I’m someone with a Systems Engineering degree, a decade and a half of overexposure to the Internet, and (horror of horrors to the uninitiated), Marketing experience – as well as social graces that allow me to mediate between geeks and “regular” folk.
I’ve pretty much done it all in the telco world, having been immersed in Wi-Fi, 3G (UMTS) and IP-related stuff at a major global GSM operator for several years (eleven, actually) and moved on to a simultaneously smaller (i.e., local) but larger (i.e., more diversified) company as part of a career reboot to seek new challenges.
During the intervening time, I acted either as a solutions architect interfacing with Marketing or as a product manager interfacing with Engineering, dealing with long, big, extremely convoluted projects that spanned companies, national borders and yearly budgets.
Suffice it to say that it’s long stopped being about technology.
Where? What? How? When?
By popular demand, here’s a little chart of what I did, where I did it and roughly for how long, without being too boring (updated for 2010):
If I had a job description, it would be somewhere between “geek herder” and “organizational interpreter”. My key skill is being able to communicate clearly regardless of my audience – something that I ascribe to my having long paid more attention to people than technology.
I have a knack for absorbing (and understanding) technology like a sponge, and my ability to explain whatever aspects of it are necessary for people to understand tends to associate me with the tech itself rather than the truly important thing – i.e., the impact it has on people and business.
What I do most (besides drowning in e-mail, spreadsheets, product specs, regulatory stuff and trendy mobile Web 2.0 and smartphone stuff), is mediate – that is, present and explain things to people in an understandable fashion, complete with diagrams that actually mean something, and then get them to act upon it.
I do a lot of analysis and planning stuff, usually on the bleeding edge of things – which, in a telco, means year-long projects that will use some sort of technology that isn’t even around yet, so there is a lot of coding and paperwork involved while the details are hammered out. It adds up to a lot of documents, prototypes, tests and umpteen versions of web pages, promotional material, use case docs, project plans and network diagrams or budget spreadsheets (the kind that won’t even fit into a 20” screen – believe me, I tried it).
My knack for technology has come with another mixed blessing, which is that I keep getting involved in all the latest bleeding edge stuff, and often sit in work groups in advisory roles just because of that.
But mostly, I’ve been doing product development for so long that if something isn’t working, has a cranky business model or needs clarification of some sort, it is sure to find its way to my desk on its own (I honestly don’t go looking for any of it, and it can get unnerving at times).
So I get involved daily on a lot of convoluted discussions concerning the intersection between technology and business models in the mobile frontier. That should give you an idea of how wild it can get, and how leery I am of hype and fantastic new business models (especially the kind with revenue projections that only go up).
It’s damned hard, damned stressful, and currently requires a degree of self-motivation that most people can’t even begin to guess at, since I often find myself at odds with several conflicting business/technical/policy issues at a time, and no way out but disentangling them bit by bit. Literally.
I think Dilbert sums it up best, really.
Obviously, the people who I work with (now and in the past) are a great help (and I count myself lucky in that regard).
Why The Mac?
There’s a whole FAQ on the site, but the gist of it is that at one point I needed something more (at least something more immediately rewarding), and since I can’t ever really tune out from work, I did the next best thing: almost a decade ago I bought an iMac and went back to basics: powerful, flexible computers that were stable, friendly and actually let me do what I want to do with my dwindling free time, like managing my humungous CD collection, tallying my books and sorting my photo album.
The Mac also lets me indulge in coding, keep track of the multitude of projects I’m always involved in, and, of course, maintain this site.
It started out as a sort of experiment, and I find it to be my most productive home environment yet, although it requires a lot of patience when dealing with corporate stuff.
Finally, please take a moment to read this site’s Disclaimer if you haven’t done so yet.