So, in early 2019 I stepped down from my role as CTO of a S.M.E in Camberley, UK where I'd spent 5 years both delivering services and running the development team Being a CTO had been one of my life goals I set my self when I was around 22, at the time it seemed like a lofty goal I'd never manage to reach but always felt I should aspire too - roll on about 10 years and it was something I wasn't very far away from. I spent a good 3.5 years as CTO working both to deliver a product and ensure ongoing service for our customers.
For most of that time life was good, I was enthused and I was building a team that I was really proud of. I've posted previously to twitter about my struggles with my mental health, I realised that by the time I left that role I'd over stayed by about 6 to 12 months - for my own sanity I should have left sooner. The final year working there everything seemed more difficult than it ever had before and nothing was going the way it should.
After leaving that role I started working for poweredbypie as a Senior Developer working directly with their Software Architect tackling items of technical debt. I very quickly realised two things, the first was that I was really burned out from my previous role - everything I was doing at PIE although it was interesting it was still taking more effort to do things than it should. The second thing I noticed was the need PIE had for a Service Reliability Team.
As I type this I have officially been a Service Reliability Engineer or SRE for about 3 months now and I can honestly say it is one of the most challenging but fun roles I've ever had - I'm completely divorced from delivering features for our software that customers are clamouring for - instead I'm tasked with handling other non-functional features like, will it scale, can we run it on smaller hardware, where are the performance enhancements and my favourite - how can we modernise this code base. Realistically my role hasn't changed from the day I joined, I still work very closely with the Software Architect each day but I do so know legitimately as a force for good inside of the development team fixing things that make the software, environment and processes.
You may be wondering why I've written all of this out? Well it was because of a question I was asked by a long standing friend - it can basically be summed up as why have you downgraded your role?!
This has been a difficult answer to articulate and I've been mulling over this post for about 3 months now but I think I've finally nailed it.
I haven't downgraded, I've moved from a very managerial role of CTO to a wholly technical role of SRE.
I still have to use the same knowledge, experience and skill set I did before but without the man management and reporting directly to C-Level executives. I actually feel this is a better fit for me than my previous role was, I get to work from home, on cool things and am pretty much left to my own devices to churn things out at the pace I need too - unless there is a service issue, then its all hands to the pump and getting a handle on what is broken and what needs to be fixed.
So Dean, if you read this I hope this answers your question I couldn't answer previously.
I haven't downgraded, I've upgraded my awesome by doing what I did before in a more technical fashion.
I'm a damn IT Butter Fly.