August 6th, 2019
I’m Out of a Job: My Career Transformation From 2009
By Rich Uhl

This week I was talking to a customer about their Cloud journey. They asked how their teams would deal with such change. In thinking about this question, my mind flashed back to a time when I found myself in what I thought was an impossible position.

The year was 2009; I had worked at Accenture (Navitaire) for almost 7 years. I was a Principal Infrastructure Architect responsible for Microsoft systems architecture in their Infrastructure Outsourcing (IO) group. I was approached by a member of senior leadership. He said, “I am hearing a lot about cloud computing. I need to know how this impacts our business.” He asked me to start a research project. I began compiling information on all those claiming to be Cloud providers.

As part of my research I flew to New York to attend the 2009 Cloud Computing Expo. My wife walked with me down the streets of NYC to the Javits Center. I went in and took my seat in the keynote area. 

The room had many empty seats signaling to me a lack of interest (boy, was I wrong). A speaker took the stage, I struggled to understand him due to his thick accent. His name was Werner Vogels, from a division of Amazon.com known as Web Services.

I sat in the middle of the room on the padded metal chairs and listened to his presentation. He spoke of agility, speed and gave concrete examples of use cases. After a few minutes Werner’s voice faded as my mind was speeding through a number of outcomes for my career and future. I was filled with fear and dread. It was paralyzing.

My mind finally settled on the thought I’m out of a Job. In a bit of dramatic thinking I started comparing myself to a Fortran developer (sorry friends), a now essentially obsolete skillset. I don’t know exactly how long the dread lasted exactly. 

Then something happened: a new thought like a breaking ray of light entered my mind with a powerful force. I thought You ARE NOT out of a job! You just got a new job. This is your job now. I got the chills and I knew it was true. In a matter of a moment, this change went from being the death of my career to the birth of a new one!

After I returned home from New York I began to focus my time learning everything I could about cloud computing and Amazon Web Services. I started testing workloads and running systems in the Cloud. I joined a start-up division of Avanade (Online Services) in 2010 to deploy CRM environments to AWS. Then in 2014 I went to work for AWS as an Enterprise Solutions Architect.

Looking back 10 years, I count this experience as one of the most pivotal moments of my professional career. It illustrated the point of the book As a Man [Woman] Thinketh So is He [She]. A person’s internal reaction to an event or situation often affects the outcome. In this case, if I had continued to be panicked and stressed, I might have missed the opportunity for growth in this (at the time) emerging field. My life would have been vastly different.

Sometimes embracing change and trying to find its potential will be a chance for us to see advances we never would have considered or imagined. This experience has helped me many times in evaluating my reactions and adjusting my paradigm to be positive and productive. If you or someone you know is temporarily paralyzed by fear because of changing IT trends (or other significant life changes), I hope that my sharing this experience is helpful. I wish you all the best on our journey to transform your career, your skills, and your mindset.