Unemployment brings with it unique opportunities. If someone had asked me to give up my high paying job at iWork, accept no pay for a couple of months, and then accept a position as a part-time contractor without benefits at a low rate of pay so I could build a business unit for a company, I would have said no. Changing the situation slightly, namely I had to give up a no-paying job; made it easier to take the risk.
I came across Metro at a trade show I "crashed" and asked them about the kind of work they do and the kind of people they hire. Metro's tradition is supplemental staffing. I wasn't really interested in contract work, but my prejudices were mainly out of ignorance. I decided to hear them out and dropped off a resume.
The recruiter was exceptionally smart; she kept my resume and brought it to the attention of the Managing Director. She kept in touch with me, and made several attempts to get me on board as a project manager (which is what I decided to advertise myself as) just to "get me into the system." The opportunity came a couple of months later.
My boss was given the directive by his headquarters to build a solutions center. He marketed and won a project and assembled a highly talented team of programmers. My boss was a wonderful person. He did many things well. Project management is not one of them. Trying to fit running the project in with running everything else in the division was beyond what he could do in his normal 16 to 24 hour workday.
So he hired me. I inherited a project that was out of control. Fortunately, I also inherited a very talented, and very motivated team. All it took was a little bit of process and a little bit of planning on my part, and a lot of hard work on the team's part, and we were able to pull out of the crisis.
Subsequent projects went a lot smoother. For the first time in my professional career, I had a boss who understood the need for process and quality, and I had a group of programmers who understood the need for process and quality. I didn't need to sell, cajole or justify. I just had to plan and implement.
I was also blessed with a very capable individual who became my "second in command" and who had the respect of our two senior programmers. These three people really ran the show. Problems rarely took us by surprise, and when problems did make it to my level, they are well defined and often come with suggested solutions.
It's a manager's best dream. We still had a long way to go to climb up the CMM ladder, but we have the people and process to do it.
It was not surprising that when our CEO visited our office six months after I was hired, that he gave us official blessing to be a development center. The Winston-Salem office was one of only 8 offices out of the 36 considered to gain this recognition.
It was likewise not surprising that I got a promotion eight months after being hired to head up this new business unit.
Once again, promotion proved to be a bane. Headquarters decided to get out of the solutions business six weeks after giving us the go ahead and eliminated the newly-created position.