This is a highly personal post so for those whose eyes roll or minds reel at the thought, click past this one and I promise more juicy tech stuff next.
As regular readers know, I lost a great job with an awesome company in January of 2009. As of this past Monday I started a challenging new role with what seems like another awesome company so far. In between, I worked at something that didn’t work out while keeping an eye on Nokia opportunities the whole time.
Now, maybe I need to qualify that last statement. It’s not like I’m ever going to “phone in” performance at any employer. I worked hard at my previous position. But I could have made much, much more of the role had I been so empowered… and it was extremely difficult going from the can-do culture at Finland’s single largest employer to an organization that could have used a best-practice infusion at the very least.
I’ve related here and there some lessons learned before and after my Nokia job loss and I will repeat them here for the interested readers’ sake. Not just to bemoan my own mistakes, but perhaps help others from making the same ones.
But first I want to share some things with Nokia.
You really were an awesome employer. There’s no such thing as absolutely perfect, but you were close enough for me. You provided me opportunities I never could have previously imagined. Thanks to you I’ve been to Finland, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, England and Mexico (not to mention states here in the US). I was already open to cultures other than my own but you cracked my mind wider.
The projects I was given, and others I was able to initiate thanks to your empowerment, had me eagerly racing into work on Mondays when others dreaded the drive. It’s an almost indescribable feeling. Like I was being paid to play.
When you closed the Alliance factory I was almost in tears. Many colleagues did indeed cry. We were a family. A tight, talented family that kicked ass if I might say. I still believe there was value in what we did for the US market. I still believe we had the skills and strengths to turn around your prospects here. I just hope you’re truly serious about pulling that off.
You emphasized Connecting People at every level, every entry and exit point. I wasn’t good at that at first. You helped. In three years I went from a stuttering introvert to a much more confident trainer, presenter and business explorer. You demanded it. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone.
I didn’t get it as well as I should have. Sure, I networked globally with 400 to 500 people on a regular basis, but I neglected key parties on my home turf. So when you (mistakenly) decided my critical role was superfluous, I discovered the hard way that I had not made managers at the fringe of my circle aware of who I really was and what I could do for them. You were good enough to give me two months to find another internal opportunity, and they did exist, but the hiring managers declined to interview me because of my former failure to fully network. Ouch. Lesson learned… painfully.
But it wasn’t all me. In the past three years I’ve noticed you doing some odd, even counterproductive things with regards to hiring. I’m mystified by why you deleted the “Global/Location Negotiable” job classification out of your Taleo career system. Many of your employees can and do operate virtually. So how do you classify them now? And why did you remove that for new prospects? I don’t get it; virtual is the trend!
Then there was the extremely frustrating experience of applying for jobs that were available. On one I was told I was overqualified and would not be considered. I replied that the economy here had dropped just about everyone down a job grade so that was not an issue. Still no go. The job was closed without being filled, then re-opened weeks later, same exact description. I applied again, and this time was told I was underqualified.
There were so many other chances at roles I could fulfill. But no interviews. I still don’t know why.
I came so close to rejoining you a month ago, though– I was even told to expect an interview! But you dashed those hopes by deleting the opening… along with, I now hear, the jobs of more friends and colleagues. That’s hard news to swallow, and I can only hope your master plan is on track. Of course I also hope that every released employee finds another good opportunity as soon as possible.
But hey, I’m not writing just to lament lost opportunities. I’m throwing myself into what I’m doing now. An even though I failed to rejoin you, I’ve stayed close. In 2009 after a brief hiatus I shifted my focus in the Maemo community from technical liaison to outreach. Being elected to the community council is what got me to Amsterdam. Helping the MeeGo community later got me a trip to Dublin. More recently, participation in your Nokia Developer Champion program helped land me in England for Nokia World 2011. Friends and family don’t quite get why you do these things without hiring me back, and I have been trying to explain the perks of volunteerism in response. Personally I feel well-rewarded! I strongly urge everyone, especially young people, to volunteer in activities that interest them. One never knows where that might lead.
I had hoped to eventually leverage that volunteer work into a related role within your walls, but it looks like you’re not ready for that yet– at least, not in my neck of the woods. Everything these days seems to revolve around Beijing and Sunnyvale. The Irving office is about to lose more employees and I don’t know for sure your plans for its future.
But I did just have my Champion status renewed for another year, so I’m looking forward to our continued relationship. I will proudly carry (and show off!) my gorgeous N9 and when my Lumia 800 arrives, I’ll try to give it equal time. I’m even hoping to develop for both (currently struggling with Qt). I want you to succeed, for a variety of reasons, and I will continue to do my small part in that… paid, unpaid or what have you. So ping me when you need me!
I still believe in you. You truly were an awesome employer. It’s just a shame I could not put “Nokia” back on my resumé.
But life goes on.