Sometimes, the way forward is to go back.
One of my favorite lines from a song is Damon Albarn from the British rock band Blur on the Deltron 3030 track 'State of the Nation' where he states:
...we find ourselves reflecting. Finding out that, in fact, we came back. We were always coming back.
The smoothness and reflection of his voice have always made me consider how critical looking back truly is. It's human nature to reflect (and regret within the same thought), but there are moments when reflection leads to new beginnings.
MY GREAT RESIGNATION
During the pandemic, many of us have had the opportunity to be down to the cores of our characters in different ways. I doubt one could overstate the mental strain of being isolated, losing a job, or worse, losing a loved one, whilst surviving.
This situation forced us to rethink everything.
For me, like for others, this reflection had a focus on my career. Internally, my sense of what I like versus what my role was were in constant conflict. I loved to to evangelize and present; I loved to push the envelope around how a product or a company was perceived or presented; I loved to bounce around different teams internally and help them gain a different perspective on their challenges...
But yet, these were constantly byproducts of my 'day job'; hobbies, even. I had no compelling reason to think I could make a role out of this while aligning my technical abilities and background. Besides, I was valued and progressing as a business developer (albeit slowly).
Then Covid hit.
Internally, I never slow down. I'm constantly looking for a project or needing a purpose to progress. Professionally, I took full advantage during downtime and rolled it into video blogs, webinars, and a more concerted effort with front-line teams. But that wasn't my job.
As the pandemic turned into months, then years, those initial efforts wained. I realized that an 'open space' for my activities to run free wasn't good for my personality. I need structure or boundaries that would help validate when I went too far or not far enough. Without guard rails inside an isolation chamber (i.e. my home), I never knew if what I was doing had merit or was needed.
I pulled back, hard, and focused on my core role.
I pushed off those extracurricular activities and centered myself on being laser-focused on what needed to be done within my job. It was hard, almost impossible. I struggled to find meaning in my work without a well-rounded approach that included my intangibles.
Collectively this all culminated in May 2020 when, after a transparent conversation with a friend-of-a-friend, I decided I needed a change.
I reached out internally and started to create a role for myself around technical marketing and was encouraged by the CMO to do so. I was so stoked! Finally, the path towards a new beginning was clear. It breathed new life into my current role as well where this facet of ownership reignited old efforts.
But situations change.
Weeks turned into months as I tried to carve into this idea harder. Blog posts, whiteboarding activities, digging up old diagrams, creating new content; it all started to fade as the direction of things often do. That path that was so bright became cluttered and arduous. Looking back, there wasn't any single thing that finally made the decision to look elsewhere, but a combination of timing, decisions, and vision.
And that's ok, I told myself. This doesn't change YOUR desire.
And it didn't.
A FAMILIAR FACE
Once I saw the post on LinkedIn from an old colleague at Nutanix asking for someone with Product Marketing experience around security and networking, it felt right and checked a LOT of my boxes:
- Go-to-Market focus
- Security/cloud technologies
- Greenfield (new role at Nutanix)
- The ability to evangelize, get in front of sales teams, and enable
- Lead with idea creation and collaboration
- Validate using my technical background
A bit about me, I don't like feeling as if I am handed something. I don't like advantages. I like to succeed because of what I've done; of who I am. Is this naive? Yes, especially in a business world where connections become opportunities. But truth be told, the hiring manager was someone I highly respected and knew as a great leader. I didn't feel I needed to pull any strings.
And that's an interesting proof point for me.
To sum up, how I feel, I'll quote the great Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters:
For whatever reasons, Ray, call it... fate, call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason.
And now, I'm happy to announce I am rejoining Nutanix as a Senior Marketing Manager helping drive the message around Security and Networking.
GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE
Nutanix, for me, represents the future of technology. The pandemic has already proven Nutanix's model to build a hybrid multi-cloud. A hybrid approach towards a business' technology ecosystem is the future. Much like how hybrid work (part-time in the office, part-time away) is becoming the future of work itself.
The security side of Nutanix's business is as relevant as ever intertwined with robust networking solutions. The ability to segment, direct, protect, shape, and deliver applications and data to users on a platform that can link your on-premise and public clouds is a holy grail. Telling this story makes me giddy.
In the years I've been away, Nutanix has also seen its share of challenges and changes. I am also certain rainbows and unicorns with lush green grass are NOT awaiting me. But that's ok. In fact, that's amazing. It becomes an opportunity. Being part of a growth strategy requires pioneering efforts and new ideas.
Think of it like this:
This role is like being a pioneer. You enter a homestead of undeveloped land. There is no running water, no grocery stores, no infrastrucvture. You must build these yourself. But you have a river close by, fertle land, and it's March (Any Oregon Trail/Stardew Valley fans here?). Make it happen.
While not a perfect example, I think you get the idea. My previous time at Nutanix was largely focused on pushing the security narrative organically. My experience at a large telecom prepared me for the networking dynamic in a world saturated by legacy thinking.
It's SUPER exciting.
Remember this scene from the end of Back to the Future? (spoiler alert gen Z):
Going back to Nutanix this feels very relevant to me. While things have changed my role and my impact will be different. I feel the same as Marty did when Doc confidently says:
Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...
PS: Special thanks to Steve Carter at Nutanix