It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

The artist is always beginning. Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”
– Ezra Pound

Have you ever experienced deja vu? The feeling that you’ve already been someplace?

I began my professional career at Northern Telecom on July 5th, 1983. That would be before most of you were born. I answered a want ad (remember those?) in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for a software developer with five years of experience working on PBXs. I had no idea what a PBX was and since this was long before the days of the Internet, I had no easy way to find out. Still, I mailed in my hand-typed resume, was called in for an interview, and a few hours after the interview was offered a job. My background check was “Can you spell “operating system” and do you have a pulse?”

I loved that job. As a member of a small team of programmers, I worked on fixing bugs (which we called PTRs – Program Trouble Reports), writing new services, and enhancing exciting ones. I wrote in Intel 8085 assembler and a variant of the PLM programming language called Syclops. Having only 64KB of RAM and a 1MB hard drive to work with, I learned (actually, I was forced) to be a very efficient programmer. I remember times when I had to shave four or five bytes off my code in order to make it fit. These days, very few coders think about how big their code is. They believe that memory is cheap and infinite. That was a luxury I did not have, nor do I believe in practicing it today.

As time passed, Northern Telecom became Northern Telecom Nortel Networks which became Nortel Networks which became Nortel which became bankrupt which became Avaya. I never quite made it to Avaya and in 2009 I went to work at an Avaya business partner. That business partner went through its own name changes and in May of 2020 I became a free agent.

Here comes the deja vu part.

Fast forward 37 years and I can proudly say that I have accepted a job working at Avaya on the Customer Experience Innovation Team. The crazy part is that they gave me a start date of July 5. So, all these years later I am right back where I started from.

Of course, that isn’t totally true. The Northern Telecom of 1983 is not the Avaya of 2020. For that matter, I am not the same Andrew. The world of technology has changed drastically since the days of 8085 programming. I started out fixing bugs in printer drivers and I am now immersed in artificial intelligence, virtual agents, and cloud communications. I am also no longer chained to my PC cranking out code. While software development will still be a big part of my life (and love), I am just as excited about helping enterprises move from on-premise to cloud, physical to virtual, license to subscription, etc. I am also overjoyed to be out of the business partner world and back with a company that makes what they sell. For me, that brings on a sense of pride and accomplishment that doesn’t come from selling someone else’s wares.

In my search for a new job, I crossed paths with a number of great people and several exciting opportunities. I am thankful for everyone who believed in me and I am certain that I could have made a significant difference at the companies I walked away from. In the end, though, Avaya was the right choice. Not only do I believe in their (soon to be my) technology and have faith in their/my ability to deliver, I am excited about returning home. My new role is everything I wanted – innovation, teamwork, people contact, visibility, and the ability to make the world a better place. To me, that’s what a great job looks like.

Mischief Managed

Well, that’s it.  A month after being laid off I am off to my next big thing — bigger than what I left.  I can’t begin to describe what this feels like.  I may be an old dog, but I am ready and willing to learn a bunch of new tricks.

29 comments

  1. Sounds exciting! Congratulations!

    1. It is exciting! Thanks.

  2. @Fletch911 · · Reply

    Excellent news Andrew! It’s amazing how our careers continuously crisscrossed each other. Just as you left, I came in. Just as I left, you walked in behind me! While I’m not totally sure who’s following who here, I do know that continuing to work WITH you is an absolute treat, no matter who is currently signing that little piece of paper we get monthly. Best of luck, I’m sure that you’ll make fantastic inroads with many people that you know, and they could not have made a better hire.

    Looking forward to working with you more, and challenging the ideals of the past, bit by bit . . . literally. 🙂

    Fletch

    1. I am really sorry that we won’t be there at the same time! No matter what, I am positive that we will be “working” together for years to come. I am still anxious to hear the last podcast I recorded with you. I never saw an announcement of its publication.

  3. Ken Kumpula · · Reply

    Delighted you are at Avaya. They need someone like you there.

    1. Thanks for saying that, Ken.

  4. What a fantastic win for Avaya. You are bringing a wealth of knowledge and skills which they can only benefit from. Enjoy the deja vu.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I am happy that we will finally be playing for the same team.

  5. Andrew:

    This is exciting news. As an Avaya employee I see this as a big win for Avaya and our customers. I will send you a private message once I see you online in your new role. I am excited to have you as part of the team. Congratulations.

    1. Thanks, Bobby! Looking forward to chatting with you.

  6. Petar Gavric · · Reply

    Congratulations Andrew!!
    As an addition I have to notice that you became a free agent in the “covid time” and “covid time” have shown us how important everywhere in the world is working from distance as well as how important is networking where you are a specialist. So your knowledge worths a real treasure.
    Best regards to you

    1. Thank you, Petar. Networking is the key!

  7. Dan Burgin · · Reply

    As the saying goes, history may not repeat itself, but often it rhymes. Or something like that. Congrats, Great fit.

    1. I think so, too. 🙂

  8. Steven J Romanelli · · Reply

    Congratulations Andrew! To answer your question, yes, I have experienced deja vu. I was with Avaya from 1998 – 2003. After a 17-year stint with a BP, I too returned to Avaya – just 2 days ago. I’m also very excited to be back with the manufacturer and helping them delivery solutions to customers. I know you will help in Avaya’s success. Great to be on the same team with you again!

    1. I really wanted to tell you, but wanted to wait until the offer was official. I just heard that I “passed” the background check (only two speeding tickets in the last four years) so I should be good to go.

  9. This is wonderful news – welcome aboard!

    1. Happy to be coming aboard.

  10. Vicki Sidor · · Reply

    So happy for your Andrew! They’re quite lucky to snag you up. Best of luck to you my friend!

    1. Thanks so much, Vicki. You have always been a great supporter.

  11. Jeremy Chandonia · · Reply

    Congratulations Sir. Well deserved, look forward to working with you on the other side.

    1. Yes! I can’t wait to get officially started. I say officially because I feel I am already working the job even though my start date is still two weeks away.

  12. Daniel Zanutti Gomes · · Reply

    Hey Congrats for the job!
    Love your blog, a lot of useful and organized information. We were implementing a Presence server and RFC was so confuse (even about statuses), your blog helped a lot.
    Sheers from Brazil

    1. Thank you. I love hearing that.

  13. Congratulations! Hopefully our paths can cross again in the near future.

    1. Thanks, Steve. It’s a small world. I am sure they will.

  14. Jeremy Brown · · Reply

    Congratulations. I’ve always enjoyed your blog. I am 37 and began my career with a partner working on Nortel Option switches. Party ended as you noted and I eventually made it to a Cisco partner. Sometimes the change in technology worries me as if I will one day be extinct (again). Your blog reminds me we can grow and change and use those talents to create new ones.

    1. Yep. In this industry, everything you know is out-of-date in six months.

  15. You had a great experience of deja VU . Avaya is a very good Company… 🙂 ❤

    Spirituality Awakening

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