New Role, Same Goal

January 29, 2018 in Personal5 minutes

I recently gave a presentation at Network Field Day 17 wherein I announced that not only was I about to give probably the most compressed talk of my life (time constraints are unforgiving) but that I also was now working for Juniper. Until today, this was pretty much the most explanation I had time to give:

I decided to accept a position with Juniper over the 2017 holiday, and I started last week. There were a few reasons for moving on from the StackStorm team, some of which are personal and have nothing to do with either day job. Despite the move, all of these things are still true:

  • StackStorm is and continues to be an awesome project. Regular updates are happening all the time, each full of tons of new features and fixes.
  • The StackStorm team and Extreme Networks as a whole are some of my favorite people ever. I will never forget everything I learned from them, and will try my best to stay in contact with all of them.
  • The concepts behind StackStorm, such as infrastructure-as-code, and autonomous response to events, are still top-of-mind for me. I still strongly believe that each of these concepts are very valuable to any IT professional

In short, I was presented with a great opportunity at Juniper, and unlike most job changes, that’s really all this is about. I look forward to continuing to stay involved with the StackStorm project in whatever capacity I can.

Same (or at least similar) Goals

I’ve been focused on software development for three years straight now. This was the right move for me when I started this journey. My technical focus at the time just wasn’t doing it for me - I was working only on technology that someone else built, and I felt like little more than a power user. Jumping full-time into software helped me not only move past this, but also helped me gain experience and insight into the life of a developer.

While I’m certainly not reverting to my prior focus, my exclusive focus on writing features and fixing bugs just isn’t sufficient on its own. Ever since I started in my career, I’ve enjoyed not only working on technical topics, but also talking and writing about them. I get a lot of enjoyment and energy from of helping folks understand a new topic.

Unfortunately, the more I focus exclusively on writing code, the less I feel I have energy to dedicate to sharing about them. You have probably noticed that my blog output for the past three years has been way down. These two career shifts for me have taught me that not only do I need to work on modern technical topics, I also need to be able to share them in order for me to really enjoy what I’m working on.

To help enforce this dual focus, my new role is actually within the marketing organization at Juniper. This is a new challenge for me, and while I’m certainly looking forward to getting more involved on the business and marketing side of things, it’s not in anyone’s interest for my technical capabilities to wane. So this will not be “marketing as usual” from my perspective. I will continue to write technical blog posts, contributing to open source, and researching new topics. The only difference is that I’ll be talking about it a lot more.

I believe my time in engineering actually prepared me well for the new role. I’ll admit to falling prey to the assumption that marketing is all about going ‘rah rah’ about a product or company regardless of how it actually works. Unfortunately, I’m sure you’ll find pockets where this is true, but in general, it’s way more nuanced than this.

My time in engineering has taught me a few things, one of which is that everything has tradeoffs. There is no “perfect solution”, there is “cause and effect”. You want to optimize for a certain problem space - so you pick solutions that trade things off that you don’t care about for things you do care about. One out of several responsibilities I’ll have in my new role is to adequately describe the problem space in which a certain product excels - and in my opinion just as importantly - where it doesn’t. Spending time in engineering, keeping the concept of tradeoffs at the top of my mind, has actually prepared me well for taking on this new challenge.

So while the application of my goals is changing, my goal is still to learn about new technical topics and share it with the community. Even if they’re mixed with silly puns:

I’m excited for what’s in store in the next few years, and hopefully this will help me to be more involved again with the community that has been so helpful in my career journey. There will always be room for more content about tools and tech, but increasingly, the changing role of the network engineer is one of the most important topics to dive into. So while my personal career goals might be changing, my goal of helping engineers evolve their skillsets has not.