It’s June 15th in the USA, and I’m observing the anniversary that nobody but me (and perhaps a caring HR department) should be aware of. Seventeen years ago, after taking six months off to enjoy the arrival of my daughter, I re-joined the work force and began my new career as an IT consultant. So much has happened over these years–it’s really been a wild ride that gave me the opportunity to travel the globe and try to give my family the best quality of life possible. After all these years, I really feel like I accomplished that goal.
I can’t take credit for being self-motivated on this. Walking away from a 15-year career at IBM seemed like insanity at the time. IBM had successfully “programmed” me to think that there was no way I’d find a better job than the one they were willing to offer. The uncertainty of where I would be going and what I would be doing was maddening. Full credit goes to my wonderful wife Susan and her supportive father, Bill Parrish. They encouraged me to think outside the box and try to manage the panic I was feeling about not having a definite path forward. There’s a different mindset for people who take risks versus those that stay on the safe path. And there were risks! When I started, if the client didn’t pay TPI’s invoices, I didn’t get paid by TPI. That was 180 degrees opposite from the security of the regular IBM paycheck. Back in 2003, when our hospital client in NYC refused to pay for several months we had to borrow money from family just to pay our bills. And this new job involved a lot more time away from home and family. But we got through it all and are still plugging along today!
Along with the risks came the rewards. Financially, I matched my IBM salary in 2000 after working only 5.5 months. The next year, I tripled my IBM salary and never looked back. Those were interesting years, working for the small LLC company with the family atmosphere and the willingness to spend big bucks to fly their employees and families to wonderful global conferences to provide the latest company news, do training, and share stories and ideas about how to be better consultants. I miss that small-group feeling and intimacy that came with it.
The years with ISG after the acquisition and becoming a public company have been very different, obviously. But really, I’ve continued to do much of the same kinds of things that I did originally with TPI. Nice to know that certain basic skills in creating and managing contracts haven’t been completely replaced in these modern times. The salary dipped a bit when ISG took over, but by then I had started to realize that it wasn’t about the size of the paycheck but the quality of life you enjoy along the way. I’m surprised how long it took me to understand that–I was always the hard-driving capitalist that felt a maximized salary was the true key to happiness. Taking the family to Australia was a strategic move based not on money or job opportunity, but instead to embark on a cultural adventure that would broaden my daughter’s perspectives and offer Susan and me an adventure in an English-friendly culture. Just look at how well that has worked in the past 5.5 years!
So Happy 17th Anniversary to me. I am grateful for the opportunity that ISG gave me to apply my Pennsylvania-bred work ethic (thanks, Dad!) in Australia. It continues to this day, and it seems that just being true to who you are sometimes works out fine in other countries and cultures!