September 10, 2021

Leaving Canonical

Almost exactly two years ago I started my first job after graduating from University. I turned 22 and became a Product Manager in the space of 2 months. Two facts that I have kept under wraps as much as possible. I started as the Product Manager for robotics. The number of Products or initiatives I was managing grew, I dealt with new and interesting problems, and I had a front row seat to the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the business. Today, the 10th of September 2021, is my last day.

Eight months ago I felt like my learning curve was flattening and things didn't suit me, so I tried to quit. I failed. Instead, I pivoted to become a Developer Advocate on the community team and had a host of new problems and new interesting people to work with. Now, I feel the challenge plateauing again, I’m getting comfortable and satiated, and so it's time for a change. This is about my decision and the future.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Why tho?

I’m leaving Canonical because it’s about time. I’ve talked about the cons of working at Canonical as honestly as I can before, that I won’t go into here, but they are not why I am leaving. There has been drama and a lot of other people leaving recently that are easy things to point to as instigators of change. But these are not why I’m leaving either. Anyone who thinks someone would make decisions about their career or a large project (like a podcast ending perhaps) based on what other people are saying and doing, are fools.

I’m leaving because I learn best in a trial by fire. In the beginning I had to learn quickly. I had growing responsibility for important things, I had very real deadlines and objectives, and I was in a regular pressure cooker with the CEO. I could have tracked what I was learning on a steep gradient. I was uncomfortable sometimes, things were hard, but that’s what I wanted, I loved that. In most things it's fair to say I want to learn as much as I can as fast as I can, do things, experience things, make mistakes, learn, and do the next thing. So that’s what I’m doing, the next thing.

The next thing

It’s an industry switch and a role switch-back. I’m going to be a Product Manager for the digital-lab inside South Pole. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing, but I’ll be glad to do it. South Pole is a renewable energy, sustainability and climate solutions consultancy that are, from what I can tell, looking to productise and make it easier for organisations to make better decisions for the environment and the planet.

Sustainability and international development have always been a massive interest of mine professionally, and I have more relevant experience, personal interest, and side projects going in, than I did when I joined Canonical (oops). I’m incredibly excited to get started and I have so many ideas.

The most important thing for me was that the ‘next thing’ had a mission I could get behind. And I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got that. It probably had a small amount to do with my C.V and interviews, but in this job market, in tech, it was mostly luck and privilege. And I believe it's important to recognise that and I intend to be a part of changing that when I join.

Neat, so what?

I know my time at Canonical was a useful experience and that it is the right time to leave because a heap of my enthusiasm and excitement about the new job comes from wanting to jump in and tackle new problems equipped with the skills and experience I’ve gained. I feel equipped. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll be out of my depth and I’ve already started reading research papers on climate change because I’m already feeling like this must have been some chance mistake and they’ll tell me they clicked the wrong button in their recruiter system, but I have a tool box. A tool box of things to do and things to try. It won’t all be on the fly this time.

Probably the most important thing I learned at Canonical, and from Ubuntu in general, that I carried with me to every interview and intend to talk about to anyone who will listen, is the spirit and value of open source and community. Working in the open and being accepting and encouraging of collaboration and contribution. I’ve seen first hand how it makes things more enjoyable, go more quickly, and just generally better.

So, what I’m hoping to get out of this, and the people who have read this far, is insight. I intend to stay a part of the Ubuntu community, I’ll still be on discourse and contribute wherever I can, but I also want to discover renewable energy and climate change communities. I’ve googled around and found some open source projects and numerous groups or forums that could be promising, but do you know any? I’d like to start, in the three weeks between gigs, getting the lay of the land and finding out where I might fit in. What do you think? Find me on Twitter or Discourse and let me know? :)