Adobe. 8 years. Yes, this post is going to be a little different.
On my -1'st day at Adobe, I jump on a plane and head to the US for Application Engineer training. Whilst some industries call this a Systems Engineer style job, at Adobe you are demonstrating and integrating applications. Along with a host of other greater Americas and Asia Pacific Application Engineers, we immersed ourselves into two weeks of intense class work. A reorganization was announced in my second week at Adobe. Having survived 3 very tumultuous years Apple, it was situation normal for me. People I met: Colin Smith, Noha Edell, Terry White, Lisa Forrester; all still at Adobe. I felt at home.
Adobe applications available 8 years ago: Acrobat 3, Photoshop 5.5 and Adobe was just about to launch Illustrator 8. In the print world, Photoshop, Illustrator/Freehand and QuarkXpress ¾ ruled. We could call it the Cretaceous Period in the creative application world.
Whilst I had experience on the web, and using dynamic languages; Java with WebObjects, I suddenly had to reskill in the print world. A proverbial comet was about to explode and start the Cenozoic Period of creative applications.
Much travel, bring people into the Adobe fold, presented Adobe technology to over 40,000 people in the last 8 years. Untold number of hours in a plane. Showing off «cool and useful» things that applied in the real-world was, and still is my passion. Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum, all the nice hotels. Nights alone, waking up in a city whose name you forget. My personal favourite roadshow was Photoshop 6.0 for two reasons: firstly, pioneering the re-emergency of music of 1980s as cool and hip (Generation-X now has money to spend?) by themeimg my session around «Music of the 80's Trivia»; secondly as Liam and Avril saw the best show in Sydney. I also here apologize to all those attendees who saw pictures of my MINI in demonstrations.
There were two events in this period that I was a part of that changed the landscape. One was the change from film to digital delivery of print advertising; the 3DAP and a small company called Quickcut (now a part of Telstra) enabled the technology. The second was the move from QuarkXpress to InDesign by Australia’s major publisher, Australian Consolidated Press (ACP). Adobe, and more probably more specifically Michael Stoddart and I, saved the Packers many millions of dollars by assisting Linda Harkin in this change over. Killing the Xpress dinosaur with the introduction of a more nimble modern mammal, InDesign. Now in Australia, InDesign and PDF is the standard. I proudly look at magazine covers. There is a part of me in there. My name is in the about box on every copy of InDesign in the world. Humbling.
During my Adobe life, I also met and spoke to the founders of Adobe; Drs. Warnock and Geschke. Met and spoken to senior executives too: Mr Chizen, Mr. Narayan, Mr. Elop, Mr. Stephens. The engine of Adobe is its engineers: and I’ve interacted with many of these people too. Smart people: much smarter than I. You get inspired, and pass this on to customers. Listening to a technical presentation on how the «healing brush works» and realized that you know nothing.
There have also been some not so public events: such as Michael Stoddart, Alan Rosenfeld, «Murray» the Crocodile and I acting as «Steve Irwins» and winning the Most Creative 10 minute demonstration at an internal Sales Conference. It was way funny. OK, you had to be there.
During the most recent 3 years I decided to have a major career and job change within Adobe. Thanks to Craig Tegel for his mentorship and management (and more recently Steve Lambley); I worked with a different part of my brain. Working with an excellent team of people: Emmah, Bianca, Daniel, Gavin and Lee, and managing the Australian and New Zealand sales channel. Managing and motivating people has been the most enjoyable part of the last 3 years; as has bringing people into the Adobe company: Mark Szulc for instance: from customer to colleague. Brent Irwin, Aaron Tavakoli. Alan Rosenfeld, now a MINI owner and Mr Adobe Creative Suite Evangelist, Europe. (aside: Hey Rosie, where’s your blog?)
Influencing the sales part of the business: whether it be Licensing system changes, pricing, availability, channel strategy. Working with people such as Denise Dewell, Anna McNally, the smartest guy in NZ: Lou Nunn, Luke Ogier in our partners. What a ride.
In the end, I had reached the end of my natural ability. A change of what I had defined as «a career», and more importantly «life», was in the wind.
The worlds of Split Enz, I Walk Away ring through my head:
Just a slave to ambition /
Tension your permanent condition /
So much you’ve always wanted /
Too much givin' you a sore head
So, its back to what I enjoy most; engaging with customers and technology. Realizing this, I must take time to relearn «technical stuff».
Some Frequently Asked Questions:
- Have you been forced to take this Leave of Absence?
No. This is a decision I’ve made completely my own, and my family’s, choice.
- What happens to your current role?
When you take a Leave of Absence for more than 90 days, your position is deemed «open». Therefore, Adobe is hiring for my role. I will not return to this job.
- Is this an indicator of your opinion and/or faith of Adobe’s products?
No. I think I’ll be an Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign user for life. It’s almost hardwired. And once you have Photoshop neurons, the other applications just link together.
This leave is for me to reset/reboot and retrain for the next 20 years of my life. For the future of self. Has no relation to the incredible Adobe technology.
- What do you think your future is?
Does anyone know, exactly? It has something to do with End Customers, Software and Technology — from a work perspective. From a personal perspective, which is way more important, I’d like to keep that personal. Thanks.
- Do you plan to return to Adobe?
The answer to this question is a little out of my hands, but it is my wish to return to a Technical/Evangelism style role. The work I do will be completely different to what I have done over the last 3 years.
I will always have a passion for Adobe products, as I have for Apple products.
- How did you come to this decision?
Once my «dream» was to work for Apple. I did that. Then what’s next? Originally, I moved into the channel role for a similar reason: the challenge. Once you meet your challenge, what’s next?
I had reached the end of my natural abilities and have decided to reset and go back into a more evangelist/technical/customer role. It is a strange change to «go back»; it limits your so-called career prospects and income. This is contrary to what «your upbringing» expects — ever higher, ever forward, be ambitious. This pressure is internal, and I think comes from the competition we experience in the school environment. Even my alma mater high school, Immanuel College’s motto was «Plus Ultra»; ever higher in Latin.
The scars of ambition do not heal easily. So, my career mantra is now «what's next», technologically. How can I help a small part of the world? Where can I assist people to take the cool technology and apply it in the real world?
It is obvious to state that the future of IT is a highly connected, yet loosely coupled world. TCP/IP packets are changing how the world communicates. Fast processors are changing how we interact with collected assortments of these packets. Somewhere in this maze is a place for an IT veteran.
- Are you available for freelance Technical Support, Training, Consulting, Strategic Planning or Gardening?
No to the gardening; for the other categories please Email me on email@example.com, my rates are reasonable.
- Hey Nick, do you want to come and work for me?
Offers to firstname.lastname@example.org. All offers are considered, but please do not be disappointed if yours is politely declined.
- New! Do you have plans to travel anywhere?
In short, no. Because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing too much of over the last 13 years!
As a heart-felt plea, I am going to ask you to read this post: How to Find What You Love to Do on LifeHack.org. It provides an excellent perspective on the thought processes needed to come to terms.
I’ve learnt that it is important for your physical and mental health to do what you love to do. No-one wants to, nor should have to, slog it out in a soul-sucking job. No-one wants to live their work life just for a distant chimera of «retirement». It is a false goal. Live life for now.
What’s Next? Do something. The ideas and opportunities spin in my head.