Career Signals: Knowing When to Change Tracks

Career Signals: Knowing When to Change Tracks

Today marks the shifting from one track to the next track in my career. For the last six years I have been working for Baseline Consulting while enjoying the luxury of being at the same client the entire time. When I signed on six years ago, I left behind the corporate world to dive into the world of consulting. The promise was for 12 months on my first project with no guarantees beyond the twelfth month. However, the one year turned into four and the fourth year turned into six and the potential for several more years was quickly approaching.

Why change tracks now?

Because just like the opportunity to work with the kick ass folks at Baseline came along six years ago, the right opportunity to take the next step in my professional growth came along. I am now an independent consultant and will be working on a kick ass data quality project as a lead production Teradata DBA. I’m not really sure the level of detail that I can fully disclose about the project that I am working just yet, but I’m pretty sure I can share this much. It is in the realm of health care and it affords me the opportunity to work from home 75% of the month and spend the other 25% at the client site.

This whole independent thing is going to take some adjustment on my part and that of my family. But I think it is the right challenge for me at this time. I’ve have struggling internally regarding the direction I wanted to take my career. In fact, I remember clearly sitting down with my manager at Baseline in the Swan Dolphin hotel during a Teradata Partner’s Conference three years ago talking about whether or not being a DBA was becoming a commodity career and whether the time was coming to change tracks and focus on something new.

Three years have gone by since that conversation and I have realized that my heart is still into being a DBA. I just spent 5 hours documenting a routine that I wrote earlier this year that I was quite proud of writing at the time and I still am. My transition notes that I left behind were a window into that passion, all 8 pages of them. Some of the most passionate emails I have written were done over the course of the past week as I navigated a political mine field with a team of Oracle DBAs.

What I thought was lost over the past several years as I internally struggled with finally came to light over the past four to six weeks as I wrestled with Oracle 11g and Teradata batch environment. I can tell you it wasn’t the ETL transformations that made the adrenaline flow. It was the taking the feeling of being in charge and taking ownership of the problem when it seemed no one else cared. It was trying to right the ship so that it can be left in calmer waters under the hands of someone else who can navigate in my absence.

Whats around the next bend?

I’m not sure where this is going to end up from here. But I do know that it involves me paying attention to some of the things that I have neglected professionally recently:

  • Blogging – It’s never been more important than it is now.
  • Community Involvement – I need to get to the next round of Teradata User Group meetings. Chicago or Dayton. Then of course there is the online community buried in LISTSERVs still and occasionally on the web. Not to mention presenting.
  • Twitter – I better start ├»┬╗┬┐proselytizing. #TeradataHelp (#TDATAHelp) anyone?

12 responses

    • Thanks Phil! I’m looking forward to the journey beginning. I appreciate the offer to help out where possible. You’ve been a great help so far and I hope our paths do cross on a project. Worse case, if I end up on the East Coast somewhere near NJ we can grab some dinner and drinks. :)

  1. Rob-
    Baseline has lost another HUGE brain! Healthcare?? Right up my alley. And, keep on blogging! It’s great for the soul. Best of luck, bro……

    • Thank you Carol! I will definitely keep up on my blogging. I hope to see you continue blogging for Baseline as well. :)

  2. Rob,

    Though we’ve never met personally, I feel like I already know you – so I want to wish you the best as you take this new path and hope the ride will be smooth and provide everything you’re looking for. I took a new path 3.5 years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s been everything I hoped for and more. In fact, it’s expanded my circle to include cool people like you!

    Good luck and keep blogging/tweeting so we can all enjoy your ride vicariously!


    • Terri,

      Thank you for such a warm and thoughtful comment. I’m glad we have had the chance to meet here and on Twitter. Hopefully one day our paths may cross and we can either work together or at least catch up for a drink/coffee.


  3. Hi Rob,

    I am sorry that I missed this blog post when it was published!

    I have always believed that everyone’s professional path should follow something that they are truly passionate about, and as you said, you are still passionate about being a DBA. Even if, like many roles in enterprise data management, it is becoming a commodity, there is always room for passion to differentiate those who, as you said, like being in charge and taking ownership of a problem when it seems no one else cares.

    Commoditization often breeds apathy, which is why superior performers and leaders, such as yourself, will always be needed.

    I wish you the very best as you embark on this new stage in your career.

    Best Regards,


    • Thanks for the kind words Jim.

      You’re spot on about the need for superior performers. There is a magic quadrant that I try to keep myself in and that is the upper right of the Will vs Skill graph (Managing Humans by Michael Lopp). There is nothing better than feeling the fire inside when you are pursuing your passions in life. I’ve seen your passion for Data Quality in your writing and the passion of others as they have made career changes over the past year as well.


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