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Remembering Your Sweet Spots
Mar 11, 2021

I left Google Cloud back in July 2020 and joined VMware as a Product Manager, working on vSphere and Kubernetes. There were lots of interesting features to build and workloads that could be modernized. But it never fit.

A few weeks ago I put in my notice and decided to leave VMware for another opportunity. I was only there for 7 months, but being a Product Manager always felt incongruent. During the December break I finally realized what was missing: this new job had moved me too far away from my sweet spots.

Over the last 10 years I’ve had different roles but they’ve always been primarily hands-on technical and external facing. The Product Manager job had those attributes, but they were (at best) secondary to the main functions. I didn’t realize how much personal joy I got from writing sample code or architecting a solution until those things weren’t a part of my job anymore. Being able to work directly with users, helping to bridge their understanding from what they to know to something new, that’s what I truly enjoy doing.

A friend once described solutions/advocacy work as always striving to say “yes” - as in, “yes we can build that” or “yes that architecture is possible”. And that same person described product management as the opposite: you have to say “no” regularly. Whether you’re reducing scope, making tradeoffs on what can and can’t be shipped, or having to continually explain release delays, you’re always starting from “no”. On some level, that never sat well with me; my first instinct was always to help a customer come up with a solution instead of waiting for a feature to ship. But that’s antithetical to building a product.

I have a lot of respect for Product Managers and the role itself, and I may even pursue the right product role in the future, but for now I needed to focus on my sweet spots. So I left and decided to go back to Google Cloud. In fairness, I left for a reason - I wasn’t happy at the time. But I think that’s largely because I’m at my best as an individual contributor, and being a manager isn’t one of my sweet spots.

So after a short a stint as a PM I’m going back to advocacy. This time I’ll be working with enterprise teams on how to rearchitect for cloud infrastructure, and how to adopt modern DevOps processes and practices. And I couldn’t be more excited.

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