Because of my own personal reaction (usually shock and worry) every time I see a female engineering leader go through a reduction in scope, a non-promotion-releated role change, or an outright departure, and because of my own desire to make it easier to support each other with changes and growth, I shared this information with my organization recently when I made the decision to move from a Director of Engineering to a Staff individual contributor role.
I am a sucker for growth opportunities. Sometimes they come at me without checking if I want them first. 😅 In this case, I chose it. I had many options to continue on my present course, and I’m sure I’ll consider Director options again in the future – it’s a dynamic role full of rewarding experiences, and I love it so much. And I’m taking a turn from that path to dig more into one area of many that I’m passionate about, and that is team and system health and availability.
For sure, it was not an easy decision. I had to come to terms with:
- letting go of a title that I’d made part of my identity
- 😬😬 the disruption it would cause many of those I work with
- 😥 the optics of not continuing on the obvious advancement path for others like me to easily follow
- and much more
There were a couple big things I needed to get clean about, too, and stay clean on because my brain brings it up often – this isn’t a miss or a failure, and it’s not a step back or a smaller role. Our industry and traditions and other companies may disagree, but managers are not more important than ICs – these are different roles, and they partner to deliver. Directors and staff roles at my company are the same level and expected to make a similar amount of impact, same as other roles with common levels. We’re all engineering leaders here, with varying responsibilities and scopes, and I feel very fortunate to work somewhere that recognizes this and supports this mobility and opportunity. And it’s neat to think of the opportunities and growth that my stepping out will create, too. I wanted to be sure that this move is good for me, and for my company.
On the topic of roles, I’m also a mother and a partner and a caregiver, and wanted to work more on those aspects of my life. This does not mean it is too hard to have a management career with good work-life balance – that is absolutely doable. I’ve done it 😉 and I’ll do it again. It is simply what prompted me to think about changing how I work and/or what I’m working on. Circumstances were such that I was working long workdays instead of managing that and sticking to boundaries. Once I started trying different tactics to address that, I had other ideas that I got excited about, liked one a lot, and went for it.
“So Liz, what’s the dirt?” Yeah, there are definitely things that could be better, but with every job and role change I’ve had, there’s a sweet moment of relief from distancing myself from those things, until I find the new gig’s things that could be better. So instead of running away from the pain points, I tackled them, leaving me better prepared and stronger for the next set of challenges. I’ve made some changes, given feedback, and I’ll continue to follow up. So… sorry, not too much dirt here I’m afraid, and nothing sinister at play anywhere. 😇
I’m a huge fan of DX work, always. And I have a production engineering background, so expanding on some of that again is going to be a great part of my story, and certainly not the end of it, and I am so excited. It’s another great beginning.
There is another announcement of sorts that has turned into a FAQ. About six months ago, we moved out of Hawaii to another state. We live in in the beautiful red rock desert country near Zion National Park and not far from the Grand Canyon. Many have commented how we keep selecting the most beautiful parts of the USA to live in, and I don’t disagree. It’s a very different type of beauty than what is in Hawaii, but beautiful nonetheless.
“But Liz, why would you ever move out of Hawaii? You loved Hawaii!”
I absolutely still do love Hawaii. But it’s very very difficult to find Diet Dr. Pepper on tap anywhere there! So I had to go. I have my priorities.
Kidding about that being the reason, though it’s true that it is hard to find Diet Dr. Pepper. And about having priorities, as I am as mentioned above a mother and partner and caregiver. Remote island life has many perks, and there were options for those previous people in my life that I’m a caregiver for, and we were looking for more variety and resources for them, too. They’ve been thriving, and I’m adjusting to life with more seasons again and settling in wonderfully.
When I had to travel away from my island home, I would say that I can live the island life wherever I am. And now I get to really practice that.