Thank you VMware, for two and a half awesome years as an HCI Systems Engineer!

Posted by Paul Braren on Jun 17 2019 (updated on Jun 29 2019) in
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  • VMware
  • In late May of 2019, I gave polite 2 weeks notice to VMware management that I had an outside offer and that I had just accepted it. I also emailed my resignation at that moment. Yes, June 12 2019 was my last day as an employee. The separation was amicable and completely cordial, which is about as classy a way as anybody can hope to depart one company for another. No earth-shattering revelations to share here, other than the one thing you can count on in IT is that things are continually changing, and it had become time for me to look around inside VMware and outside of VMware. I won't pretend it doesn't sting a bit when that realization was finally made. A whole lot of soul-searching and job searching was in order. Ultimately, handling change positively makes me stronger and better equipped to handle whatever adventures lay ahead.

    Any new job is a big change in one's life, professionally and personally. I can say that I'm extremely grateful to have been able to look for and find career growth opportunities, thanks to a network of friends, colleagues, and a bit of LinkedIn. Yes, the last few months have been quite busy, filled with change both personally, and professionally.

    My job search involved a pretty intense set of discussions with various companies, making as sure as one can be that I wouldn't regret my decision to move onward. I'm not a fan of regret. I'm very grateful to a few close friends and my family helped me with my quiet journey, and really opened up my mind to thinking broadly about possibilities.

    Regrets? Nope.

    I'm glad I jumped in with both feet at VMware and gave it my all, as I've done with all prior employers, and will be doing again at my next job. Working at VMware, I was finally able to move my career forward in a meaningful way.

    I quite enjoyed presenting at VMUGs and talking to hundreds of customers in the commercial (private) sector, where I focused on Hyper-converged vSAN and VxRail solutions. It was quite a ride. I certainly don't regret taking the challenge on, and I'm forever thankful for the opportunity to take on that challenge.

    Closing thoughts

    VMware will always hold a soft spot in my heart, and I still have an incredible feeling of pride and respect for this brand whose software has benefited me personally and professionally for over two decades. Yes, I took that photo of the VMware logo above.

    I will be continuing to use VMware products going forward: they're an integral part of my next role, and integral to the careers of many of my readers too. VMware's wonderfully supportive community of virtualization enthusiasts is simply incredible.

    Time to wrap up this quick announcement up with a quick retrospective of where I've been. IT is a challenging career path, but I feel fortunate to have had each and every one of these opportunities that have helped shape me into who I am today. One more quick glance back, before shifting my focus back to what's ahead.

    My IT Career Timeline

    Cornell University Help Desk


    Mar 1993 - Jul 1994 - Worked for free that first week, on the promise of reducing PC (DOS/Windows) help ticket backlog. Did some development as we rapidly got students online in those very early days of explosive internet growth.

    MindShare Associates


    Sep 1994 - Oct 1997 - OS/2 Technical Consultant / Trainer
    Got myself OS/2 Certified, earning myself a chance to train corporate resellers. I became the technical lead as we grew from 12 to 180 employees in a 6 month span, driving extensively because we couldn't afford to fly. Worked from 1995 to 1997 as a contractor at IBM offices, training, and creating a new computing infrastructure and datacenter at a new customer facing facility.



    Oct 1997 - Dec 2016 - IBM Senior Storage Technical Advisor
    Running DataCenters, rack-and-stacking, doing VMware JumpStart!s. I also deployed a lot of datacenter hardware and software 35 of the 50 states in all industry sectors, including Federal. My last 7 years at IBM were focused on IBM XIV and FlashSystem Storage, overseeing and performing hundreds of successful installations. Job included risk reduction through careful change management, emergency response management, and root cause analysis.
    I announced the end of my international adventures at IBM in my article called Thank you IBM, for 21 amazing years!.



    Jan 2017 - Jun 2019 - VMware Systems Engineer (vSAN)


    While airborne, I proudly announced Today is my first day at VMware!. I went in with my eyes wide open, knowing full well that such a career pivot to a pre-sales role would be rather new to me, as it was not the sort of role I had been in since the early 1990s. My title was Systems Engineer, reporting to incredibly well-liked Peter Keilty. I got to witness the team double in size several times, an awesome rocket-ship ride trajectory was a very good thing for employees. I was one of only 4 hired in the Commercial sector, covering a massive patch, from Michigan to Maine to Virginia!


    Aug 2018 - VMware Senior Systems Engineer (vSAN). This was a promotion, and a relief. Perhaps I can do this job after all!

    Feb 2018 - VMware Senior Solutions Engineer (HCI)
    Promotion! Paried with my Account Executive, we beat all sales objectives and then some, and received team awards. By the end of the year, our territory had shrunk to New England and Metro New York City, which is perfect for where I live in Central Connecticut, right between Boston and New York! Driving now more than flying, but still helping with booth duty at industry events too, which I quite enjoy.


    Feb 2019 - Even more hiring, wow! This is sales, where change is to be expected.

    Jun 2019 - Politely resigned from my position at VMware, having found another great opportunity.

    Jun 19 2019 Update


    Jun 29 2019 Update

    Today, I watched In Good Company with my wife. Honestly, the themes it touched upon really hit me rather close to home, as I continue to ponder the many lessons I've learned in presales these past two and a half years. Putting food on the table, ageism, and speaking from the heart. Yes, putting on a one hour presales "show" is quite different than the racking, stacking, and installing software that I was used to. I'm glad I now learned to be comfortable presenting technology to customers, figuring out a solution to their challenges together, and helping get issues resolved.

    A successful sale is really more about actually increasing the customer’s likelihood of getting home on time for dinner with their families, with enough food on the table to share. That kind of outcome ultimately has a far bigger impact than the fanciness of the vendor-provided "free" lunches that don't do the customer’s family a whole lot of good.

    Today I also share a profoundly memorable tweet by @jcefidel, pictured below. Sharing it here is my apology of sorts, for my disappointingly vague article above where I tap dance around the core issue of how the job I loved gradually morphed into something that I was not particularly well suited for. That doesn't mean the growing team I left behind won't do extremely well without me, or the company. I wish VMware and my wonderful ex-colleagues there nothing but the best, and by the way, my new job still has me working hands-on with Hyper-converged infrastructure.

    In Josh's article and the tweet, and the touching torrent of supportive replies it generated, there are oh so many nuggets of IT career and presales wisdom to reflect upon. I wish I had read something like this years ago. Josh Fidel is far better at blogging from the heart than I, which is exactly why I share it with you here, now.

    "Ashes to ashes, or, burning out on the mountain top." - Josh Fidel

    While each of our reasons for a job change differ, I'm guessing the thousands of folks who sifted through my article above reached the end wondering if they learned anything about what pitfalls to avoid, or lessons to learn. Josh's article Ashes to ashes, or, burning out on the mountain top. will hopefully help quite a bit more.


    See also at TinkerTry



    See also

    Happened to have listened to this during a long drive a few days too late for my recent job search, but I figured others might benefit from this fantastic podcast.