Friday, May 11th will be my last day at my old employer. I started there in November 1998 as PC Specialist, moved on to IT Manager, and ended my run as Business Systems Programmer. When I started with the company they had a single AS/400 running everything. They used the NetServer service to provide Windows file sharing and all network printers were likewise connected to the AS/400. In 1997 they had upgraded their 10 PC's (two were smoking hot Pentium 60's!) from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 and deployed a batch of 40 new PC's. By 1998 they realized they needed someone who could move them to the next level.
From these humble beginnings I plotted a course that eventually led to 12 locations networked together; over 120 PC's spread across them; 50 laptops deployed to outside sales reps; centralized anti-virus, spam filtering and content filtering; Windows-based file and fax servers; a VoIP phone system; and Notes, Domino and Sametime as a collaboration platform, first on an AS/400 and now on Linux. Windows Terminal Services was deployed to replace aging PC's and facilitate user mobility. A wireless network and handheld barcode scanners were deployed in all warehouses to better track product movement. By 2004 the IT staff had grown from me and a former AS/400 system operator who knew a little about PC's, to myself and two network admins with plans to add a third admin.
I'm proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish. Unfortunately my boss wasn't as impressed. In October 2004, with no discussion or explanation and while I was actively interviewing for my third direct report, I had all my direct reports reassigned to another manager, my decision-making authority was also moved to this other person, and I was told my new role would be simply to do development. It was spun as a good thing; this was a role I could "grow with" and "move the company forward". I didn't buy it.
I stuck it out for two years, and in September 2006 I brought it to my manager's attention that I wasn't very happy with how things were going. I had been moved from an office near executives who were often gone or in closed-door meetings to a noisy cube beside the call center. Projects were being scheduled so tightly it felt like I was in a pressure cooker. I was doing purely Notes client development and web development was being outsourced. I was told I was more valuable cranking out Notes client applications and didn't have the time to slow down and learn anything new.
My boss admitted he was seriously concerned since he knew if I left a tremendous amount of business knowledge would be walking out the door. He committed to hiring another person to take some of the workload off me and keep him from being in a desperate position if I did decide to leave. He also committed to addressing the working environment issue, and freeing up some time for me to get involved in building a more modern skillset.
I reminded my boss again in December of his promises, he agreed to get on it. I reminded him again in March. A couple of weeks ago we had virtually the same conversation from last September, only this time I had a resignation letter in my hand. He was genuinely surprised. We did come to an agreement that has me finishing up some projects and providing transitional training to current IT staff and whomever the hire to fill my position. I didn't say "replace me" because they could never do that. ;-)
Soon I will be settling into my new job and will provide more specifics shortly. The big change is my new employer is purely a Microsoft shop, and I'll be doing mostly VB, Access and SQL Server work. The last time I used Outlook was in 1998, so this should be interesting. I'll be sure to keep a list of the "but in Notes I could..." moments, and share them.