Ten Years


As of today I have been working for Vodafone Portugal (née Telecel) for ten years.

No, it’s not an April Fools’, but somehow I find the date very appropriate indeed.

The interesting thing is that I’m actually working with mostly the same people I started out with, even though the mind boggles at the amount of stuff that has changed since I left IP Global (now a box somewhere in the sprawling org chart of Novis) to help Telecel set up a dial-up ISP that became known as netc:

Now, some four ISP launches afterwards (we ended up doing business DSL, two flavors of mobile broadband, and a wholly-owned DSL network built from scratch) and after having worked in both the Marketing and Engineering sides of the company doing pretty much anything you can think of in a telco (game servers, content, business services, RADIUS, billing, Wi-Fi, VoIP, 3G, HSPA, DSL, DPI, you name it) I’m now doing essentially smartphone stuff (that much, at least, is public) as well as branching out into other less… conventional activities.

But the one thing I know for sure is that six months down the road that will change, for throughout these ten years I have had this knack for getting into “trouble”, at least as far as bleeding-edge stuff is concerned.

And that knack was precisely what made these past ten years a lot of fun (except, I should say, for a year or so during the later bits of my last stint in Engineering, partly because I felt I was completely losing sight of business aspects).

So yeah, ten years. Ten years of breaking new ground, ten years of acting as organizational interpreter between Engineering and Marketing, but, generally, ten years of fixing things that other people designed broken.

I suppose it’s never really going to change in that regard.

But one of the interesting bits that I’ve never shared with anyone before is that I promised myself, ten years ago (when the Internet was younger, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were great reading)1, that I would cast off my maverick image and spend ten years working at a reputable company.

This because a few people thought at the time (with the characteristic Portuguese narrowness of mind where it regards career management) that I would be too restless to stick around any one company. And being characteristically stubborn, I decided that I would prove them wrong, even if it took me ten years2.

But in retrospect, I ought to have thought less of their opinion – as far as I know, most of them are still where I left them. The world changed. Career metrics changed. Timescales changed, generally for the shorter. And the company I joined became restless itself3, in more ways than one.

To top it off, I became the “long term” guy. I delivered multi-year projects. I kept track of why things were designed in one way or another years back, and now know my way around the company nearly blindfolded (or without my glasses on, which amounts to nearly the same thing).

I became, oddly enough, one of the (very few) people who stuck around this long from the original ISP team, and although I moved around internally a lot I did it as the organization itself appointed me to this or that job (again, usually because there was something that needed fixing).

Time enough, I think, to start pondering what to do for the next ten years.

Whatever I do (and I honestly have no clue), I’m sure it will be very interesting indeed.

Previously, previously, previously.

1 With apologies/in homage to Douglas Adams, without whom (and the peculiarly warped sense of humor his books managed to instill in me) the past ten years would have been a lot less fun.

2 Yes, I will stick to something for at least that long.

3 The internal brand mantra is “Red, Rock Solid, Restless”, something I’ve always found particularly amusing.