Sometimes the moments are rich with memories. I’m sitting in my small hotel room in Petaling Jaya thinking about going out for a walk today and got some email on LinkedIn from a previous work colleague. Since its been a year plus now, not many in that community offer me work any longer but some still catch up. The recruiters have thankfully stopped offering connection requests and consulting positions that are
Just right for me
Of course they are not. None besides the last one was just right. If you have done IT and consulting you know how the drill is. You can read a thousand recruiters pitches and find elements in each one that will work. Sometimes more than one element. You can reflect that you know that thing but then there are second, third, fourth things which are not known. You know you will get asked during the phone screen about them. If you are or were a Project Manager, its always the mixture of things. I graduated from doing projects to managing large and intricate programs that were high risk, with short fuses, and with difficult vendors, never tried hardware in data centers, and cloud environments which had hidden risks and limitations and even advantages that we did not really know until we were well on the way. But be that as it may, I received more than my fair share of positions from recruiters that had two pages of things. I read one that was the kitchen sink of requirements to which I responded,
How many project managers you looking for to fill this thing?
Of course the answer is only one. Therein lies the problem with doing IT Projects and Programs. Throughout my 20 years of doing the work up until my last contract and then full time gig, we were the first to blame. I was yelled at, screamed at, threatened, insulted, demeaned and belittled and those were the good days. I was also told that it was our job to take notes, manage the calendar, and setup the WebEx meetings. What about the projects I always silently wondered? Well, I did not really do many of those until the end. My last two projects my manager and the executive leadership let me go. I just took the two multi-million dollar programs they handed over and delivered on them. They were full of intricacies and complexities, the schedules were wrong. They had to be done in 3 months and not 7 months. The schedule had gotten strange and I had to whack it back in shape. The vendors and subcontractors were concerned because none of our solutions had ever been used before. They basically added time to the schedule to account for discovery and issues. Well, all that had to go so I instructed them to trim it all out and only believe it could be done. Not that it would have issues. This resulted in shaving months off the schedule. But our vendors and partners were unhappy and told my management. My group VP just laughed when he told me about the phone calls from the client executive management team. He told them,
You will have to take the schedule, risks, and issues up with Mike. He owns all that.
Of course, that left IBM flabbergasted. When I worked for IBM previously, rarely were the project and program managers left to manage the programs or projects. We were bean counters to the 9th degree.
Why all this now?
Good question. Because of an email from a work colleague who I particularly enjoyed working (and drinking beer) with.It reminded me of how IT is broken in a few ways and how we do it anyways. I have so many friends that project and program managers who really hate it. They feel deceived and lied to. Perhaps played. But then it comes time to get the next gig. Up goes the attitude and “can and will do” feelings. I did the same for 20 years. It was all a facade, a fake, a story. For the first 18 years plus or minus a few startup things I did, I was just a bean counter and explainer to CIOs of other companies why a thing could not get done.
Now I’m retired…
And I have the right and privilege to complain even for things in the past about how IT Project and Program Managers are treated. We are the least appreciated and most blamed people on a project. Retiring has meant that the lens and mirror has shattered and I can look at the email my friend sent and realize how truly great retirement is from that world. I have a simpler life. I don’t do tasks and milestones and schedules and accomplishments. Or blame. I don’t like responsibilities either and shy away from them.
All of this came tumbling through from a single email from a LinkedIn connection and friend. Now the whole previous life has unraveled and become something that is in the past. Yet I remember. And I’m glad to not be there any more. So that’s a reflection and perhaps a damning one on certain recruitment practices and certain beliefs by previous managers, CIOs, CEOs and others of our value. I can easily say now that if you don’t like it too bad. You ain’t paying me any longer.
And that Is such a good thing.