Looking back at SimpliVity

Here we go once again with another job change post.  Seems to be a rash of these lately.

Four years ago, I decided to embark on a new career adventure. At that time I had been working at a VAR as a presales architect.  I did a lot of things in that job that I truly enjoyed, including helping to architect the infrastructure for a public IaaS cloud for the company that would eventually acquire us.  I worked with a great team of people and a lot of customers who were great to work with.

Also during that time, I spent a fair bit of time blogging, writing for TechTarget, developing video training courses for TrainSignal (later acquired by PluralSight), attending influencer events (which, of course, fed into my blogging), and learning as much about the broader industry as I could.  All these activities were very much supported by my management at the VAR, because almost all of it supported my efforts with them, because they generally deepened my knowledge of our core vendors and allowed me to bring a broad knowledge of the industry to our customers.

It was a lot to give up to focus on a single product at a start-up in a nascent market segment doing the things that I had, up to that point, done on the side. At that point, technical marketing was still a fairly new dedicated discipline in our industry. There was a lot of learning to be done, and I was excited for the challenge.  I’ve always been one to take new jobs that focused on new challenges when I felt the previous job’s challenges had been well tackled.

In the last four years, I’ve accomplished so many things I never would’ve expected. Building an influencer program and finding myself on the other side of the table from influencers and analysts was particularly surreal for me, particularly briefing analysts over the phone, briefing people I consider as friends in those tiny rooms at VMworld, and attending my first Tech Field Day as a sponsor/presenter instead of as a delegate. Getting acquired (my third time in four professional jobs) was a big eye opening experience, as well.

Now, I find myself on the precipice of starting a new adventure, as today is my final day with HPE and the end of my SimpliVity journey.  More on the new journey next week.

The last four years have been entertaining, enlightening, challenging, rewarding, frustrating (a word we were instructed not to use for a while), disappointing, surreal, joyful, educational, depressing, and overall a time I am thoroughly glad I had the opportunity to experience.  My time with SimpliVity was probably the widest range of emotions I’ve ever had in a job. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Eric Lee speak about his struggles with burnout (which was based on this blog post), and I think I may write up my own experience someday. I also have thoughts on Technical Marketing being a dedicated role. But those will have to wait until after I can put some time and reflection between myself and this rollercoaster.

But I knew that joining a market-defining startup was going to be a rollercoaster. One that was being built as we were going down the track. But I am so very grateful to so many people who helped throughout the adventure. While there were many great people I worked with at both SimpliVity and HPE, there are a few key people I’d like to acknowledge (in no particular order, and at the risk of knowing I will forget someone):

  • Lauren Whitehouse, Chuck Wood, and Peter Lauterbach for being mentors to me in many different ways;
  • Melissa Mahoney and Katie Curin-Mestre for being patient teacher-managers;
  • Andrew Haire, Tyler Boucher, and Jenn Susinski for being great “partners in crime” on so many challenging and rewarding projects;
  • Paul Miller for making the acquisition transition as painless and smooth as he could;
  • Stephanie, Janet, and Jodie for making us feel welcome and instantly part of the team at HPE;
  • Jeremiah Dooley and Keith Norbie for a very frank and open conversation about careers while I was making my decision;
  • Hans De Leenheer, Alastair Cooke, Scott Lowe, and Trevor Pott for providing me some excellent external perspective and professional, personal, and program guidance along the way (some of it is guidance I am now giving to others jumping into technical marketing);
  • My social-rockstars troop (you know who you are) for being a safe place to vent, share and test ideas, gain better knowledge of what was going on “on the ground,” and for generally being really good friends;

And mostly Marianne Budnik for taking the big risk of hiring me and looking out for all of us through the acquisition, and Matt Vogt for making the connection in the first place (all based on a simple Twitter message).

But, the biggest props go to my wife for being willing to take the risk with me, putting up with the total presence or total absence of me as we moved into a work-from-home + travel model, and helping me through the emotionally rough patches. Her acceptance and support of my crazy plans means the world to me.

4 Responses so far.

  1. jennifer susinski says:
    You are missed already Partner!
  2. Katie Curtin-Mestre says:
    Great blog post and thanks for the kind words! Can’t wait to hear about what’a next!
  3. Peter Lauterbach says:
    Thanks for your kind words, Brian. It’s always a pleasure working with you; you’ve got the right blend of customer and technical perspective, with the special sauce of a great communicator.
    I’m sure our paths will cross again. Best of luck on your new journey.
  4. Trevor Pott says:
    Bananaphone