2020 – The Career Turning Point.

Today is May 1st 2020.

For posterity sake, the family have been locked down at home since April 18th due to COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysia Government implemented Movement Control Order, allowing general public to only go out to get essential supplies. Schools are closed, wife and I have been working from home. Today, the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that most businesses can start to operate from 4th May. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

4th May also mark the 5th month that I am in this job as a “leader of leaders”. In other words, I have front line managers reporting to me. My official title is “Director of Engineering”, thought for most part of this company we can call ourselves anything. Needless to say, I have been drinking from the fire hose since the start of the year when i took up this job. There have been self doubts as I have not been in this job before, it’s not like they teach you to be a “leader of leaders” in university. Looking around the bookshops, there are too many books pulling me in different direction. The organisation have too much to lose if I fail in my job.

At the start of the year, the department organised a recognition event, where we had a party and dinner on the ferry that took is under the first bridge. I brought the wife along as we can bring a partner.

I started my career in a Multi National Corporation (MNC) that make processors for computers. Graduating with a Games Design Degree, the hiring manager somehow gave this local boy with a quirky degree a chance in the team (truly grateful for him, we are friends till today). I was part of the smaller Embedded Systems business unit as a software engineer. At that time, I didn’t know that this business unit would grow into one of the key business in Intel (now known as Internet of Things Group). I was hired because I know a bit more than other fresh graduates on graphics programming, as the team started to embark to develop a graphics driver for embedded systems. I stayed with the group ever since, taking on the front line manager role in 2011 when my manager left and my colleagues through that I was a good replacement. Company paid for my Masters in Science, majoring in REliable embedded systems and grew fondness for functional safety. Subsequently, I took on additional role as software project manager (on top of the existing people manager role, at one point caused a massive burnout and a one month viral infection). Took on full time program management role, till January this year when my manager left and I took over his job as the Director of Engineering.

Brought the family to Kuching for Christmas holiday on 2019, came back after new year 2020 with a new role

All planned ahead of course.

And like that, I transitioned from managing projects to managing to a large team and have managers reporting to me. To put into perspective, I inherited a high performing team that is working on some of the most challenging technology in the company. The team have to work with many other business unit and unlike some engineering teams, we do sometimes have to meet customers. At the time that I took over, there is also strong headwind coming from the larger business unit. I summarize that the business unit at this time took on big organisation changes so that we can grow our engineering capabilities.

My last trip to Ireland site for the power-on event. Little did I know that a few months after this picture is taken, life would take me through another journey.

I have learned a lot in the past 4 months. I am also blessed to have some insights early in my career on some basics of management. I am thinking that it’s time I keep a journal on all the learning, the coaching and the sharing that I got from people way better than I am. I also want to document down all the thoughts, the emotions and the triumphs in this career journey with the people that supported me. Hopefully coming out stronger than when I went in.

While this blog and posts documents my journey, it reflects the reality that I am going through. Not everyone will go through the same path, or have the same resources as I have. We each have to find our way forward into the unknown. Only thing we can commit to is to share our journey so that others may choose to follow out way.

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