10 years of Zen

Yesterday (1st March 2014) was a bit of a milestone for me as it marked 10 years since the fresh-faced 20-year-old David Nelson entered the glass doors of Zen Internet on his first day of what has proven to be a long and fruitful career there. This is a long time for most jobs today, although I’m not alone at Zen as there are a fair number of others in the 10+ club.

I suppose some could see this as career inertia but my experience has been anything but. Having started in broadband support my success there meant I was soon offered a job on the management track, and then later the business track doing process work and product development projects where I’ve spent much of the last 4 years utilising my intimate knowledge of the business to make things better, knowledge I developed having watched it grow from an entrepreneurial little upstart of 70 staff to the 500+ staff major employer it is today.

Recently though I felt dissatisfied with my lot having become progressively distanced from the what qualities I saw in Zen that motivated me to apply no less than 3 times for a job there. That is, developing expert technical skills and using it to deliver excellent customer service, something that Zen still prides itself on today. So 6 months ago I made a career pivot and started working on the managed service desk front line, this time with the goal of becoming an expert in IT security; a subject that has interested me for a long time after I discovered the “Security Now” podcast and took seriously as a career option following a chance conversation with a stranger on a train early last year.

Although my job today is little like my first job there (different tech, different customers, different expectations etc), there is a feeling of familiarity about it that does make me feel like I’ve come full circle, but not in a bad way. Progression is rarely a linear path upwards and sometimes the turns allow you to build an understanding of what is most important to you, and it is never a dead end or a “step-backwards” unless you make it is so.

Today, I know what I want to do, where I am going, how I need to get there, and I have 10 years of valuable experience that will help me achieve that. My plans are open-ended however, I am not so dead-set that I may be blind to good opportunities along the way, but I can be more selective about those that present themselves and decide whether they are right for me. Who knows, if the opportunities keep coming at Zen I could be writing again in 10 years time about a 20 year long career there, something that would be a very rare thing indeed!