I am leaving CGNET after ten great years. My last day is Friday (one day after this is published). I start a new job on Monday. Crazy, I know. So, a farewell post seems in order.
What happened? Well, have you got a minute? I had hired a career coach in 2020 as the pandemic took hold, wanting to better understand the question, what do you really want to do? I came out of that experience with a much clearer picture of what motivated me, what energized me, and what did not. I felt there was enough challenge at CGNET, creating new lines of business and engaging with our customers, to make staying worthwhile. No need to say farewell just yet.
Fast forward to this year. I started thinking it might be time for a change of scenery. I knew I wanted to work with customers, to help them solve important problems. I liked the cybersecurity space and wanted to continue working in it.
I talked with a colleague about my situation, describing the kind of work that I found most satisfying. “Oh,” he said. “You’re one of those ‘wildcard’ people. I asked him to explain, and he told me these people define their roles more around problems to be solved than organizational functions.
That made sense. Some years ago, when the startup I had joined fired one of the engineers, they belatedly realized they had fired the person who oversaw creating the product documentation. Oops. Engineering did not want the job; it is not what engineers do! I volunteered. Before long, I had mastered our Content Management System and had all the documentation ready for product launch.
This Summer I went back to my career coach and shared the story with him. He agreed that it was a good description for me but warned me that standard keyword-matching systems would never match me up with the right position. I needed to talk to the hiring manager, show them they could trust me to get the work done.
All this forced me into the “rifle shot” approach to job search, and away from the “shotgun” approach. I was more selective about the positions I considered. But for the ones I did consider, I found it much easier to answer the “why are you qualified?” questions.
In short, I had to follow my own career advice. I hate it when that happens.
One day I saw a post from one of my connections, describing a job managing infrastructure security projects. It sounded like a good match with what I wanted, and I got in touch with the poster. I ran down my work history with him, and he agreed that it sounded like a good match. He promised to pass on my resume the CEO.
Within a few days I was talking with the CEO while he drove to the airport. He had some questions about my qualifications, but we seemed to connect well. I suggested a follow-up call to address his reservations. During that call, he and I put together the project plan for a request he had received that morning. After that, he had me talk to one of the architects at the company. Next thing I knew, the company was making me an offer.
Farewell to Ten Years
I can hardly believe I have been at CGNET for ten years. I remember being asked to go to a meeting with Microsoft and find out what they wanted. That meeting led me to create CGNET’s cloud services line of business, starting with Microsoft 365 and working our way through much of the Microsoft cloud “stack.” Along the way, I flew to Islamabad to lead the local implementation of Office 365. Little did I know as I landed that the CIA had taken out the local Taliban leader hours before peace talks were about to resume with the Pakistani government. Good times!
In 2017, after returning from a stressful summer-long consulting assignment in Italy, my boss asked me to put a business plan together for a cybersecurity line of business. I did that but insisted that we use Microsoft Teams to manage the buildout of the business. We did that and were in a great position to help others when the pandemic hit in 2020 and everyone was grappling with how to manage remote work. Somewhere, there is a video of me talking about Teams while my dog is barking in the background.
Hello to What is Next
Some have asked me if I will continue working with NGOs and philanthropies as I do today. My answer is that I do not know. Given that the hiring process happened quickly, and that the company in some ways created the role around me, there is much I am still waiting to find out. I know I will be leading project teams as we define and deliver projects. I know that developing recurring-revenue services is part of the plan. Beyond that, ¿quien sabe?
Thanks for Everything
My most satisfying experience at CGNET has been all the interactions I have had with our customers. I have met some great people and learned so much. I hope that will continue. I will say farewell, but expect I can still connect with the many friends I have made along the way.
Meanwhile, keep improving your security, collaborating locally and remotely, and digitally transforming your organizations. Remember, I could be watching!