Thinking Outside the Big Green Box

In October I had the dubious honor of laying off my entire team (they’ve all found excellent new positions). At the time I was to have joined them in a workforce reduction, but my position was retained and instead assigned to the group of people included in the SUSE acquisition of HPE Cloud. The acquisition is now complete and I once again find myself in a position to make a change.

I joined HPE in September of 2015 because I wanted to make a difference to a team of open source developers. To do so, I stepped down from a Director role into a Senior Manager one. The team was amazing, full of people whose capabilities and brilliance humbled me daily. I have no regrets and am grateful that I had the opportunity. I did not want to see it end.

The SUSE acquisition has put me into a different role, one which isn’t the direction I wish to take my career. Furthermore, it would do so at a Senior Manager level. I didn’t mind the step down when I was supporting a team devoted to open source, but upon reflection I find I do mind it when I’m working on a product rather than a passion. Therefore I’ve chosen to leave the team which has moved over to SUSE. They’ll do great, but they’ll do it without me.

While I am moving on, it’s not without sadness. I am leaving behind several inspiring people. Jim Meyer has proved the power of empathy and compassion in leadership and in product development, supporting and encouraging each member of the team to live life to the fullest and become the best person they can be, all while advancing the Helion OpenStack product. Allison Randal has been a sympathetic listening ear, always there with advice and an overflowing love for the team and for free and open source. Samuel de Medeiros Queiroz, I may miss you most of all. Your energy, enthusiasm, and passion continually remind me of the magic of open source, bringing people together and changing lives for the better. Thank you, to these three and to all the Parrots (you know who you are).

What’s next? Well, that’s a very good question. Running an open source program office would be fairly ideal. I’ve been working in the open source policy and strategy space for a while and would like to do that full time rather than on the side as I have been, but I don’t wish to limit myself. I’ve been leading software engineering departments and teams for most of the past 10 years. My teams tell me I’m a superb manager and leader. I know business. I know open source. I know community. How can I combine some or all of these? Let’s find out.

If you know or hear of anything in the open source space (strategy, policy, leading a team of people who work in open source, etc), I’d really appreciate it if you could send it my way. I currently have a contract helping a company open source an internal product. I’m looking forward to that project, but it’s temporary. I’m looking for the Forever Home I’d hoped HPE would be.

Drop me a line: anonymoushash at vmbrasseur dot com.

My resume: http://www.vmbrasseur.com/resume.pdf.

You don’t get to decide what you’re “worth”

Money from around the worldFolks frequently ask me for career advice, particularly when they’re starting a job hunt. In that situation, almost all of them ask the same general question: “How do I know what I’m worth?”

This, dear friends, is the wrong question. The reason it’s the wrong question is that you do not get to decide how much you are worth.

Setting aside the uncomfortable implication that a human being has an intrinsic monetary value (we are all priceless), the truth of the matter is that the word “worth” is incomplete without the context of “to whom/what.” Where a job hunt is concerned, the “to whom” is the prospective employer, not you.

There are certain numbers which you get to decide and/or control. You should take the time to figure out how much money you need, how much money you want, and how much money you will accept. These three numbers are rarely the same, if you’re being very honest with yourself, but they are the numbers over which you have some control.

The prospective employer, on the other hand, must determine the value it believes you will provide to the organization and how much it is willing to pay for that value. This is typically a range and is the “worth” in question here. While you may be able to influence this number, you have no control over it. Your power at this point lies solely in deciding whether or not you wish to accept the worth defined by the company, not in defining that worth itself.

This distinction of who gets to define worth is very important (as are your definitions of your personal need, want, accept numbers), but I acknowledge that the entire point is well-actuallying pedanticism. I used the question of “what am I worth?” as a springboard to discuss the above points rather than focusing on the real question being asked here: “What sort of pay should I expect for this role?” That’s a horse of a different color entirely.

While you cannot control what the company offers you, it is entirely possible to get some sense of what you might be able to expect as far as pay. Note: This is a sense of what to expect. It is not going to be an accurate number but it may be somewhere in the ballpark. The reason for that is that the same role will pay completely differently based upon variables such as industry, geography, size of company, whether it’s a non-profit, whether it’s a government agency… For instance, a project manager can probably expect to be offered more for a role at a large and successful startup in Silicon Valley than at a government research lab in Tennessee.

What follows are a list of resources you can use to research what a role may potentially pay, but treat the data as suggestions rather than gospel. It’s best to check all of the resources and compare the data you receive, as it often will differ between resources. Also, these resources are good for US-based positions. I currently do not have resources for jobs based outside the US. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments.