Starting a new job at a new company, sort of

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Yesterday I was a Lead Platform Engineer at DigIO, but today I am a Principal Consultant at CMD Solutions. So, if I actually had business cards they would show I’ve got a new title and work at a different company. Which is sort of true, but also very much not.

What really is a company?

Before I talk about the how and why I made this move, let’s get this “sort of” business about the companies out of the way. Both DigIO and CMD Solutions are a part of the Mantel Group. Which is a house of brands. Which basically means that there’s a bunch of companies (brands) that have their own area of expertise, but are also all tied together and often cooperate. For example, I have worked with people from different brands, and have even been on projects where I represented CMD even though I was still at DigIO at the time1.

Outside of DigIO and CMD, Mantel Group currently consists of Eliiza, Kasna, Pretzel lab, Azenix, and Cuusoo. And yes, I happily admit that listing these names made me consider the possibility of a “Welcome to the family Mantel Group” song.

Jokes aside though, these are all great brands themselves and worth checking out (every brand is hiring and while we recently celebrated our 500th colleague there’s plenty room for more). And again, every brand is part of the same consultancy, just focused on different areas. The benefit of this is that these brands all have their own name in the market, that isn’t impacted by anything the other brands do. As an example, this means that Kasna can be seen as the clear GCP specialist without it ever feeling that their name is diluted by a bunch of AWS experts as those are all safely ensconced in CMD.

Ok, but why?

In a way, the above answered the question of why I made the switch to CMD. It’s the brand that is focused on AWS, which is what I tend to work with most of the time both during and outside of work. I’m also an AWS ambassador, and it’s been a bit weird from that perspective that I didn’t actually work for the AWS brand within Mantel Group.

Hold on, you might say, why didn’t you join CMD in the first place then? Well, for that we get a flashback scene to almost three years ago when I first joined DigIO in March 20192. At the time CMD already existed, but wasn’t part yet of Mantel Group. I knew the company through the ambassador/cloud warrior program, but it was mostly Sydney based so aside from having the occasional beer discussion with Adam Durbin I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Adam and I in Seattle in August 2019

But back to me joining DigIO. In a way I was brought in as an AWS expert, so imagine my surprise when I opened my emails on that first day and found a company wide email that the acquisition of CMD was set to finalise later in the month. This obviously made me very angry and caused me to quit in rage because my super special status wasn’t super special anymore. Or maybe that didn’t happen and I just enjoyed having more people around who are interested in the same thing I am. I give it about fifty-fifty on which one is the real timeline.

Move forward a little bit in that week (or maybe the next week) and I had a chat with DigIO’s CEO Patrick Eckel about this and he asked me if I wanted to make the switch to CMD instead. Yes, after they went through the trouble to recruit me and already had my first client lined up for me, I was literally asked if I’d prefer to go to a different company during my first week and they’d fully support that decision. I mean, seriously, who does that? That attitude of putting the people first was what attracted me to DigIO in the first place and made me want to stay then as well.

Ok, enough exposition, tell me why?

So, what changed that made me go to CMD? A whole bunch of things really. Let’s start with the two major events that impacted my life during this period. The first was the pandemic, which we’re all familiar with so I’m not going to waste my time writing about it. The other is also something I’ve mentioned here and that’s the birth of my daughter. As I’ve mentioned before, these two things combined into making me less active on this very blog, and have impacted how I structure my life.

Which basically came to a head when this Christmas break I had my first long holiday for the first time in forever3. Yes, technically I had that same break a year earlier but as my daughter was born in early January I’m sure you realise what I was focused on during that time. So, this year I took some time to think about what I wanted to do with work. And what came out of that were some obvious things and some that weren’t as much:

  1. I want to fully focus on AWS for my work.
  2. I want to have more time during work to keep up to date on all things AWS.
  3. I want to spend more time educating/helping people.
  4. I want to spend less time on the tools and more on design.
  5. I want to try something new.

Before this comes up, a big item not present in the list is the a healthy work-life balance, which immediately ruled out things like working for AWS. Some other details are left out above (spoiler, you’ll definitely hear about the something new if and when it happens), but that was generally the list I took to Pat when I asked him for a meeting to discuss my future. At the time I had a feeling that might mean that long-delayed switch to CMD.

But then in the week before that meeting, Bryan Becker from CMD reached out because his Cloud Excellence practice had an opening for a principal role and he wondered if I was interested. Turns out, that role almost seemed tailor made to fit that list I wrote about above.

Let’s be clear here, despite that feeling I mentioned, until that point my first inclination was still to see what I could achieve within DigIO. As regardless of everything that happened in the world, I’ve been very happy that I was working at DigIO and even had the pleasure to work with the favourite client of my consultancy career during this time. And yes, if you read this and worked with me during these years you were obviously that client.

Considering the outcome of the resulting meetings was mentioned in the first sentence of this post, I’m not going to bore you with a summary of them. Adam and Bryan were very welcoming and open about what it means to join them, and Pat was far too nice again in how supportive he was about me moving to CMD and how that is a success story of the house of brands strategy.

And that’s how I got a new title and sort of, but not really, joined a new company. As several colleagues have been kind to point out, the important part isn’t that I’m moving to CMD it’s that I’m still their colleague.

  1. Considering by the time this goes up I’ve been at CMD for less than 24 hours, that’s a bit of a “well duh”. ↩︎

  2. I think that my feeling that most of the time since was spent in lockdown is wrong, but I don’t want to actually count the days. ↩︎

  3. If you don’t get all the musical references in here, you probably don’t play Disney music all the time for your baby and have them stuck in your head. ↩︎

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