I started working for the first time in a large corporation 5 months shy of my 40th birthday. Spending 17 years in the Tech field working in small companies and unsuccessfully running my own ventures. Finally there comes a first day at work kind of experience after 17 years of working.
The place I got my break was a Large Financial institution in San Francisco. There are two specific incidents I will never forget and I somehow survived without making a total fool of myself.
The first was while doing a Webex and I had to share my screen. I was sharing a spreadsheet and as other people were talking, my mind drifted into another thought and as part of my usual practice, I started rolling the trackball up and down. Along with that the screen also went up and down and I did not notice it.
A few minutes later a colleague of mine comes up and pats on my back and signals me not to do that. That is when it struck me that how inconvenient it will be for people staring at my screen. I had never shared my screen before… ever… All my meetings used to be on phone or in person. Imagine that… I learned something new… I remember this every time I share my screen and the thought is very humbling…
The next was when I had to schedule a meeting and I had never used Microsoft Outlook or any scheduling software in that large scale. We used to schedule meetings but not book rooms. My own ventures were all one room ventures and the companies I worked were also not such that we had to book a room in order to meet.
I figured out how to do it and saw one room that was free and booked it and felt accomplished. I had created my first calendar event. After a while another colleague of mine comes over to me and tells me that ‘Mother’s Room’ is not a room where you hold meetings. It is for Mothers… How would I know… I never knew anything like that even existed.. I was just a 40 year old guy with 17 years experience in the Tech industry. How lame can I be….
That was enough for me to lay some ground rules to learn. I had to observe and absorb at 10X speed not just work but also how things worked in a corporation. I also had to unlearn a lot. And I also found something interesting. I realized that some of the skills I had developed in my 17 years of ‘career vagabonding’ can really help me.
I could manage things that are unclear and ambiguous and bring structure to it. I could make a process for repeatable activities so that I could save time every time doing it. I could like a sponge absorb things and use it in a different context. This helped me.
After 18 months my contract was supposed to end, but the company made an exception and decided to keep me there and extended my contract. I continued there for a month and then had to leave as I got another better opportunity to get into the thick of Enterprise Content Management System Implementation. I left with some good memories and connections. I was going to join one of the largest implementation of Adobe AEM back then if I remember correct. Great learning again… And more un-learnings.
When I left the Financial Institution I was acting as the Content Management SME for 10 concurrent projects in Online Banking. This was what was being done by 3 people before. Yet I did not pursue a career in banking..
I moved on in Content Management and then to Ad-Tech and the E-Learning and all through making Agile the core of both my life and work…. Being Minimal Agile….
Rest of what I have been doing is on my LinkedIn Profile… Won’t waste people’s time here. But it is true when they say you can start over anytime. Even if you cannot quantify back then, you would have learned a lot by just having done something.
But tomorrow I will share some interested learnings from the last 11 years working in corporate America on a recovered career ticket. And I am loving it…. I am not in the rat race.. not even in a race… but I am also running…. I like that mobility… that agility… More Tomorrow…..
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