This week before the Christmas break is my last week at Red Hat, the company I’ve been with for the last 6.5 years. Actually, I joined a small start up close to 7 years ago that was quickly acquired by Red Hat (see FuseSource acquisition), but I tend to count all of that time together.
I did write a blog at the time of joining FuseSource titled “Serious about your software career? Leave your Job”. I just re-read that blog entry and actually stand by a lot of it! A lot of it still rings true: change is hard, building a set of skills geared toward learning is singularly important to me, and if you still have the energy to push into the unknown good things have a chance of happening.
One of the main points of that blog, however, was that to excel and stay open to solving new problems was the need to leave your job. “But you stayed at your job for almost 7 years!?!” you say?
It’s true. I think I was incredibly fortunate enough to get both the chance to be exposed to industry changing technologies (ie, Docker, Kubernetes, Istio, etc) as well as work with they many bright Red Hat customers adopting those technologies. I was blessed to have the best of both worlds without having to change jobs. I recognize that this is not something that comes along often, so not surprisingly I satisfied my desires to learn, help others, and work with amazing technology by staying at Red Hat. Coming from an industry where software and technology wasn’t the business of the companies for which I worked (retail, education, banking, etc) it was clear to met (at the time) that I had to move on periodically. After working at a company that so deeply values technology, innovation, and open-source, I can say I could not have been luckier to work at a place like that.
Red Hat has had a positive impact on my career thus far, but a part of the equation that cannot be understated is finding (or being lucky enough to find) a good boss and a good team. You get your paycheck from a company, but you work day-to-day and week-to-week with your immediate team and the people leading it. At Red Hat I was fortunate to work on a team responsible for going very deep in technology discussions covering integration, containers, Kubernetes/OpenShift, microservices, et. al. in a pre-sales setting. Our small team covered all of North America and it was incredible what we were able to accomplish. Our team felt like an open-source team constantly striving for excellence and it was incredible to be part of it. In many ways, our immediate boss Scott Cranton helped create the environment for a team like this to thrive and succeed. Leadership is about creating context for your team and getting out of the way and letting them run. Scott did this but also was a champion of the our team within the organization and stood by us and “had our backs” every step of the way. Lastly, one thing that will always stand out for me is how he jumped in to a very complicated and technical deal that was going sideways, rolled up his sleeves, and jumped into the source code and configurations and helped debug and sort out the problems. We ended up getting the technical win on that deal because of that. This sort of behavior (both being highly technical and confident enough to trust his team and let us do our thing) resonates with a team and drives them to achieve excellence. I cannot be more thankful to have worked with him and with our team!!
As for my next steps, and harkening back to the previous blog post I wrote I’m still very much hungry. I crave learning, pushing myself to get better, and helping those around me to do the same. I had three big goals when I left my job last time: 1) get involved and become a contributor to open-source projects 2) speak at a major conference 3) write a book. I have achieved all three of those. One of my career goals has always been to be part of a start up. In a time when technology is both driving disruption and itself is getting disrupted, I would not be able to look back on my career, look myself in the mirror, and say “it was a good thing I didn’t join a startup”. I want to jump into the fray of the unknown. Technology industry doesn’t have these inflection points very often, and at this point in both my career and in technology there’s no better time.
I’m excited to join a startup and at the same time anxious about what will happen. It’s unknown for a reason. I look forward to continuing my work in the open-source communities, working on my book Istio in Action, and helping as many people as I can (both from a customer-vendor perspective but equally as a mentor to those looking to get involved in opensource – reach out to @christianposta). At the end of the day, as enthusiastic as I am about learning, technology, and excellence, I realise the reason I do this is to support my family and enjoy what we have together. Time is short, focus on what matters, put everything into what you do personally and professionally, and don’t worry about what you’ll say when you look in the mirror when it’s all over.
I wish all the best to my fellow Red Hat colleagues, my team, and those leading the company. Red Hat is an amazing place to work and I’m blessed I had the opportunity.
I look forward to my next blog entry early January announcing my new role and new company! Stay tuned http://blog.christianposta.com