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Hanging Up the Pointy-Hair

January 13, 2009

Today marks my twelve year anniversary at Sun. That’s an eternity for any job, but seems at least four times that in the tech industry. Why so long? The primary reason is the people. I’ve worked with enough bosses and peers to recognize a good thing when I have it, so the years keep rolling by. Secondary is I believe in our products, more than ever. Sure I would certainly change lots of things at Sun when given the opportunity (everyone drives better from the back seat :)), but I find myself recommending our stuff to anyone who would listen- with what little reputation I have at stake- because I genuinely think they’re the best. So I’m still here, and happy.

Today was also a tough one. I communicated to the team the details on my toughest role change since entering the work force: I’ve chosen to hang up the boss hat and don the worker bee hat once more, after a three year run. I’ve changed positions and orgs numerous times, but this is the first time it affects other folks so directly- so I’ve been mulling it over for a long time.

I hesitantly accepted the position because it was such a drastic departure from what attracted me to the field since grade school: creating stuff by writing code. Over the years, I’ve hired locally and internationally, absorbed existing teams, suffered attrition and dealt with RIFs, and more than anything learned the importance of team cohesion and what it means to be a good manager (and good report). I’d like to think it’s been a net positive run for the team and the company- I know it has for myself. The team has been massively productive and the current group is super low maintenance. And they’re all my friends, so it’s even harder to walk away, partly because I feel it my responsibility to see them done right, partly because I may be spending less time with some of them.

So why change back to individual contributor? I’ve come up with lots of reasons both for it and against it. And I’m just as hesitantly switching roles again, this time to something that’s currently undefined (dealing with the transition was the top priority, figuring out what’s next is just starting to enter my mind.) But at the moment, it feels like our org has plenty of strong leadership but not enough folks in the trenches getting stuff done. So I’m picking up a shovel and getting back to work partly because it feels like the best thing for the extended team, partly because I know it’ll be refreshing to get into it again.

I haven’t ruled out switching back again at some point in the future. In fact my boss thinks it’s just a matter of time before I ask for just that (and he tends to be right about this sort of thing.) Time will tell. 🙂

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From → Misc

14 Comments
  1. I wish you the very best in your role change, Rama, and hope that I will continue to have the privilege to work with you on various projects. Engineering Managers who know how to work so effectively with program/project managers can often be a rare find, so I consider myself lucky for having the opportunity to work so closely with you. 😀

  2. Welcome back. You can help me out with the xVM cloud now! 🙂

  3. While I’m bummed to be losing such a great boss I wanted to thank you for not only the incredibly positive work environment you fostered, but for the personal investments you made in me and the rest of the A-team.
    PS
    I left you a lil sumtin-sumtin in my link. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. 😀

  4. All the best Rama. Your hair was never really all that pointy anyway. I hope you’ll be blogging about your new projects. Cheers! – Dave

  5. ditucci permalink

    Congrats on the anniversary and role change. I hope this means I’ll get to work with you in a trench on some fast moving projects soon. I have my shovel ready.

  6. I’m happy for you (and sad for myself). You’ll be missed! You can leave confidently knowing that all my future PHBs will have big shoes to fill in.
    Now get that shovel and come help me, would ya! 🙂

  7. Not that you need it, but best of luck to you!

  8. Will Thornburg permalink

    You’re the best manager I never worked for! 😉 Congratulations on a stellar 3-years and good luck on the next chapter of Ramaness!

  9. Rama,
    It’s a tough decision to make. The fact that you considered it so thoroughly is surely one of the things that made you a wonderful manager. Either way, Sun is lucky to have you. 🙂
    Good luck going back to the trenches. 🙂

  10. For a second I thought you were going to work changing diapers. Good luck!

  11. Great article. It`s realy worth reading. I wish you further successes

  12. I wish you the very best in your role change

  13. thank you for the great help
    the wedding rings are very nice

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