Vice President

I've been a Vice President of SomeKindOfDevelopment twice - one time I was responsible for about 180 people and the second time about 70 people.

Once the job grew beyond about 50 people I didn't like it as much as when it was small, so both times, instead of moving on to some kind of Better Vice President job I reverted to being an "individual contributer," as big corporations call worker bees.

I like being an "IC". I like making stuff. As a VP I would always be jealous of the ICs that were making all the products. The best thing about being VP was running around and seeing all the cool stuff that the ICs were making.

Sometimes I couldn't resist and I would poke my nose into making something, even though I wasn't an IC, and was supposed to just get ICs to do more work.* I performed the opening ragtime music for the SNES and Genesis versions of "The Jungle Book." For Demolition Man on 3DO, I coded up a thing that ran on SGI machines and read the digital output of a film scanner, which we used to get some cut scenes from the movie into the game.

At Adrenium, the build system was set up so I could check something out and tweak it! On Azurik I fixed a few engine bugs before some key milestones.

I like being an IC.

The hard part is switching back from VP to IC. This is hard for people to understand because it seems like a step back. Maybe it is for some people.

But not for me.

*People love the idea of a hands-on VP until they get one. The fact is, poking your nose into the IC's domain is risky - the ICs have ways of doing things and they don't like it when a potentially ignorant VP touches their stuff. The flip side of messing with people's stuff is that you get a genuine appreciation for how hard or easy their work is; my experience is that people really appreciate it if you know how hard their job is. I actually spent a lot more time messing with people's stuff than I indicated above - I would just screw with something and then never check it in, and the experience of fooling around with stuff helped me sanity check our work processes.

© 2004 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.