Reflections on a Career with VMware

2018 is a special year for me. It marks the 4-year anniversary of my career with VMware – the best company I’ve ever worked for, and arguably one of the best in the world. I was so pleased to come into my office a few weeks ago and find my beautiful 4-year VASA cubes waiting for me – as both someone who bleeds VMware green and blue and as a total contemporary art nerd, I’d really been looking forward to these.

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And as I enter my 5th year with this incredible, visionary organization and look back on my time here, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been honored with yet another new opportunity.

As of Monday, March 26th 2018, I will take on the new title of Product Line Manager for Cloud Automation – focusing on our Blueprinting and Infrastructure-as-Code strategies, among other things. This is an amazing opportunity to influence the strategy – and ultimately the deliverables themselves – for a solution that I’ve loved selling, then helping to actually engineer and design during my tenure.

But how did I get here? Not to bore you with my life’s story, but I think it’s a real testament to the incredible culture at VMware to tell the story, and I hope it will be both interesting and motivating.

My journey with VMware actually started in 1998, when I used their first-ever product to run a Slackware Linux VM in order to keep me safe(r) on IRC. I was tired of swapping hard drives every time I wanted to go online, and the IRC of 1998 was absolutely no place for a Windows user. My future was pretty much cemented at that point – there was no turning back. VMs were the future, and I wanted a piece of it. Over the following 15 years, I earned two degrees and several titles throughout the IT industry designing, implementing and managing VMware solutions all over the country.

In late 2013 – I got an unexpected ping from a recruiter. They’d seen my profile online, and wanted to talk. This would end up being the most important email I’d ever received, and a few weeks later I was going through the most intense multi-phasic interview process I had ever experienced. After an admittedly weird late-night meeting in a hotel lobby with the man who would be my first manager at VMware, the job was mine – a Senior Cloud Management Specialist for their Public Sector customers. My focus: something which was  at the time called vCloud Automation Center, a product I’d never even heard of before.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I taught myself how to deploy, use, troubleshoot, and most importantly, sell this amazing piece of software. Because of my background automating manual processes and transforming businesses, I enjoyed great success in this role. The stories I could tell mirrored the problems my customers were having, and it was one of the greatest joys in my professional life to be able to say that I had such a complete solution for them, and to help them realize the potential therein.

I got involved with the Hands-On Labs (have you taken a lab today? Check them out for free at http://labs.hol.vmware.com/ if not!) and through this program, made the invaluable connections to product management, engineering and marketing that I would eventually use as a springboard to become part of the product team itself.

In 2016, I joined the Cloud Management Business Unit’s engineering team as a Product Owner, which was a short lived title that eventually transitioned to Staff Functional Architect – a role responsible for looking at customer problems and ensuring that the product was accounting for real-world customer problems, in a clear and effective way. As the team evolved and grew, I was eventually made part of the Customer Success Engineering team, who focused on ensuring that VMware’s top, most strategic customers realized the true potential of their purchases and used them to the fullest. This was an incredibly gratifying role, combining many of the thing I loved most: working closely with our customers and learning new and interesting ways to apply our solutions.

But there was one thing lacking: I missed being part of the process. I really felt that I had something to contribute to our future direction, I wanted to get more involved with setting goals for the team, analyzing the market we’re part of, and defining our direction based on the trends and conditions in that market. That’s why this latest role is so exciting for me – I get to do all of that, and so much more. I’ll join a much smaller group of individuals who are all focused on ensuring that VMware continues to be a leader in Cloud Automation for years to come – and I couldn’t be more excited about the potential there.

I owe so much to so many people for helping me on this journey.

  • My original Specialist team, for taking a chance on someone who’d never sold anything in his life.
  • My customers, for buying stuff from someone who’d never sold anything in his life.
  • My very dear friends Kim Delgado, Jad El-Zein and Grant Orchard, who helped mentor me, teach me, and introduce me to the network of people who would make this possible.
  • The entire Hands-On Labs staff for giving me the opportunity to become comfortable and confident with a totally new piece of software.
  • The leadership of the Cloud Management Business Unit, where I’ve had the pleasure of working under 3 out of 5 of our VPs, for growing me into a whole new type of role.
  • And finally, the Cloud Automation PM team, for taking a chance on me. I hope I’ll prove worthy of the trust you’re placing in me.

And now, as a tribute to Grant (who brought me the bottle all the way from Oz,) I raise a glass to you all. Here’s to the next 30 years at VMware. May they be as full of adventure as the last 4.

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