Here’s what I couldn’t publicize earlier this week. On February 6, my birthday, something is happening to make me remember this one in particular. I signed an offer letter for a new job. Actually, I signed it a few days ago, but post-dated it for this day. I wanted to have something to significantly make this birthday memorable in a good way. I told my current boss on (today) Thursday. It was a difficult thing to do. My career trajectory has usually been one of trying to escape a shitty situation. My job search mode has usually been precipitated by vocational misery or termination/downsizing (a human resources euphemism for “you’re fucked” or “we don’t like fags, but you could sue us for that”). I’m not accustomed to leaving a situation that I like.
I really like my (soon to be ex) boss and job. I was not in a job search mode. When I came to my current job about two and half years ago, I thought I was making my final employer move. I even went as far as to say, “I’m going to either die or retire here.” I expected the former, as I don’t think I’ll ever see retirement. But, shit happens, and in this instance, I’m not saying this in a pejorative nor sarcastic manner. Never say never.
A professional colleague, whom I know from our professional associations/organizations was talking with me last fall after a conference we were both in attendance in Baltimore. He’s also in Chicago. He began telling me of a position in his company that was open and he was looking to fill. At the time I said, nothing.
A month went by with me continuously thinking about this. I finally called him. I needed to speak to him on another issue with the board we are both on. And, in this conversation, I asked, “Have you filled the position yet? Let’s talk about it—informally.” I’m the type of person who never (or rarely) shuts a door when it’s been cracked open. I want to at least peak inside. So, we talked informally. I told him I wasn’t “actively looking” to make a move. The informal conversation led to a round of formal interviews with some of the senior management team. Then, to a second round with the rest of senior management team, of which I will be a part. With each round, I was more impressed with the company, the work they’re doing, and the people. This is an organization with a strong core of leaders who lead, listen and communicate. The level and manner of communication is impressive—and certainly not my usual experience in corporate America. Some of the management team, and the EVP were at the same conference I was at in San Francisco last week. When my plane landed at SFO, I turned on my phone, and there was a text message from my colleague that said, “Can you meet with me and EVP tomorrow night in the hotel lobby at 6:45?” Now, I can be very obtuse at times, but I figured, they wouldn’t be double teaming me to say, “we’re going with someone else.”
I was correct. They handed me an offer letter. I took it to my room, the next day we talked, negotiated some details, a new letter was issued, and I signed and dated it for a week later.
The machinations and bureaucracy of academia (and state government on top of that) move slowly. That has been one of my frustrations in the current situation. The new place will allow me to do some of the cutting edge and innovative projects and work that I thought would be more accessible in academia. Red tape is a great prophylactic to progress.
In addition to telling my boss, the other difficult one to tell was employee. I’ve watched him grow in his skills and abilities, and I like to think I played some role in facilitating and mentoring that. I know he did not get that from my predecessor. I also went to tell the chairman of my CME Committee. I wanted to tell him face to face before I made an announcement on our Committee Conference call today. He’s a man not always known for his tact and grace. But he said some very gracious and kind things to me. Everyone did. In the midst of their disappointment about my news for the organization, they were genuinely happy for the opportunity this means for me. This makes it all the more bittersweet.
As always, my major life events necessitate an excerpt from a Stephen Sondheim musical. For this, I choose, “Something’s Coming”, from West Side Story (his first broadway show-for which he was lyracist:
… Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy, Meet a guy, Pull up a chair! The air is humming, And something great is coming! Who knows? It's only just out of reach, Down the block, on a beach, Maybe tonight . . .
Only, no longer out of reach—I just have to work on the ‘meet a guy’ part.