Saturday, May 24, 2008

Job Decision

It's finally official. After nearly two months of applications, interviews, travel, negotiation, introspection, and extremely hard thinking, I've made a job decision. Come January next year, I'll start as a Program Manager in Microsoft's SQL Server team.

This was a very difficult decision, as I had to choose between five compelling offers. In the end, there were two primary considerations: location, and how I want to contribute to my field.

My offers spanned two locations: Microsoft in Seattle, and the others in Silicon Valley. I characterized my options as better quality of life in Seattle vs. proximity to networking and friends in Silicon Valley. Seattle's quality of life is better due to lower cost of living, much cheaper housing (I can actually afford a nice house my first year), and significantly nearer mountains. It also feels more laid-back. On the other hand, Silicon Valley hosts constant interaction between innumerable tech companies, providing excellent networking opportunities and mobility. Also, several of my friends live there.

For me, Seattle and Silicon Valley were effectively tied. However, this was a two-person decision, so Sarah joined me in visiting both places. She met and loved my Silicon Valley friends, and received a great tour of Seattle courtesy of Microsoft. Sarah sees locations differently than I do. I pick a job, and that decides the location; Sarah picks a location, then finds a job. Location is part of how she defines where she wants her life headed. As it happens, before we were engaged, she was already looking to move to the Pacific Northwest. Thus, though she liked California, and especially my friends, Washington is closer to where she wants to be. This was one consideration.

The other strong consideration clarified after many conversations with mentors. The key question is how I want to contribute to my field. One path is as a technical luminary, with primarily technical contributions. This path includes god-like developers, researchers, and other deeply technical people. My offers at IBM, Oracle, and Yahoo! followed this path. Another path is as a technical manager, with primarily leadership and strategic contributions. This path includes general managers, CEOs, and other big-picture people. My offers at Google and Microsoft followed this path. I've spent most of my life as a deep techie. However, due to some eye-opening experiences and a lot of introspection, I've decided that, at least currently, my calling is management and leadership.

Neither of these considerations alone decided me. But due to both together, plus several others secondary, I've accepted the Microsoft offer. A couple things in particular really impressed me about the position. First, I got to meet several team members, including my future boss, and they're all amazing. Second, Microsoft is very serious about investing in people and building careers, so the opportunities for mentorship and advancement are fantastic. I'm extremely excited, and really looking forward to starting. All that's left is to finish my doctorate!

Finally, to wrap up, I want to very sincerely thank everyone who helped me throughout this process. All of my mentors for their advice; all of my friends for their time, love, connections, and support; and all of my family for putting up with weeks of waffling (individuals may fall into more than one category). I know not everyone will be happy with my decision, but I hope you will all be happy for me. Of course, feel free to send along any particularly strong variations on "You fool!". I promise no hard feelings.


Anonymous said...

Congrats Pedro!! I'm sorry you won't be joining us in the bay area, but I'm proud of you for making a solid decision and for having so many options. You're going to be successful wherever you go, and your career is just getting started, so who knows where you'll end up next. Make sure you say hi to Weej when you get out there! ;) All the best, js

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! I'm glad I've had many opportunities to hear your thoughts on this, or I'd be worried that we'd be losing you to Microsoft's evil clutches. Quite the contrary, it does sound like a nurturing job environment with a great deal of freedom.

It sounds like you've made a great choice, so you have my heartfelt congratulations! We'll celebrate next time you're down. :)


Pat said...

Belated Congratulations man. It's been a minute since I checked up on your blog, but I'm happy to read the (old) news.

Well done!