The 11th of December 2020 was my last day at Barhead. Out of all the companies I have had the opportunity to work for, it is where I have stayed the longest (so far, at least). As such, I thought it would be great to do a quick rundown of the lowlights and highlights of my time here.
I started off on the wrong foot. I flunked the onboarding exercise which was my first foray into the technology that I will be working on throughout my entire time here (and perhaps beyond?). I attribute it to a number of factors but I’d say that the environment I was in during the presentation did not help. It was I felt hostile, which truly caught me off guard. Being in such an atmosphere and dealing with it in real time is something I am not cut out for. It brought back memories about an experience in college where an interview went off the rails because my expectation of it was greatly different from the panel. I thought it would be the typical Q and A and would be cordial customarily, but I was mistaken.
As part of the annual performance review, as expected, I did not get glowing commentary. I remember being told I was meek and was not proactive enough. Moreover, I was hammered for saying I forgot to do something related to some exercise I was asked to do. I remember it was about pre-sales work in which I have to go through a potential client’s requirements and see what solution we can offer. At that point, I don’t have a good knowledge about the technology that we’re selling let alone have spent a great deal of time immersing myself with it. I vividly recall sitting on the couch in a slumped way, furiously researching about what the system can do to satisfy requirements I don’t have the opportunity to talk to the client to gain more context about. It was a nightmare. If you have to add to that the weight of expectations that comes with the senior level by the managers, it is a real recipe for a disaster — and it was.
It is mortifying to mention that I got downgraded. I wasn’t entirely bothered by it though, as that did not result to a pay cut. I stuck it out. I must be wise enough to see the beauty in such an unpleasant experience, which is that we learn the most from it. Am I a glass half-full than a glass half-empty person therefore? I wish I could always consistently say yes. 🙂
In sum, my first year experience was disastrous and so it was about trying to find my feet.
I was assigned to work for hammerjack — a company that the owners of Barhead have some financial stake too. If I could guess, it lasted for half a year. On my first day, right before heading to my new seat, I remember being at McDonald’s for breakfast, my mind occupied about what is in store for me. Will I get along with the new people I will be around? I worry more about the people than perhaps the work itself because I am not a gregarious person.
As it turned out, it was a fun assignment. I loved my time here. We would eat lunch together. I’d like to think that I’ve become friends with them. It was also during this period where I started to feel at ease with the work that I do. It was also when I seemed to have regained the confidence which took a real hit on my first year.
Walking down the busy streets after a day’s work is something I always looked forward to. Besides the satisfaction I feel over the fact that the day is over, I like this time because my mind could just roam freely, oblivious to the bustle around. The goal of being good with this job was hatched in a number of these instances.
After the stint at hammerjack, which lasted long enough that it felt I’m more of a hammerjack employee than Barhead, I reunited with the latter for a novel project. They assembled a team whose task is to build or enhance demonstration assets that the Microsoft sales professionals can use to win deals, of course. It is a noteworthy engagement because Barhead has now managed to get one of its feet in Microsoft’s door that could very well be a launch pad to a long-lasting relationship between the two companies.
I don’t recall being overly stressed out with that assignment. It felt light. Maybe it’s because of the extra activities that we did. What stuck out is the one where somebody is penalized some amount whenever the person spoke his/her favorite expression. We use the money collected to purchase snacks (potato corner fries usually!). It’s true that work never feels like work when you have a fun team around.
After 6 months, I jetted off to a foreign land. I stayed in Canberra for nearly half a year (and visited a few other cities while there). As in the demo service team I was a part of, the project did not ever feel like a burden that I want to get rid of as quickly as possible. If there was one thing that I can take away from this, it is that it lit up in me the desire to gain new skills. I was content with what I know but it became apparent to me that there were so much more exciting and challenging things that I could do. I started understanding and practicing writing code on C#. Back in college, we were required to undertake one course on programming in C language, which I enjoyed, never mind if I excelled at it (which I don’t believe I did). So I made time to read, practice, and fail (on repeat). The exciting part in the entire process is discovering a solution to a thing that has stumped me for days or weeks even. 😀
(Side note: I have not touched much about writing code for customisation in months nor have I put time into learning new things in general in the same amount that I did months back. It must be burn out. And Microsoft anyway is going in the direction of empowering business users into building applications that serve their own specific needs, so that should be ok.)
All in all, year 3 was great.
It was just a mishmash of work assignments — from Project Service Automation to preparing for a project that ultimately fell through to doing support work for the demo services team to doing actual BA work and finally presales. I worked the longest doing the latter — assessing a potential solution to requirements, joining calls through the sales cycle, determining effort estimates, and so on.
Being involved in pre-sales was least fun. I kept thinking why that is. Maybe because it is something that requires thinking on your feet — in real-time, answering questions in a way will absolutely make you credible to the client. Maybe because a single statement that you write or utter could spell the difference between losing or winning. Maybe because I clearly indicated I was not interested in such a role when an internal survey came out which I suppose was to scout who would be willing to take on such work, but was put there anyway (like I have a choice, don’t I?). Maybe it’s the one time I was told off the reason for which I could not remember now. Maybe it’s the (misguided) idea that I have to be ready to have an answer to everything, like there is no room for mistakes.
While there are lowlights, there are highlights too. It’s great that during this year, I got involved in two projects that I truly enjoyed. When that happens, everything just seems to fall into place. It went the way it did also because of the awesome colleagues whom I worked alongside with. It’s true that when we get to work in a pleasant environment, it brings out the best in us and so I was asking myself at the end why we couldn’t operate that way all the time.
When I moved here in 2016, I my goal was to expand my skillset. I think I achieved that. That matters, among other things.