What is your career motto? - Career

At the beginning of 2021, I took the chance to go over all phases of my career to reflect on my current career progress. And one of the things I realized is that my career motto has been changed several times during my career.

But first, what's exactly a career motto? And why do you need one?

What and why do you need a career motto?

I believe that each career phase should have a "focus". In other words, how do you describe that phase?

There are many factors affecting each career phase. The actual role (e.g., is it the typical career path or a career shift) Career level (e.g., junior, medior, senior), company business and domain, etc.

A career motto reflects your goals for a specific time and helps the ultimate goals, or as I like to call them, "general goal". For example, what's your most important goal? Money? Peace of mind? Working on an exciting product?

General goals and interim goals

There are many general goals; for me, one of the most important goals was mobility! Mobility in terms of career is the ability to move from my current company anytime!

I don't like vendor lock-in in all its means! I don't want to work in a place I don't like for whatever reason. I want to have control of when to stay and when to leave.

However, mobility doesn't mean short jumps between companies; I believe that less than a year harms more than helps!

In fact, as you see, mobility is a means to an end, not an end in itself! It servers other goals like ability to work in a good work environment, working on exciting products, and of course a good payment.

Even that sounds easy, but not actually, you need to find the sweet spot to balance between self-development to be desired in the market while at the same time having a work-life balance and enjoying your life.

My mottos over the years

So over the years, my career motto has been changed as I evolve in my career.

0 to 3 years: A man of getting things done

My main focus of the first 3 of my career was getting things done i.e., delivery!

As any junior Linux sysadmin, I didn't have much experience, so my main goal was to break into the market. My strategy was simple. I will learn as much I can. I've accepted challenges I had no idea about them (that's already communicated with my managers).

Suppose I don't know about specific topics. In that case, I start reading about it for days and weeks, asking my senior friends, and doing everything to handle the new tasks. Also, at home, I tried to mock the challenge I had at the day and enhance it to get better results.

For that reason, I gained a lot of experience in scripting and automation, which helped me deliver more in less time. Actually, in about 3 years, there were so few escalated tasks that I can count them on my fingers :-)

By the end of my 2nd year, I found that I need to find my next challenge. So I deiced to move to the DevOps field.

4 to 7 years: I automate things (pragmatically)

So after almost 3 years in the market, now I have some experience that allows me to move between companies as a junior Linux sysadmin. I have solid knowledge in Linux systems and also doing good in the automaton.

And when you combine that with the knowledge share that I used to do as part of working of the open-source community ... it looked promising as a DevOps Engineer!

I actually like it, so I started working in a software development house then in a startup on infrastructure and what's called developer enablement (I didn't know the exact name at that time).

Automation helped me a lot to save time and handle big workloads. e.g., 2 DevOps engineers were able to manage more than 400 machines (virtual and bare metal servers)!

However, over time I realized that automation is also a means to an end, not an end in itself! Or according to one of my favorite quotes from Site Reliability Engineering book by Google:

Automation is a force multiplier, not a panacea

In fact, not only my outlook on automation and pure tech has been changed, but also about many other non-tech things like time and project management, team dynamics, and of course, how to utilize the tech to help the business needs.

Hence it comes the pragmatic part where I understood the other non-tech aspects of software engineering.

8 years to present: I build sustainable solutions

In the last 2 years, I got a broader view and more into T-shaped skills; thus, sustainability comes. Sustainability has more than tech aspects, and it's a combination of tech, business, human, and even more.

Also, sustainable solutions don't mean it will live forever, but it's the other way around; it's easy to develop, to use, and to change!

At the moment I'm using all my tech and non-tech skills to help businesses and people to grow! So this is my main focus currently were I'd like to polish my skills more.

That was a quick look at career mottos and how they reflect on a career in general. I highly recommend thinking about one; I believe it will help you a lot :-)

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Hello, my name is Ahmed AbouZaid, I'm a passionate Tech Lead DevOps Engineer. 👋

With 16+ years of open-source contributions, 12+ years of professional hands-on experience in DevOps, and an M.Sc. in Data Engineering from Edinburgh Napier University (UK), I enjoy facilitating the growth of both businesses and individuals.

I specialize in Cloud-Native and Kubernetes. I'm also a Free/Open source geek and book author. My favorite topics are DevOps transformation, automation, data, and metrics.

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