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Moving Sideways

Sat, 2016-05-07 00:34
The past two years have seen a lot of change in my life :-
  • I moved to Singapore thinking it would be for a year or two at least and is now looking like it will be longer.
  • I started my first role as a permanent employee of someone else's organisation for the first time in around 22 years. (This was the one that most blew away those who know me well!)
  • I went back to being a Production DBA, having worked on general Oracle performance and development with dev teams over my 5 years of different contracts at UBS.
  • Pretty soon, I was heading up the Level 3 Production DBA team and doing less and less technical work because of the long list of other things I had to take care of. 
  • I only did it out of necessity (it was what the organisation needed at the time) but I started finding myself enjoying those new things more than I expected.
The last point is the main reason that I’ve been blogging less, not presenting so much at conferences and not engaging in any technical conversations outside of work. (However, there were still lots of them with smaller groups in the workplace, believe me! Even the 'blog posts' were replaced by very long internal emails.)

Ultimately that lead to me realising there’s little point me continuing as an Oracle ACE Director because it focuses on community contribution and, apart from helping to set up three sets of Singapore Oracle Sessions, I haven’t really been contributing. I’d already given up the Oak Table membership last year and always intended to give up the ACED too, but just hadn’t got round to it.

Having achieved a *lot* in my last role and working with a great team of people, I realised that the bits of it that I truly enjoyed have changed completely.

It’s true that my favourite work of all might be looking at and resolving Oracle performance issues on Production systems or even just explaining them, but that’s only a percentage of DBA work and particularly a team lead. Over time, I found that plenty of other people on the team could do the technical work (maybe not as well when it came to the performance stuff ;-)) but what it seems I’m really skilled at (and I suspect that this is at least slightly related to age, maturity and experience) is fixing problems with processes and helping people. It feels the same to me – something’s broken that needs to be fixed – but means dealing with people more and dealing with a wider scope of problem. As a DBA you should always be spending most of your time dealing with people as a key part of the job, but *just* dealing with people to the extent that you don't log in to hosts any more is another step on (or, as the post title says, moving sideways).

When I recently had a choice between moving even more into process and people management or moving back to a much more technical and strategic architecture role, I plumped for the one that only those closest to me would have imagined! Which of my peers would deliberately choose to refine change management processes or be on Production incidents in the middle of the night when they could be defining a banks database architecture in a nice cushy day job with lots of conference trips?!

Although the new role will be an extension of the old one, it's still a pretty big step – first time in 26 years or so working in a role which has nothing to do with Oracle! But I’m very excited about it and don’t dread missing Oracle at all. I can always come back to it if this doesn’t work out. I don't think being up to date on what additional parameters there are in 12c has been my forte for a while now!
My new job will be pretty wide-ranging and if I were to explain it completely it would not only be professionally inappropriate but I suspect aspects of it would convince people I've gone mad or am having a mid-life crisis! However, one aspect that actually drew me towards it and would send most of my peers running for the hills is that I will be a Situation Manager (one of a small team) on Major Incidents. In my most recent role, I found myself constantly helping with the incident management parts while the real DBAs did the work – each of us doing what we were best at. Imagine having that in your home at all hours of the day and night and yet Mads reaction was - 'you love doing that, don't you?'. Bless her ;-)

It turns out that I’m pretty OK at cajoling, organising and perhaps speaking slightly loudly at people during high pressure situations. Maybe it's growing up with an RAF Sergeant as a father or maybe, just maybe ...
I like to think of Mr. Wolf as the ultimate Situation Manager.

At least that model works well for me in *my* head ;-)