Time for a change

Transitioning from self-employment to an established firm created its share of challenges, but blue skies are on the horizon.

The Siben Consult, LLC, had a great run – almost 14 years. Being “on my own” gave me some freedoms.

Some of those freedoms included:

  • Within RFQ/RFP or client-imposed deadlines, I controlled my life.
  • If I wanted to see a movie after lunch and work through the evening, nothing prevented me – except those previously mentioned deadlines.
  • If I didn’t want to work more hours, or if I didn’t want to work for/with a specific client, I could turn an assignment down.

However, there were some things being “on my own” did not give me:

  • Working from a home office restricted opportunities to interact with others during the workday, unless I took my computer to the library or a coffee shop.
  • There was no guarantee of work every week, or that a client would pay quickly, so paydays and amounts were “iffy.”
  • Regardless of whether funds came from a company or a personal checking account, I could only have the health insurance I could personally afford.

Over the last two years, I had been looking for a position with another firm. I wanted to eliminate the uncertainties of self-employment, and to work in an office with other people. I finally found that opportunity this summer with Chaparral Professional Land Surveying, Inc.

I was so ready to close down The Siben Consult, LLC and move on, that there was no trauma. I posted on The Siben Consult’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages that I was both sad and happy to announce the change.

On July 30, I started my new position, giving the firm its first full-time, designated marketing person. I’m also filling a niche for consulting on strategic issues as someone with extensive experience with a variety of small and large AEC firms.

After dealing with all the paperwork a new position entails, I spent some time with the person who saw to the firm’s IT needs. He told me that there had not been one designated place in the network for marketing folders and/or files, and showed me all the places where information might be found.

I spent the rest of that first week either looking for any marketing-related folders I could find on multiple drives and making notes about locations, or providing “new guy” insights on a variety of the firm’s strategic issues.

The second week started with more searching for marketing-related files, and more strategic discussions. Toward the middle of the week, I actually started moving and reading the files in the folders I had located. I discovered that one very senior person had no resume other than a LinkedIn profile, and that every other resume was in a different format. I found a bunch of project descriptions, with many duplicated or containing conflicting information. And there was little rhyme or reason to the way things were titled or grouped in the computer system.

I was appalled and delighted. On the one hand, the company is more than 20 years old, and I wondered how it had achieved the growth it had with little actual marketing and no coherent filing system for marketing information. On the other hand, this is one of my specialty areas – helping a firm create a system that allows for easy storage in the right place, easy location of information when needed, easy update of information when appropriate, and an easy way to guarantee that updates get into the system.

In the meantime, I am getting to interact with more and more people every day – they stop to say hello now that they know where my space is, or I run into them in the kitchen. And I had the IT person give me an office map with peoples’ names so I could find anyone I need.

So far, it has been a great first two weeks.

  • I don’t regret closing my firm.
  • I don’t regret accepting this position.
  • I have very positive feelings about moving forward.

What more could I ask of a new situation? If you ever change jobs, find your niche as soon as you can, get into the groove, and embrace your new team and the work in front of you.

Bernie Siben, CPSM, is director of marketing and business development at Chaparral Professional Land Surveying, Inc., in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at 512.443.1724 or by email at bernie@chapsurvey.com.

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Posted in Articles | October 15th, 2018 by