I’ve been doing this “technology” thing for a number of years now, and each career change I’ve made has fallen into one of two categories. Either: a) a fortuitous opportunity I could not have envisioned; or, b) a desperate escape from a crumbling situation. The best example of the latter came with my very first job out of college–at the trough of the “dot com bust”–when I literally turned in my two-weeks notice at the start of a meeting that had been called by my manager for the purpose of telling me that I–after two years of surviving all the others–was a casualty to a round of layoffs. (Sidebar: that company is no longer in existence.)
On the other end of the spectrum are those times where I have made a move from one opportunity to another because of overriding personal, family or career goals. Often, those changes have been spurred on by opportunities that dovetailed nicely with said goals. Once such example was when I chose to leave a job I loved with a great non-profit in order to move my family back to Texas. I still miss that place and those people, but we don’t regret for one minute making the decision to be back in Texas, and close to family (Except when it’s over 100-degrees, which is every day from May to October).
This is another one of those “fortuitous opportunity” times. And with mixed emotions, I’m announcing that today is my last day at Microsoft.
But personal concerns conflicted with the goals I had laid out for my career, and personal (namely, family), always wins. From day one, I had made it clear to my manager, his manger and anyone else who would listen that my desire was to move into a Product or Program Management role as a next step in my career at Microsoft. It became clear very quickly, though, that in nearly all cases, such a job required a migration to Redmond. My wife and I had some serious conversations about the matter, and decided that after moving away from Colorado (surely, God’s Picture Window ™) to return to Texas, we should stay put for a while. As early as last summer, we knew that a move to Redmond (or anywhere) for the next step in my career was out.
At that point, I set myself to focusing on my current role as a Web Evangelist with Microsoft, without worrying about what would come next. After another 3-4 years, I told myself, we’d think about the future. But “what was next” came much sooner than expected when I was presented with an opportunity to step into a role I’d wanted to tackle, and to do so without the condition I move myself or my family. In “Godfather” terms, it was the career offer I couldn’t refuse. After much consideration, conversation and consternation–the three “Cs” of any important decision–my wife and I decided that the change was a good one.
I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that life at Microsoft was without its share of frustrations, but I think we all know that no organization populated by people is without its share of annoyances and daily struggles. In spite of any of those those, I want to be clear–especially in the face of so much negativity swirling around Microsoft–that I am leaving on the best of terms, especially with those individuals I had the pleasure of working with and for over the last two years. Those of you who know me personally know that I’m nobody’s fanboy. And even though I will continue to be open with my opinions in the future, I have the utmost respect for the brilliant people of Microsoft and believe that they collectively deserve more credit for attempting to respond to a shifting technology landscape then they often receive.
Here’s what this all means from a community perspective: though I am changing employers and the eventual makeup of my day-to-day job, I expect to remain involved with community: in Austin, online and beyond. In the short term, I’ll be at SxSW and CodePaLOUsa next month, and I hope to see you at one (or both) of those events as well. Longer-term, you can expect that I will continue organizing the HTML5.tx conference. I had too much fun doing it last year not to. I’ll also probably find my way out for events every once and again. As always, I continue blogging here–never often enough–as I have since December of 2004, and I’ll be on Twitter–more often than I should–at http://twitter.com/brandonsatrom. I’m also working on a book, but more on that one later.
In the meantime, thanks for following-along here for the Microsoft phase of my journey. Hope you’ll stick around for the next one!
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