I left a great job at a solid company. There are no reveals or sudden events that led to this. No bad bosses, toxic work environments or unsolvable problems. In fact it was the opposite; everything was going well, I had a clear career path and felt like I was delivering the goods. I just needed something new that I haven't experienced before. I wanted to take a risk, invest in myself and share what I've done over the years both to help myself and others. I'm sharing some of my highlights below, there won't be a lot of numbers and typical business jargon, you can get that from my resume.
This is where it all started . You can't fathom the immense presence of these drill ships unless you set foot on one. They float on seawater thousands of feet deep and stay in place with a crazy system of satellite positioning and turbines. They were home for almost a year off the Brazilian shoreline. I also spent a few years on the land-bearing version in the Kuwaiti desert, not as exciting but at least you can easily leave them if you wanted do, unlike the offshore version which required a helicopter or a boat, if you're willing to stomach the long and sea sickness inducing trip.
My path onto those rigs wasn't straightforward, I began my career designing hardware and writing code for the machines that go underground. I actually used (a little bit of) what I studied in university, then I found myself drawn to the adventure, and mostly to the lucrative pay of life on the rigs.
I saw things that I will never forget, and been through some situations that made for great stories and memorable anecdotes. I credit my years on the rigs for my MBA acceptance, my investment banking and consulting job. Yes, I can give you a few examples of challenging situation.. do you want the one with the fire, the amputation, or the helicopter almost crashing into the sea?
Marvels of engineering floating in the sea
There are hundreds of thousands of people who make stuff around the world. I escaped the cozy confines of my Canadian banking job and moved to Silicon Valley where one of these companies is headquartered.
It all started on a project to automate shoe manufacturing in Mexico . It was quite intense so I moved there for a year, and experienced what it's like to fail at something so critical and go from an operation with 7,000 people to nothing in a few months.
There was also Covid and the shut downs and all the supply chain madness. When most of us where at home on our Zoom calls, these factories never missed a beat. Thousands of people wearing their masks and going to work everyday to make everything we take for granted.
I left at a high note, and a greater respect for how much goes into making things and how little its appreciated.
No, this isn't a Flex factory floor
I wanted to be rich. I liked finance, I was good at numbers, and I got an offer to work on Bay Street (Canada's Wall street). The passion fizzled quickly, it wasn't the right world for me. I do think bond and derivatives traders are some of the most interesting bunch of people you'll ever meet. My time there also coincided with the lead-up to the financial crisis, and I got to see how excel models can literally bring the global economy to a halt. I won't go through the details, just watch the Big Short and you'll understand.
Luckily for me I left before all the S hit the F.
There are a lot of screens on trading floors
I was trying to get out of the daze of my investment banking groundhog days. I started interviewing with consulting firms, because hey, if you're an engineer, you have an MBA, and investment banking didn't work out, there's always consulting! I call it an anomaly because I wasn't expecting it to succeed, the probability was quite low and the number of people looking for these roles is massive. But somehow I made it through (again).
Consulting is a really interesting profession, there are tons of jokes about it, but the reality is that consulting firms have been around for almost a century and are thriving. Consultants are way faster than most of your people at doing things, and they don't necessarily care who believes what if the data says otherwise, they will also help you make the data say something it doesn't necessarily say. And damn are they good at the Powerpoint!
Would you like a PowerPoint for that?
Canadian banks. The stalwarts of the Canadian economy, part of a very small cohort of global banks that dodged the financial meltdown of the great recession.
It was supposed to be a quick stint to bring me out of the misery of a seemingly endless winter occupied with feeding squirrels and interviewing to no end. It ended up being six years working in different roles that were actually not that bad. I ran and grew a sizeable business, begrudgingly appeared on tv and radio shows, and travelled around the country working on a bunch of different things that were supposed to help our customers and make us more money.
It was also awesome to see what you can still do with mainframes that were literally commissioned in the 60s, and how painful it is to cobble together a series of interfaces that let you do things on an app that looks like something the masses can (or would want to) use.
I never got to see a real vault full of cash