My First Month on the Job

Regular readers may notice a full month has already passed since I started my new job. My sole regret is I have not worked as closely with the people from my previous team whom helped me learn and grow as a manager, engineer and person during the past several years. Of course, my main reason for taking on this new role was to learn from and grow with a different set of people to develop and hone a different set of skills. Consequently, this adjustment comes as no surprise. The reality is still a bit disappointing, nonetheless.

To celebrate the occasion I thought I would share a few of my observations thus far. Keep in mind I have not been in my new role long enough to substantiate most of the tidbits below but my hunch is most of my early perceptions/observations are generally applicable within my domain and beyond. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Mis-/conceptions about “Marketing Types”

  1. They talk a lot. This one is true and self-explanatory. Why is it the case? I do not yet know but endeavor to find out.
  2. They know little. Having spent the first stages of my career on the engineering (aka product development) side of the house I fully expected to encounter and be assimilated into the stereotype applied to marketing folk best described as “How much one says is inversely proportional to how much one knows.” Typically this is after observers have already witnessed bullet #1 above. Let me emphatically state I have been blown away with just how technically deep “these people” 😉 are. Moreover, their breadth of knowledge about the technologies they own and the sub-industries their products compete in is mind-boggling. It is as if I can feel the universe expanding whenever I am in a meeting, on a conference call, etc. It is both exhilirating and sobering.
  3. Introverts do not make good product managers. This one is both true and false. It is patently false that a person with an introverted personality (as in a Myers-Briggs “E” vs. “I”) would be unable to succeed in a product management role. However, the truth is people who are able to apply their skillset and have an impact in an extroverted manner are likely to be more successful in a customer-facing, strategizing, messaging, integrating, industry awareness, etc. kind of role like product management or technical marketing.
  4. They dress better. This one is unquestionably true. Any engineer who denies it is in denial. There are obvious reasons why this makes sense — see “customer-facing” above — but it is worth listing since I have now been guilty of both sides of this comparison.
  5. They care about their bodies and eat better. Some may consider this another obvious no-brainer but I list it here because I am not sure why it is true. One could draw parallels between how one dresses and how one views his/her vessel but it seems bizarre to correlate external and internal perception of one’s self considering engineers, as a group, seem to think more highly of their talents, knowledge and individual abilities compared to other occupations. As an example which supports this observation:

    One of my new teammates is an avid runner and is training for a triathlon. Recently, while out to lunch with my new team of non-engineers-by-occupation, we actually spent a good 15-20 minutes talking about dieting, poor eating habits and the caloric content of some of the more popular edibles. In my 7+ years on engineering teams such topics were never discussed in a group setting particularly over lunch and especially not among a group of all guys.

    Still not convinced? How about the following:

    I had dinner with a few public relations folk and a journalist this past week as a follow-up to a press briefing I completed earlier in the day. We ate at Yarrow Bay Grill, one of the posh, waterfront restaurants on the eastside. Everyone decided on the 5-course Chef’s Menu which had many seafood and exotic vegetable options. The three women from the PR firm also decided to partake in a wine sampling expedition which left the table littered with empty bottles after a couple hours. In contrast, upon reaching a successful milestone or deliverable on the engineering side, we routinely received fast-food, chips & dip, crudite, banquet fare or, under special circumstances, the group lunch at a nearby restaurant specializing in American or Asian cuisine. The rationale being, I am sure, such food cheaply feeds a hoard of rabid engineers who, despite being paid well, regard groceries as a necessary evil and, therefore, have developed a penchant for wreaking havoc on any free food in their immediate vicinity.

  6. They live more interesting lives. Early indications are this is true (surprise!) Having a manager suggest his team leave work early to catch the Rose Bowl is something you will rarely, if ever, experience on the engineering side. An engineering manager may not necessarily object to such an idea but she is unlikely to suggest it.

OK, that is it for now. Stay tuned as I am sure I will have more to write about given the number of new people and things influencing my thoughts these days.


3 Replies to “My First Month on the Job”

  1. A generalization about engineers that may partially explain observations 4, 5 and 6: engineers tend to be very tightly focused on one thing, namely engineering. For software engineers, that means a focus on the virtual world inside a computer. All that pesky real-world stuff, like physical appearance, nutrition etc is just an annoyance that gets in the way of where all the -real- action is, namely inside their heads and computers.

    There are, of course, exceptions, but they are exactly that, exceptions. [Acquiring a significant other who isn’t in the computer field may also help :-)].

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