A year in retrospect
A year ago today I made the decision to embark on an adventure. I had worked in software development for twelve years and while I very much enjoyed my job I was ready for a change--something different. After quite a bit of thought and some introspection I took the leap and decided to join PacGenesis as a software consultant.
The last year has been a tremendous experience both personally and professionally. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what I've learned about being a software consultant in the last twelve months.
One of my first engagements as a software consultant was an education engagement. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to teach a course about the very product I helped develop--Rational Team Concert. I've always enjoyed sharing knowledge with others as I'm a firm believer that teachers learns by teaching. This opportunity was no exception to that adage. On a higher level, education itself is really at the heart of a career in consulting not only for others, but also for yourself. In the software industry, technologies are constantly evolving; learning is a continual process that is a pivotal facet of consulting.
Being a consultant requires initiative. In a field where work can come and go in an instant, having the ability to see an opportunity, evaluate it and then execute on it is imperative. Over and above taking initiative on individual engagements there is also an important need to take initiative in other areas--investigate that new software you heard about, introduce yourself to the speaker at a session, participate in the technical community--and do it today!
Along the same vein of thought as initiative is independence. Being a consultant can, at times, require fierce independence. You have to know and understand what is expected and have the confidence and fearlessness to take it on even if it that means you take it on solo. While working independently can sometimes be frightening or daunting, it also has moments where it is very rewarding. Personally I've always valued my own independence so seeing how this skill can be used in consulting was great.
As important as independence may be, teamwork is even more important to being successful as a consultant--whether it's within your own company or with a customer. Being a member of a small company I've come to value teamwork greatly--as much fun as I have on solo customer engagements, I still very much enjoy collaborating with my colleagues and learning from their experience as we work together. A good team will play on each others strengths and truly embody the saying, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
The last point I felt like sharing was about growth. More than anything else I feel like the last year as been a great opportunity for me to grow, both personally and professionally. With a new challenge around every corner and new experiences always on the horizon I feel like growth is the keystone of consulting regardless of industry--growth for the consultant, growth for their company and growth for the customer.
I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to work with PacGenesis in the last year and I look forward to what our future might hold.