One Year In @ VMware – A Q&A With Myself

Recently, my first anniversary working for VMware came and went. It’s crazy to think that it’s been a year. On the one hand, I still feel like the “new guy” every single day, and that’s OK because it means I am still learning. On the flip side, everyone who I have worked with has been top-notch – it feels like I’ve been here forever.

With that in mind, I always enjoyed asking folks who jumped from customer to vendor, “What’s it like”? So, that’s where this blog post comes in.

Before I get too deep into the post, I want to give some context to this first picture. At the time, everyone in the picture, except for me, worked for VMware. Working for VMware wasn’t even on the radar as a possibility. Within about 4 months of that photo being taken, I had an employee ID. Life can move quick.

BACKGROUND

VMware WWSKO 2018Of course, this can only be my opinion and based on my experiences. I spent 15+ years on the customer side, going from tech support to sysadmin, to IT Manager. I now work for a relatively large, and global organization as a Technical Account Manager. The name of the position doesn’t accurately describe it. I like to think of it as a problem solver who is the liaison between the IT operations team and senior management. There are a ton of other vendors out there, and frankly, there are a ton of other positions within VMware out there. So, take this all with a grain of salt. Be sure to keep in mind that these are insights into my role, with my team.

In no particular order, let me conduct an AMA with myself:

Now that you jumped to a vendor, what does your day to day job look like?

Obviously, this is highly dependent on the role that you are in. In my case, it is a matter of making sure that my customer is as successful as possible. That may sound like crazy sales talk, but guess what? I’m not in sales. I’ve found that with this mindset, things become a lot easier. If I can offer some advice, or know someone who might know an answer to a query, I make sure to get that information. Long story short though, I don’t know what each day will look like. Sure, I have meetings booked in my calendar, sometimes weeks in advance. But, if my customer is having an issue, they are my priority – I do everything I can to get them through it.

What does your work-life balance look like?

In short, it is far better than before. Sure, some days are long, and things don’t always play out as expected. But, on the flip side, if I am on PTO, I’m on PTO. We have other folks in place to cover things, and escalation contacts are easy enough to find if you need to hit the panic button. Further to that, VMware has Zoom licenses for most, if not all staff. Lot’s of organizations are either multi-location or offer remote work for employees. If we need to get a bunch of folks together quickly, more often than not I can just fire up a Zoom session and have folks connect.

What do I miss most about being on the customer side?

Feel free to ask questions; delegates won't bite, unless you say "on-premise".
TFD14 held in Boston, May 2017.

Short answer: engaging with the vCommunity in person. Don’t get me wrong, I still try to engage, and I’ll be the first to admit that my blogging and tweeting has dropped off dramatically over the past year. Part of that is due to the job change, and part of it is due to a personal re-focus on life. But at the end of the day, I do miss attending great events such as VeeamON, Tech Field Day, and HPE Discover. Ironically, it is also harder to attend VMworld as a VMware employee now.

Do I regret taking a job that has pulled me away from these things? Absolutely not. Those events were a step in my journey to where I am now. It isn’t to say that I won’t be back doing them at some point, but it isn’t something I am actively trying to accomplish.

What’s been the biggest positive surprise?

Being set up for success. Once again, this is likely very different from employer to employer. In my case, VMware has no shortage of ways that they try and support you, the employee. I have access to more training catalogs that I could have dreamed of. We have all sorts of internal committees that you can reach out to for guidance or join if you want to help out. And of course, the people. It is great that I can look up who a product manager is, reach out to them as a total stranger, and get a response back in the short term. Not only that, they are committed to helping me get what I need to help our customers.

What’s been the biggest negative surprise?

This might sound like a cop-out, but I really can’t think of anything negative since I have joined. I mean I still need to deal with stress, I spend a ton more time commuting every day, and I don’t get to touch tech in production anymore. But, I’ve found ways to turns those into positives. I exercise more now, which helps bleed off any stress I may have, and it actually gives me some time to think. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts at a crazy rate now while commuting. I’m more strategic now in my lab time (i.e. the customer is looking to do X – let me test that out). It may sound lame, but with any negatives I can think of, I’ve been able to get value out of them.

WRAPPING THINGS UP

Are things great? Absolutely! Are they beyond awesome more often than not? Definitely? Is every day a walk in the park? Definitely not! The jump to a vendor was something that I had wanted for a long time. Has it been everything that I thought it would be? No … it’s probably been better than I thought it would be. But that is me. I needed a change, I knew what I wanted to get away from (being in operations), and I knew more or less what I was looking for. Does that mean that jumping to a vendor is right for everyone? Heck no!

Lot’s of folks like to tinker with various technologies – when you jump to a vendor, that can get a lot harder. If you work for NetApp, chances are you won’t get to play around with the newest Pure storage array. My point is that although lots of folks in our industry look at vendors when it comes to a job change, just be sure you are serious with yourself. It’s OK to not want to go to a vendor.

If you happen to be reading this and have any follow-up questions, please do not hesitate to reach out, whether in public or private. I know that when I was going through the journey, I took the opportunity to ask anyone I could.

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