I’m back on the job market after 14 months of serving as executive vice president of product and technology at a 35-ish person company in Washington DC. Sixteen fine folks at that company reported up to me, as I led four teams: software development, user experience, product fulfillment, and IT. I will miss many of them, and it was incredibly sad for me when I finally decided to leave that position.
I say “finally decided” in the previous paragraph because I knew within a few months that the environment was not a good fit for me, based on some pretty big differences in some core values. However, if I followed my gut at that time, it would have seriously jeopardized a larger project with an external organization, and there was no way I was going to let that happen, regardless of my own misery. The same could be said at three other points, nearly equally spaced, in my time there…but at some point enough had to be enough, and for my own sanity (and my partner’s!), I decided it was time to go.
So on to the future…I don’t know what it will hold, but I do know how I can help organizations, so if you or anyone you know needs someone like me for any length of time (quick-hit consulting or a longer gig), please do let me know via LinkedIn or @jcmeloni.
My core values (in no particular order) include: a strong belief in the privacy and portability of one’s own data, honesty, transparency, open source where it makes sense, and intertwingled UX and development teams. You can also learn a lot about me by reading the answers to questions at various StackExchange sites, especially The Workplace; my Careers 2.0 profile highlights some of these answers.
Things I enjoy a great deal (in no particular order):
- promoting and leading development in open source software where possible, rational, and relevant (I’m not at all against proprietary tools; I am most interested in making sure that an organization is using the right set of technologies for their current and future needs, and typically that leans toward OSS. But if yours is an awesome and efficient Microsoft-oriented shop, then super duper: that’s one less thing to fix so we can focus on other issues.)
- informing, training, and generally evangelizing the role of UX in the software development process (this is probably my favorite)
- adhering to solid project management principles for the good of an organization, a product, its developers, and its end users (wait, this one is pretty good too)
- helping organizations—especially small and/or technically understaffed—understand software development methodologies and begin to implement something that makes sense for them (no, wait, this one is really my favorite)
- other related things, with gusto (gusto is good)
I could go on. I mean, I’ve worked in this field almost since it’s been a field (1994 was a looong time ago, period, let alone in Internet time), and despite taking some breaks to do other things like write some books, get some degrees, and teach undergrads some stuff, web development (writ large) is still something I care about and enjoy. Also, there’s a lot left to build.
Several years ago I made the conscious choice to move away from the hands-on building of things and into the architecting/direction/management side of things, because I thought (and still do) that I can provide more value to organizations by creating solid roadmaps and user stories, and UX and QA testing plans, and managing and mentoring groups of people than I could by simply being a single developer. While this choice makes job searching a bit more difficult since there are many more jobs for pure developers than for senior manager/director/VP folks, I’m confident something will work out with some organization out there looking for someone like me.
Make no mistake, despite moving away from hands-on work, I’ll dissect your technical infrastructure and then go ahead and provision a bunch of boxes to implement a new one when needed, or I’ll take a look at your web application and break it all into appropriately-managable tiers myself if I have to. But you, prospective employer, will get greater value out of me as a product owner or a director of software development, or some similar role in your company where you have a bunch of folks trying to make something work, who need some guidance both for their current tasks and for amazing future growth of their skillsets, the product, and your company.