Career Change Story

I would like to share a story about changes I made along my career.  I started out as a control systems engineer doing consulting work on communications satellite tracking stations.  The systems I worked on at the time had a real time computer controlling the antenna.  That was my first exposure to computers after my university training.  I then got more involved with engineering applications of computers in the control of nuclear power stations.  I was a assembly language programmer.  I develop a language to control the on-power fueling machine which really was a robot controlled by sequences programmed in this language I developed.  The next step in my career was going on-site in Trois Riviere to commission the complete fueling machine.  A great experience and very successful.  I had also had been involved in programming the CRT display systems for the control room.  Another first using CRTs instead of conventional instrumentation. 

After that I designed to displays systems for the control room for the Bruce Nuclear Power Station.  I then took more management responsibility for the real time computer control in the consulting firm.  I then decided to evaluate the direction my career was going and make some directional decisions.  I had really enjoyed all this technical work but wanted to move on to new challenges.

At this stage I decided that I really wanted to be a consultant more than a manager and decided I needed to become a consultant to management rather than a technical consultant.  I considered that the young fellows coming along would be able to run rings around me so I needed to move up the food chain. 

At that time a Strategic Planning consultant, a friend of my partner, was looking for an alliance with our firm.  We decided I should work with him to learn about his approach and work on creating a new practice for the firm.  We formed a Strategic Management Group.  We did some really good stuff together but I could not get access to any of our traditional IT clients.  I did not understand as I got lots of encouragement about what we were doing.  I discovered that my colleagues in the firm thought I was turning my back on our IT consulting practice.  I had cut off my support system.

I then made a switch and moved back into our traditional IT practice offering support for IT management issue.  Coincidentally I was doing strategic planning services to these clients.  It worked out really well for me and the consulting firm.

The lesson I learned was, if you want to alter the direction of your career, do not turn your back on your strengths but build on them to take you in a new direction.  If I had taken the approach of offering strategic planning services to the IT community, the transition would be much easier.

Another important lesson is that making a transition creates a great motivator to learn new things.  All through my career I have found every client situation was a great learning opportunity and opportunity for personal growth.

  1. Rob Halford Reply

    Not bad

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