People are the constant

When I first joined a high tech company in my second real job after university, back in the early 90s, I received some truly sage advice from one of the people who had been at the company for a few years and in the high tech sector her whole career.

She acknowledged that the companies in tech may be more fleeting than the government agency I came from—they form, grow, shrink, ultimately morph into something else, and maybe disappear altogether—but that, if you are lucky and deliberate about it, you will work with some of the same people over and over again.

After that I rode the ups and downs of that particular company, and I did eventually move on to work at a different, larger tech company. Then, as a consultant, I worked for a whole slew of (mainly start-up) companies headquartered around the world.

The one constant was the people. The same people in my network brought me all of my business, either directly or by referral, and they popped up over and over again. I called on them when I needed advice, and occasionally referred work their way. I asked them for names of other people I could hire or refer business to, and the network grew.

I was extremely lucky to have somehow stumbled on a fabulous set of people right out of the gate that I liked and respected, and I was grateful to have managed to earn their respect too.

It's been odd for me since I started with my current employer about 10 years ago, first as a consultant and ultimately as an employee, that it's not in the tech sector; I don't get the chance to work with the people who were there for me for so many years.

Although I owe my transition back to "government" to someone from my tech network who made a similar move before me, it's not that common. And while I do still make a point of seeing some of my former colleagues socially, more and more of them have retired or moved on, and those touch-points are fewer and farther between.

Still, I am glad my new colleague took me aside 26 years ago and shared her wisdom. I am glad to have understood what she meant about the people being the one constant. Although I've moved around and taken different roles with my current employer, I treat everyone I work with knowing that, if I am as lucky in the future as I have been in the past, I will get the chance to work with them in a different role down the road.


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