A couple of months ago, I was driving home from the office on a Saturday afternoon, when I realized it was time to make a change at work. I've been lucky to work on a great product with a great team. People will often say that before they leave a product and team, but I really mean it. And so, I knew it wasn't the product or team that had to change, but rather my role working on that product with that team.
In short, I was beginning to become complacent. I felt my job was important, and that I was doing well with it (though by no means have I learned all there is to learn about it nor would I claim to be the best at it!), but the passion and the challenge were beginning to fade. The first half of my almost year and a half as a Program Manager was spent planning and designing software features. The second half was spent leading feature teams to deliver software features and working closely with customers and partners.
But the one thing I found myself missing... the thing I went to school to learn and did in small doses all through college... and regularly did at night while spending the day as a PM... was actually developing the software - creating something out of nothing.. creating software in Visual Studio, not software specifications in Microsoft Word. The more I began to realize I was missing it, the more I began to resent every moment I spent working on an Excel spreadsheet or a Powerpoint presentation. To test the waters, I began to write code here and there, providing tools to fill gaps in the early pre-Beta versions of the product I've been working on. Suddenly, I remembered what it felt like to look at the clock after 5pm and think to myself "gee, where did the day go?".
Eventually, I discussed these feelings with the management on my team, and they were incredibly supportive. Just several weeks later... it's official that I'll be resigning my Program Manager hat and replacing it with a shiny new Software Development Engineer one (at least, it looks shiny from here).
A whole bunch of thoughts have been going through my head lately. I've formed some strong opinions about the Program Management role, having worked with several hundred PMs in my time thus far. I'm a little bit nervous about my new role, though I've always felt that if one doesn't think to himself "Oh f***, I'm in way over my head" after the first week at a new job, it's probably not a challenging enough job. I think there's a steep learning curve ahead of me, and I hope that once I conquer it, I'll still feel as passionate, challenged, and engaged as ever.
(Oh, and as a quick aside.. because I can't resist throwing this in here.. I got my hands on a Zune for the first time today, and it's REALLY REALLY SEXY. I don't think I'll be able to resist buying one of these babies..)