In this blog I will explain my reasoning and thought process behind why I chose to leave Vertech to go work for another company in the Industrial Automation field. It really boils down to three reasons.
Three reasons why
- Opportunity for growth
- Satellite office problems
- Increased compensation
If any one of these pillars wasn't there then I'd likely still be working at Vertech to this day. I am going to dive into each of these categories in more detail but first I want to explain why I am doing this and who my audience for this post is.
Take away any one reason. I'd still be at Vertech.
I am doing this because I still have a great respect for Vertech as a company and the individuals that work there. That is perhaps the part that I miss most about working at Vertech was how unique and awesome everyone was, followed closely by the dope projects they worked on. Titus Crabb and Bob Morris are excellent leaders. Running and growing an integration business is a much different skill that doing the work itself. I've come to appreciate this more and more as I have been on both sides of the equation. Kris Grindstaff and Ron Smith were both excellent integration managers. Hani Allawnha was an excellent engineer and project manager. Chris McLaughlin was a sensational business developer. And all of the engineers were wicked smart and very awesome to work with. It was awesome being a part of such an amazing team and Vertech is going to the moon. (Crypto Joke, but seriously I wouldn't be surprised to hear if they were working with SpaceX on taking man to the moon or mars.)
Vertech is going to the moon... No Seriously.
I thought it was important to mention these things first because there may be some old co-workers that may have gotten the wrong impression that I didn't like them or working for Vertech and that isn't the case at all. Unfortunately employee and employer relationships in this field are very much binary. Something that I see changing in the near future and a change that I would like to be a part of. But that is a topic for another post.
So I've talked about my first audience which is my old co-workers at Vertech, many of which I still talk to.
The second audience that I am writing this for is for other companies in this space or others that are trying to attract and retain top talent. Understanding why I left such an amazing company may help them prevent the same from happening to them.
The third audience is other individuals out there that may find them self in a similar situation that I was in. By reading this I hope that they can come to a decision that is best for them, whether that is staying or taking a new opportunity.
And last but not least, I am writing this for myself. Like all my content, I create it for myself to help document, reflect, grow, internalize, and learn from.
To Vertech, Other companies, Other Individuals, and me.
Now let's get into it.
Opportunity for Growth
This is one of the biggest reasons. This is one of the reasons why I joined Vertech in the first place. I was stagnating as a solo-business owner in the integration field. Without a change of pace, or other individuals to learn from my learning and growth plateaued. When I first joined Vertech my growth was explosive. I was going to many training classes, particularly Siemens. I was learning new SCADA platforms like Siemens WinCC and WinCC OA. I was thrown into new fields like writing a manufacturing intelligence system or MIS for a heat treat furnace application. Or developing a manufacturing execution system MES framework from Scratch leveraging WinCC OA and SQL. Or one of my favorites: reverse engineering a proprietary java application, a Citech SCADA, and Factory PMI application and combining into a cohesive redundant and distributed Ignition Application.
I was challenged and I grew a lot. But my growth had plateaued. By putting myself in a new environment, a new position with new responsibilities, new projects, new co-workers, and new management. I have learned a tremendous amount. One thing that attracted me to my current position as a Senior Control System Engineer for Soffa Electric, was the opportunity to manage the development of a large scale treatment plant project for the largest water district in the United States: Metropolitan Water District. (Reference) This project is well underway and I will be covering it's development in coming posts on this blog and my Youtube channel so make sure to subscribe if you are interested. To give you a quick briefing its an Allen Bradley - ControlLogix project with FactoryTalk View SE SCADA. I have personally taken the initiative to implement the PlantPAx library of process objects and it is working out well. But I would have never gotten this opportunity had I not put myself out there and taken a risk.
Satellite Office Problems
Vertech's growth was just as explosive as my own and the Irvine Office ballooned from just 3 Engineers to 8. With so much growth it was hard to maintain a company culture that was consistent with the corporate headquarters in Phoenix. Between moving offices and juggling new projects left and right it seems that culture took a back seat. I know that is something management was aware of and was working on. I don't have a solution to offer myself so I don't want to knock them too hard. At a certain point I think that inevitably a remote office will never have quite the same environment as the headquarters. Face to face meetings with HR or the design department were just the tip of the ice-berg of things we didn't get to do in Irvine.
Perhaps the most critical was not being able to talk to upper management directly if I saw room for improvement or wanted something done. This may seem like an easily fixable issue, but it's effects were widespread. Aside from moving to Phoenix, (which I couldn't convince my better half to do) there was not much I could do. This problem was systemic.
But as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this problem alone would not have been enough to get me to leave. I do hope the Irvine Office is doing well and building a culture of their own. I don't think I can understate the value this brings to the table in terms of collaboration, creativity, and positivity in the workplace.
This one kind of goes with out saying. Unfortunately it is pretty well known that: Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less. I don't make these rules but that is just the way business has historically been. My case is no exception. From where I started at Vertech, to where I started at my new job 1.5 years later my pay was nearly 50% increased. Now I had received a raise during that time at Vertech, and I was offered an overdue raise and promotion after I put in my two weeks notice, but I felt that would be unfair to accept a counter-offer. Research shows these typically don't work out. If you want to know more details I talk openly about my income on my youtube channel.
I think that by doing this we can not only help eliminate gender pay gap, but also help eliminate this phenomenon that rewards employees for taking new positions. Like I said, I don't make these rules, I am just following them, but trying to change them none-the-less. I can certainly see Vertech being an exception to this rule because they do have a very competitive pay and benefit structure. I hope that my case further improves their compensation plan and promotion structure.
Leaving Vertech was a very hard decision, One that in a nearby parallel universe didn't happen. Like I said, I have the utmost respect for Vertech and Everyone there. I had this weird idea that, in some weird way, both Vertech and I would come out better. While it is impossible to know, I'd say that it's true for the most part.
As I eluded to earlier, I see a future where the line between employee and employer begins to fade and we can all be empowered as individuals to work on the projects that we provide the most value to, and not restricted by the rigid relationship of a traditional company. Similar to how Uber, Airbnb, and other gig economy startups are disrupting their respective industries. I hope to be a part of that revolution because I see it benefiting everyone involved. #reciprocity
I hope that you all found value in this post. I appreciate you taking the time to come to my blog and read this. Any feedback you have is more that appreciated. Feel free to reach out to me on the social media platform of your choice, or in the comments below.
See you later,