25 Mar Lessons I Learned at Pythian
I want to start with the news that on Monday Mar 1st, I presented my resignation letter at Pythian, and after reading an article by Dave Rensin on his lessons learned at Google, I wanted to write my version of what I have learned at Pythian.
While I was making this decision, in one of the conversations I had with my wife, she mentioned that I’m a very cyclical person as important dates or decisions in my life normally fall on or around the same date years later.
Reminiscing on this I remembered that the same weekend of Mar 1st, 8 years ago, I was flying out of Beijing airport to join a company where its CEO (Paul Vallee) initially attracted me to join over a talk we had at Open World in 2012.
During that conversation he described a clear vision for Pythian as a high performance company with a terrific culture and a worldwide presence. After giving it a good thought after that conversation, I decided to take the leap and join this great team. I actually wrote about my first week of being a Pythianite which you can read here, but for now I will delve on the journey and a few thoughts around my experiences learned during these 8 years.
Lesson #1: If You Are Convinced It Is for You, Take the Leap
At the time I had that conversation with Paul I was living a pretty good life in Beijing with a good job and some nice adventures, but in my professional life I had this feeling that something was missing. Paul introduced me to Yury Velikanov during the OOW Blogger’s meetup and we had a discussion of what he was doing at Pythian and I felt that it was something that I would like to do. So I reached out to Greg Leger with my resume and went through a pretty rough interview process.
After several months of this process, I got a job offer and we came to terms for me to join Pythian on March 1st, 2013 as a remote Oracle consultant. At that time I decided to leave my home in Beijing, leave behind my ex-partner in Beijing (as she didn’t want to leave Beijing yet) and move back to México to start the journey at Pythian. I can’t say it wasn’t stressful going through a change of home, country and job, but I thought it was worth it to do it.
And boy was it worth it, I traveled to great locations around the world sharing what I have learned and being sponsored for it. I was able to meet to Oracle PMs, ACE Directors and even the now CEO of Oracle, Safra Catz. But above all I got to work with some of the greatest minds in the Oracle space and some that were in other technologies.
Lesson #2: What You Want You Can Achieve It, You Just Have to Work for It
Back in those days, the onboarding process for Pythian used to be a 3 week immersion in Ottawa where you would get to meet most of the people who worked in the office and have one on ones with your teammates,VPs and CEO so that you could get a feel of the work culture and what it meant to be a Pythianite. One of my goals that I had set to myself when I joined Pythian was to become an Oracle ACE and at that time Alex Gorbachev was our CTO and ACE Director.
When my time came to have my 1:1 with Alex I asked him on how I could become an Oracle ACE and he said up front you have to work hard for it and because you are now at Pythian I won’t be able to support your nomination. I won’t lie that I actually expected the opposite, that he would try to nominate me and help me achieve it faster.
What I did receive was the support from his end on topics for blogging, presentation ideas and how I could help out the Oracle community to achieve this goal. His words and actions actually helped me work hard for this nomination and was given the first ACE Associate award that Oracle gave out and later achieve my goal of being an Oracle ACE.
Lesson #3: Assume Everyone is Smarter Than You
I’m stealing this lesson from David’s blog, but I think that it is also applicable at Pythian. I had the opportunity to work along great minds like Andre Araujo (who to this day is one of the coolest person I know and his smarts is something out of this world), Gwen Shapira, Yury Velikanov,Karun, Dutt,Simon Paine,Bjoern Rost, Sabiha Choudry, Luke Davies, Gleb Otochkin, Carlos Rolo and I can go on and on and not finish.
Everyone I worked with at Pythian made me look better than I actually am. I will forever be grateful of working alongside them and having learned tech skills or soft skills that have put me ahead in my career.
Lesson #4: Always Be Open to New Ideas and They Will Take You to Great Places
When I joined Pythian, I always thought that I was here to grow my Oracle Tech skills, but a few years later I had a conversation with a previous client and now manager who convinced me to take a role of being a lead for the Open Source team.
A few months later I got the opportunity to start the C* service offering here at Pythian, leading me to grow on a fast track my soft skills as I got to work side by with departments that I had very little contact with on my day to day when I was an Oracle consultant, like marketing, sales, legal and accounting.
These years I think I learned things and meet people who I would have never had imagined to meet if I had not taken these roles. Later in my career life threw me a few curveballs and asked my managers to allow me back to Oracle tech and with open arms they allowed me to do so, which by doing so allowed me to take this new challenge which I’m venturing to.
Lesson #5: Treat Everyone as You Would Like to Be Treated
Being a consultant in a service provider company, we are normally the outsiders for the company we are working for. During these years I actually learned that if I got involved in the goals that my clients strived toward to, their professional needs and, yes from time to time, their personal raison d’être, we could congeal in a much better way and work towards their objectives in a much smoother way.
But not only that, it would also allow me to enjoy what I did for a job on a daily basis. As well, one of the coolest things that can happen to you as a consultant, is that several clients once they learned that I was moving away is that they reached out personally and said that if they had knew that I was changing jobs, they would have tried to lure me away 🙂 . I want to think that both the work I did for them is one of the reasons they would want me to work for them, but also the relationship that we built helped for them to reach out with those words and sentiments.
I have enjoyed more than I could say my tenure at Pythian. I have been allowed to do what I like to do at work while at the same time, grow my professional network through blogs, conferences and volunteering. While doing conferences, I got to know a great part of the world and meet people who have become great friends.
I was one of the recipients of the first LIVE awards, which at Pythian celebrated a body of work for their on-going contribution in the areas of Leadership, Innovation, Value and Engagement and from my point of view I leave here thinking that I was able to bring my flavour to Pythian and leave a small mark in this company.
I can’t thank enough everyone at Pythian that have made me feel like this is was a family I worked with.
I am excited for the new role and position that I am taking as I am reuniting with several people who I look up to and have enjoyed working with. Bringing new challenges, adventures and personal growth in my life. But one thing for sure,I will always speak fondly of the time I spent with my fellow Pythianites.