I will be joining the Global Innovation, Solution Architecture and Design team, working on building and evolving first-party and third-party solutions for 5G and voice.
Which is a fancy way of saying I’ve been kindly invited into yet another “master troubleshooter”/”organisational interpreter” role, but this time sitting inside the Azure product group and looking out for how what we build is designed, engineered and delivered to telco customers.
Goodbye, Industry Solutions
The past two years have been a wild ride–I joined what was called the Cross-Domain Delivery team to work with Fortune 500 companies across EMEA, became the goto person for telco solutions, and even as Microsoft Consulting re-cast itself into Industry Solutions and started setting up an approach to telcos all around me, after a while it just made sense to gravitate towards the Azure organisation itself since it takes me closer to the engineering teams and the guts of modern 5G and voice stacks.
After all, it’s no secret that I was finding the consulting part of the job (and the procedural overhead, plus all the paperwork) a tad unsatisfactory–the people were amazing, the customers fascinating, the solutions insanely complex and the teams very rewarding to work with, but in the end I just wasn’t having enough fun.
Paths Not Traveled
Which is why, back in Spring, I had an offer to work at a FAANG. It was literally a one-in-a-lifetime thing (with a fun backstory I should write about in a few years, but likely will not). I had everything lined up: a great opportunity for having immediate impact, good compensation, fully remote, and (most importantly) I enjoyed every single interview and met amazing people.
Then, all of a sudden, I was asked to start on the 17th of May, which was not only shorter than my notice period but would prevent us from having any sort of family vacation (which we finally managed to have, after two years). School would still be going on, COVID was flaring up again, etc.
After a grueling couple of sleepless nights, I decided not to take it.
I will never know how it would have panned out, and I’m realistic enough to not dwell on it since I will never know if it was the right decision career-wise, but it certainly was the best decision family-wise, and that is what matters.
But the fun thing was that, serendipitously, two days later I was told I would be promoted to Chief Architect for Telco Solutions–and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the financial year.
Back On The Saddle
All in all, the timing for this change couldn’t be more interesting.
In the Wild West that is the modern 5G space, I’m coming “back” right smack in the middle of spectrum auctions (yes, ANACOM, I’m looking at the unsightly mess you’ve made of the Portuguese auction), massive investment cycles and (most importantly) critical network roll-outs, and at a time when Microsoft is making some serious news in the space.
So, borrowing a friend’s words, it’s like a forest fire out there (at least metaphorically speaking). And yes, I fully expect to be putting out fires, just like the old days.
Technology-wise, since I worked in 3G/4G packet core and IMS when I was at Vodafone, it’s going to be quite interesting to dive into what 3GPP and the like have been up to over the past ten years–in particular, to try to understand how much they’ve messed up the 5G reference architecture and how it can be sanely re-cast in a cloud native form.
Ever the techology prepper, I’ve obviously kept tabs and have been gradually getting back into things during the past year, but now I can own up to it.
Let’s see how it goes, given that I already know what I like to do.