Product Managementcourse I took this summer was totally worth the money and time invested. More please.
I’ve either met or heard a couple of people in recent years whose work I’ve been inspired by:
- Steven Woods – Engineering/Site Director at Google Waterloo. Entrepreneur, builder of teams, active voice for his community. Important part of mobile work at Google.
- Graham Whiting – Architect (like, real, non-software). Architected Princess Twin, DNA Clothing, King St. Trio. Keeps it real, witty, and effective.
- Ken Chapman – Senior Director at D2L. Full disclosure: Ken is my bosses boss, but also someone I knew in undergrad. Pretty rockstar path by a fellow U of G (non-uWaterloo) grad.
Wow, so that list is almost exclusively “Director of Doing Stuff” roles. Guess I have my answer. Hopefully my competencies and interests make sense en route.
Let me know what you think!