Monday, May 30, 2005

The long good-bye

I have been thinking about leave taking and the phrase, "this will be the last time..." quite a lot lately. You see, after almost fifteen years at the same company, in the same division, doing the same thing, I have accepted an offer of employment with a competitor. The decision to do so has not been easy. Nay, it has been rather difficult but the time has come leave Company B. And, I know it. I think my direct boss knows it but, in typical PHB fashion, has his head so deep in the sand or his manager's you-know-what that he doesn't really want to know it. MBH definitely knows it and has known for probably longer than I have. He has been a major cheerleader while I have struggled with this decision and his support has been the rock I've clung to these past two or three weeks. So now that time to go has come, the actual leaving can't come soon enough.

I have been doing a dance with Company E for several years now. They are one of Company B's largest competitors and, to make matters more interesting, they are in Company B's backyard, literally. If we were doing a job or working on a project locally, I could guarantee that I would see someone from the Evil Empire at bid meetings, trying to get into the back door, etc. Like clockwork, they would call every six months or so and say "Hey, BC, we really, really want you to come to work for us. We can offer x,y, and z. You are stagnating over there at Company B. Come work for us please." It was always pretty easy to say, “Gee, thanks for the offer. You know, I think I’ll pass. I’m pretty happy here. yadayadayada.” It was an easy answer and basically true. I was happy. Bored sometimes but I had faith that eventually, things would get more interesting. Until recently that is.

Several weeks ago, I received my bi-annual call from Company E. They had my dream job. They were looking for someone to head up a global group of designers. They were ready to take it to the next level and they wanted me to head up the effort. Basically to create a home-grown group of hired guns and shape the world wide message for this group. Not only was it more money but it was the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do, be the head guru of a respected group of engineers. “Would you be interested?” the recruiter asked me over the phone. Would I be interested?! Sure, I’ll take a look at it. I was pretty sure before I got the job description that I would have the same answer I had always had in the past, but MBH is always telling me to look at all offers. The job description came. I read it and with each passing second I could feel the excitement building. Hey! Who has been in my brain scanning my dreams and desires? Before I knew it, I was in the throes of the dance. I was pretty sure I wanted this job but my loyalty to Company B was strong. I’ve been there for fifteen years after all. Besides, they had been promising me more control, more projects that showcase my talents and I wanted to see how that would pan out. Then came the meeting I had last Tuesday.

A few weeks ago, my boss, his boss, and the director of our division came to me during our huge love-fest and asked if I would like to take on a role that would include more interaction with our clients, the Top Gun position as it were. I jumped at the opportunity. I actually like working with our clients face to face. I like being in the trenches with our distributors and working the deal. On Tuesday, I was getting ready to leave on a big trip to visit a client who was ready to give us more business than we really could handle. We all sat down for a strategy meeting and after the meeting, discussion drifted to the Top Gun position we had been talking about a few weeks ago. “Well, I’m not sure what we are going to do with that position. And the more we think about it, you are just too valuable in-house to lose”, the Director said. All the sudden it was clear, I was never going to get out of running the in-house group doing the same boring thing, day after day. I was “too valuable”. I had been pigeon holed and there was no way out. The only thing preventing me from immediately accepting Company E’s offer was gone. On Wednesday, at the airport on my way to visit my client, I verbally accepted the offer. Thus began the long good-bye. That process of saying to myself, “This will be the last time I do insert-task/event here for Company B”. My last business trip, my last meeting with this client, my last expense report, my last plunking down of the corporate credit card, my last Company B business card handed out, my last “yes, THAT company” answered to a seat-mate somewhere over Kansas. And soon, before I know it, the last day will be here.

I will be sad. I have developed many close friendships with the people I work with and will miss seeing them every day. I still think Company B is a fine company. But, the time has come to move on. To do new things. To dream new dreams and work with new people. I’m excited and scared all at the same time. But, as a line from one of my favorite movies, “Fried Green Tomatoes”, goes: “A lady always knows when it time to leave”.