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My ideal company / job

November 14, 2012

During a mentoring conversation the other day, I was asked to describe my ideal job and/or organization. I find questions like that – along with ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?” – to be a double-edged sword. While a clear answer makes it easier for others to help, it also cuts off unexpected opportunities that might have been much more interesting. Either way, I gave the topic some thought and came up with the description below. Feel free to share if this would be helpful to anyone you know.


First, let me say that what follows should be taken as guidelines instead of rules. For the ‘right’ opportunity – defined as ‘I know it when I see it’ – I could go in virtually any direction. But there are some characteristics that define my ideal company right now.

  • Aligned
    An organization that uses a shared vision, values and culture to guide and reinforce decision-making across teams. When people understand where they are going and what kind of behavior is expected, they can be trusted to make good decisions without micro-management. On the other hand, constantly changing strategies; poorly conceived objectives; and a short-term focus create conflict and lead to selfish decisions.
  • Focused
    An organization with a concrete view of the market, its role in it today and it’s aspiration for tomorrow. A willingness to say no to good ideas so that it can focus resources on executing the vision. It’s better to do a few things well versus many so-so.
  • Innovative
    This isn’t necessarily just a technology or product statement. It could be business model or process. For example, I joined IBM as part of their unique EBO program – the way that IBM pursued new opportunities that were too small to for the mainstream businesses to notice. BTW: The concept of entrepreneurship in an established organization still fascinates me.
  • Produces technology (or products) that people use. I moved to the Sametime team because I wanted to work on products that people could see, touch and use… as opposed to middleware connecting systems. I’m a gadget guy. I love toys. Some days, I think I would love to be a reviewer for engagdet or gizmodo.
  • Has a bit of a wow factor. Enough of a wow that I’m willing to tackle the mundane tasks because what we’re doing in the end is energizing.
  • Geographically open-minded. My house is for sale and we intend to relocate to the Philadelphia area to be near family. I’m willing to travel if it means my wife and kids can be near the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. On the flip side, I have not found working from home to be a challenge with all the communication tools at my disposal.

As far as the actual role…

    • Most likely: Product / Solution Management, Strategy, New Product Development or Evangelism. This is what I’ve done for the last 10 years. I tend to be comfortable with what I call the ‘gray spaces’… areas where decisions need to be made with imperfect information and iterated on quickly. That was also one of the things that attracted me to Sametime. The collision of communications and collaboration opened up all sorts of new possibilities, market dynamics and new lines of competition.
    • Secondarily, I would be open to exploring roles in Business Development and Acquisitions. I do a lot of the former and have been involved in several of the latter.
    • Something with an external component. I like dealing with customers & partners. I find it very energizing / motivating.
    • A suitably senior/executive level position.

From → IBM, Life

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