Transitioning from Engineering to Management – Part 3 “Now and Beyond”

I am no longer a manager. I moved back to being an individual contributor for Amazon Web Services. A Senior Technical Account Manager in the Enterprise Support organisation working with customers across Scotland, the UK and the World. It’s been over three years since I posted the first blog post in this series and at the time I had anticipated the third post being more focused on developing as a leader and the challenges of staying in front of technical developments whilst also being a good manager. Instead I took an opportunity to work for AWS a leader in cloud computing and an organisation I’ve hoped to work at for a long time.

So this post is going to be about my decision making process to move from management at a small/medium sized business punching above its weight to individual contributor at one of the biggest tech companies in the world. The decision was not terribly difficult in the end.

It is fair to say that my time at brightsolid was formative. I joined the organisation as an IT Engineer working on internal IT services and providing support to staff at the company. At the time this was around 300 people across several sites. By the time I decided to move on from brightsolid I had been a Systems Engineer, Service Desk Manager, and latterly working as Head of Technology developing the Hybrid Cloud vision of the product team as well as a number of other transformative initiatives for a company that had divested and was now around 50 employees but focused on a specific set of service offerings as an MSP in Scotland. I learned a lot over the years, about technology, about leadership, about the nature of commercial relationships and about business in general. Not all of it was comfortable or easy to learn, and some of it was associated with behaviours and attributes of leaders that were not fit to be in the positions they were in. Learning how not to do things, I guess, is sometimes as important as learning how to do them well.

Given the above it would have been easy for me to stay where I was familiar and comfortable and feel like I’m delivering something more impactful to a smaller business than AWS. But as you’ll perhaps remember from the first post in this series, I always try to push myself out of my comfort zone and move my career forward. By the end, I felt I had outgrown brightsolid. And so despite the fact I felt deeply passionate about brightsolid and the work I was doing there, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from the amazing smart folks that work for AWS.

Jumping in to a role at AWS is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, the phrase “sipping from the firehose” came up a lot in my initial onboarding and it’s not wrong. You have to learn a lot and quickly. But you’re not alone, you have a lot of people in the same position or have been in the same position and are happy to help. I’ve loved every day of the past 18 months at AWS and can’t wait to see where I can take this.

The conclusion to this series is short, the message of this post is simply this, be sure you know when you have outgrown your role and your place of work, find new opportunities to push yourself and grab them with both hands.