7 Nov 2010, 10:31pm

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Business as Usual

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The company I was working for was acquired by Cisco in May of this year. Since then, the group that has been given offers, signed, and transitioned over to the corporate behemoth have had mixed feelings about how this all went down. It was interesting hearing people outside of the company’s reactions as well. Some of my friends asked me how I felt. Others flat out congratulated me with a lot of enthusiasm. But my real friends and acquaintances that also like working for small companies had the same reaction: “oooohhh. Shitty. Are you going to stay?”
The transition was pretty difficult. The major growing pains for me personally have been to find my new role without stepping on too many toes, to deal with politics and working with people I don’t know and who don’t know me, the extra commute (granted it’s only 20 minutes each way) and food options near the office. I come to work every day and write down my goals for the day. Sometimes they’re aligned with the project I’m working on, sometimes they’re personal projects that few people know about and sometimes I straight goof off. There’s a lot less productivity, I think by most of us, since we’ve moved over. That could be because of lack of direction by our leadership, or even lack of confidence in what the company is doing as a whole by our leadership.
One day I took a step back to look at my life and the direction I was on. It wasn’t something I believed in. Fundamentally, life is about survival. Sustaining life is about ensuring survival of future generations. Designing consumer electronics that have a lifespan shorter than that of any pet is not necessarily helping the environmental condition, economic condition or psychological condition of, well, anyone in the world.
I believe, on a fundamental level, that consumerism is killing our future one iPhone at a time. Sure, some electronics companies are taking steps to ensure that their products are more recyclable, less waste, etc. But there is no electronic product made today that doesn’t have something bad to contribute to the environment – be it in mining materials, in manufacturing, in logistics of getting it to market, in the short lifespan, in the “recycling” of the product, or in the breakdown of it’s basic components. Thus, I arrive to work every morning with “I do not believe what I do is right” in the back of my head. I’m not happy with my job, and it’s no one’s fault but my own.
I started looking at options and where I could go. Ideally, I’d work on a farm somewhere and raise a small family, but I have to solve the problem of the fact that I can only live in SF, LA or NY because of the girlfriend. I’m ok with that. Now, what can I do to contribute to the cause that I believe in, make enough money to support a family and have it be something that I can actually do? I haven’t figured that out yet.
So I’m applying to graduate school. MBA programs to be exact. I’ll be applying to Berkeley, UCLA and NYU. If I don’t get in, I may apply to Presidio and/or SF State University, since they have well known sustainability programs.
In the meantime, I’ve taken the GMAT, started reading books on the personal MBA list, and taken a few personality tests. I will try to make this process more transparent as I proceed if only to improve my writing skills. Why MBA and not agriculture or ecology? Because I would have to start from the beginning with either of those paths, and with an MBA, I can focus on businesses that hire people who have studied ag, ecology, sustainability and the like. I’m more interested in being able to solve the business problems than in addressing the actual problems.
I’ll continue to keep up with my other goals – losing weight 1lb. at a time, and watching Criterion Collection movies one at a time. Stay tuned.