Today was my last day at Fulcrum. Two days before Thanksgiving, I was informed that my position was being eliminated as of December 31, 2022. I start the new year on severance. The past five weeks have been a mixture of emotions that can be summed up as “strange.” The first week or so was hard as I told my team that I would be moving on. I have been deeply connected to them – bonds forged through the solving of hard problems. Leaving those connections behind is the hardest part of all of this.
I stopped attending many recurring meetings a few weeks ago, especially those focused on 2023 strategic goals of which I won’t be a part. I felt like a third wheel and that didn’t seem productive. I have kept attending recurring meetings with my team, but my role in those meetings changed from leading them being there as a resource for questions. The goal of those meetings became accelerated knowledge transfer and it felt good to continue to work with my team meaningfully.
In addition to looking forward and prospecting the next phase of my career, I’ve spent some time looking back at the past six years and thinking about the reasons I came to Spatial Networks. By February 2017, when I joined the Spatial Networks team, I had been in the federal contracting/consulting world for 24 years, with the previous 15 spent as a partner at Zekiah Technologies. Over that time, I had delivered some great solutions to customers at all levels of government and in the private sector, but my primary customer focus had always been the US federal government.
Federal procurement generally happens in long-running cycles that usually defy the politics or party affiliation of any single presidential administration. Those cycles are typically defined by a mix of preferences in procurement vehicle type (fixed priced, cost-plus, T&M, etc.), award methodology (least-cost, lowest price technically qualified, best value, etc.), socio-economic business status (8A, SDVOSB, etc.), and even the preferred mix of government staff vice contract staff. By early 2017, with a new administration in place, I could feel the procurement winds changing again and I felt cynical about it.
I don’t want to feel cynical about anything on a daily basis, so I knew that I needed a different view of the world. I had followed Spatial Networks and the development of Fulcrum for some time. I had known the company’s founder, Tony Quartararo, for a few years and, to his credit, he understood my mindset and thought he had a good role for me. That’s when I learned that the company had a data-oriented line of business that he was looking to mature. That was attractive to me, so I made the jump.
I came into Spatial Networks with the personal goal of clarifying my professional identity. During my time in the federal space, I was had been operating as the classic “triple threat” who could get the work, manage the work, and do the work. That meant I was writing code every day and performing project/program management and writing proposals and a bunch more. By late 2016, I wasn’t sure I was doing any of it particularly well. I can look back now and recognize that I was burnt out.
So I came into Spatial Networks with the goal of setting some of that down while also learning about the product side of the tech industry. Along the way, I’ve had a lot of experiences. I’ve gotten closer to business operations, been exposed to and worked with a number of new technologies, learned a lot about the product side of the technology industry, worked with and led international teams, gotten physically healthier, and I’ve made a number of friends along the way. Most of all, I am refreshed.
Standing on this side of my most recent journey, I can say that I have accomplished every goal I had when I made the change six years ago. Perhaps the change that I am most proud of is that the first word people use to describe me now is “leader.” Admiral Grace Hopper once said “You manage things, you lead people.” When someone refers to me as a leader, it is an indication that I have succeeded in placing people at the center of what I do. I have always been interested in technology for the ways that it can make the lives of people better, so being seen first as a leader is the success that is most meaningful to me.