take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The recruitment consultant was right. It's not often one has the opportunity to say (write) this, but he was.

"Most people who accept a counter offer will still leave after about 6 months"

He told me all the reasons why I shouldn't accept the counter offer - even sending me an article about it (written by a recruitment consultant, of course, on a recruitment consultant's website). He stood to make a tidy sum if I took the job at [large American corporation], so he wasn't exactly objective.

But, much to his chagrin, I accepted the counter offer. And from that day, my role gradually moved further and further away from what I'm good at and enjoy (being a specialist) to what I'm good at but don't enjoy (being a generalist). The eternal dilemma of a technical specialist: the career path. There comes a point in your career as a software engineer where you either embrace the idea of "management", leaving the detail behind in order to progress, or you cling to your speciality, because that's the only way you can make sense of your role. To me, reward is only possible when I'm designing and delivering systems myself, not when I'm organising a team to design and deliver systems.

At every meeting with my manager, we would have the same conversation:

"I don't enjoy my job at the moment"
"But you're so good at it!"
"But I don't enjoy it"
"But you're so good at it!"

and so on, until we finish the coffee. It's not as if I hadn't warned him repeatedly, albeit in a roundabout way.

The problem was, I was trapped by the platform, and I guess he knew that. If I wanted to continue to work with the technology I am a specialist in, and not travel far from home, my options were limited. There was:

In that context, staying was the only sensible option, unless I could find another speciality.

The problem with a speciality is that you have to have been doing it for a while for it to become a speciality. Starting a new career would mean dropping down to a salary that would not keep me in the manner to which I have become accustomed (to coin a phrase). But looking over at my friends who still worked at the company where I was originally trained (and where I was when I started blogging in 2003), I spotted a possibility.

When that company made the decision to take their IT department offshore (yes, India), this removed the need for in-house analyst/programmers, but created a need for a "middle man" between the business and the IT developers. A Business Analyst. Someone who needs many of the same aptitudes as a programmer, but is not tied to a particular platform or technology. A specialist in gathering, structuring and documenting business requirements to deliver change to the business. In an off-shored environment, Business Analysts are both vital and numerous.

After a whirlwind recruitment process (it helps to have contacts), I will start my new job next week at the company where it all began.

And whilst I'm fully aware that it's not "the answer" (which would be not having to work at all, if I'm honest), it's certainly an answer, in that it will allow me to:

Not for the first time, my life has taken a circular route. But that's fine by me.