Tomorrow will be the first day in my entire adult life where I am neither enrolled in school nor have full-time employment. To be fair, this isn’t a surprise and is actually something I had been working on with the management team at Idex Corp for a few months now. For many reasons, it was the right time for me to leave, and I have been nothing but impressed with the respect the executive team has given me as I worked through the process. As I spent the last few days wrapping up loose ends, I have had time to reflect on a few things that I thought I would share.
When is it Time to Go?
When the previous company I was at, Precision Photonics (PPC), was acquired in 2012, I really didn’t think I would stick around after the deal was completed. We had an excellent track record under my tenure as General Manager, and with a successful sale there were plenty of opportunities presented for me to go somewhere else and try to make ‘lightning strike in the same place twice’. At the same time, there were immense challenges both structurally and culturally when it came to integrating an engineering focused company like PPC into a more financially driven organization. In the end, my biggest reason for staying was to ensure that the team that helped make me be successful were on their own path to success. What we tackled to get from there to here could fill a book, but to put it simply I now have a much greater respect for organizational culture and how positive a tool it can be when you understand it (or destructive when you don’t). This past year, we completed the physical integration of two manufacturing sites, as well as built a more robust commercial and operations infrastructure. Many of my key team at PPC are now in leadership roles within the new organization and poised to make the decisions to move it forward again. With the team fully integrated and showing great health, it was finally time for me to move on and pursue those opportunities I put on hold.
What Took me so Long?
I would have never guessed I would stay at one organization for 13 years – I am impatient and ambitious. Much of the credit here has to go to the previous ownership of PPC, who being of similar mind, were happy to give anyone that asked enough rope to hang themselves. That often meant I was put in roles before I perhaps deserved them and had the opportunity to gain a vast deal of experience very quickly. This accelerated a career that would have typically required several job changes to move forward at the same pace. Most importantly, it provided an element of loyalty in an otherwise very competitive and entrepreneurial culture. This is something I always try to replicate in any team I manage.
Giving and Getting Back
I was doing a pretty good job keeping it together saying my goodbyes this week, until one of the technicians that I have worked with for many years gave me a thank you card. She had experienced a few difficult periods in her life while we worked together, and wanted to thank me for helping her through them. I hadn’t thought much about it at the time, but to realize I had genuinely touched her life in a positive way was pretty moving. I can’t say I am particularly brilliant at this other than tending to offer a lot of respect to all levels of the organization, and having high expectations in return. This means high performing individuals tend to flourish and others tend to not last that long.
I’ve also realized that some of my most rewarding experiences post-acquisition were actually mentoring some of the younger engineers and managers on how to negotiate all of the change. While I am still young and have plenty to learn myself, I do look forward to continuing to teach and mentor whenever possible. This is one of the reasons I enjoy running our cycling program so much.
To be honest, I don’t have immediate plans. I intend to continue to focus on our cycling program, and already have a few consulting projects lined up that I am excited about. However, a big reason for this change was to allow myself the appropriate time and capacity to decide on the next big project I want to tackle.
In my short career to date; I’ve earned the opportunity to take on huge challenges and learn from them.
I can’t wait to see what’s next!