Tuesday, March 20, 2012

tuesdays not in turkmenistan: how i spend my days

When I am at work, most people I interact with know what I do since, well, I work with them. Admittedly, I still field questions on the subject from people in other segments who don't fully understand my job role, but I think they largely understand after a short explanation that usually involves a lot of unnecessary hand gestures. When I'm not at work, meaning back here or wherever I may be, I of course get that question a lot when meeting new people or just explaining to family and friends why I'm on the other side of the planet most of the time.

To start with the easier half, when I'm not at work, then I'm not at work and I'm doing what most people do when they are not at work, which is not working. Yes, that was a needlessly long sentence. However, work has far-reaching tentacles in the modern age with phone calls and e-mails only a few button presses and touch-screen swipes away. In the end, I do some work when I'm not actually at work. It's the inevitability of how things are and my job role and the wonderful burden of semi-management. Otherwise, I'm out attempting to cram in some semblance of a social life into my time while I'm in town or travelling or doing whatever else. For what it's worth, there's a good chance I'll be on the road for some of my next rotation off and not in the Bay Area very much.

Now, when I am at work, how do I spend my days? Well, there are meetings and phone calls and e-mails and talking and typing. It's a lot like many office jobs, sort of. I could arguably do a large portion of my job remotely like when I'm on days off or when I'm in the Ashgabat office. However, there is a certain human element that is inevitably missing that makes some things impossible and many others far less effective. My primary responsibility is to manage and oversee the other engineers in the segment I am in. But what does that entail? I am not sure. I'm part manager, mentor, teacher, reviewer, planner, whatever-er. A typical day involves a couple scheduled meetings, some phone calls (usually with clients), lots and lots of e-mails most of which are internal and semi-management/administrative, and many people who come by my office who want to know if I have a "few minutes" available. Most people misunderstand what the word "few" means but that's OK, because a large portion of my job is to help other do their jobs effectively. This meas a lot of time spent going over training, giving advice, providing feedback, and general mentoring. That's fine. Those are the parts of my job I find most satisfying because I can tell I'm making a specific difference when I help someone do their own job more effectively.

Does meeting with people get me through the whole day? No, not even close. I work for a corporation. A large and mostly faceless corporation. Anyone who has ever worked for a large company can tell you that corporations need process. It's vitally important to maintaining any sort of order and consistency throughout the company. It inevitably leads to interest in numbers and forms and steps and PowerPoint. This is what fills a good chunk of the rest of my day that is not otherwise taken up by meeting with people.

Then there is the "technical" aspect of my job that is in my job title. I can do most of that in relatively little time compared to the meetings and the process. Now, I need elements from the technical part of my job to meet with people and grind out process but in terms of actual technical work product, I don't spend as much time on it as one might think.

So what do I do all day? I'm apparently not sure.

1 comment:

Buickguy said...

"I'm apparently not sure," as a closing line is funny, but a cop-out. We'll await the sequel.