Thanks to all my bosses...
I'm quite independent, possibly to a fault. I play well with authority, but am quite clear on where that authority begins and ends. So my relationship with everyone I've ever worked for has for the most part been professional and effective, but not necessarily friendly.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd go back through the years, thinking about everyone I had directly reported to, and thank them, looking for the positive aspects of our time together, and disregarding any friction. None of them will likely read this, of course. Few people will likely see this at all. But it feels like a healthy exercise for a Thanksgiving day.
1990 - MB - Hired me to do some photography work while I was still in high school. Thanks for providing me with a job that showed me that working can be fun.
1990 - CC - Hired me to do the typical computer lab supprt at college. Thanks for putting up with us all, being kind, and trusting us to support systems even though we walked in the door with zero knowledge of what we were doing.
1991 - SC - You replaced CC at my college and supervised all us support folk. Thanks you being possibly the most friendly and supportive boss I've ever had, for taking the time to talk to us, and again for putting up with our faults as we learned how to do the work and what it meant to be professional about it.
1994 - SS - You hired me to do support at IBM Research, right out of school. Thanks for giving me my first job. Honestly, we barely ever talked after I got hired, so thanks also for showing me how teams of independent people can work effectively without micromanagement.
1995 - AW - You hired me to support your online content services. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to work in a startup even before I knew what thay meant, and for giving me the independence to just do my job. Again, even though in hindsight I was pretty terrible at things at that point in my career.
1996 - MK - You hired me to do tech support at a hospital. Thanks for giving me opportunities to grow within an organization, and for giving us all the flexibility and space to do what was needed to get the job done.
1997 - JS - You hired me to do tech support at IBM. Thanks for fighting hard to identify the people who you felt were valuable and get us roles in your organization. Thanks for giving opportunities to us, and making us feel like we were truly valued.
1998 - CS - You replaced JS at IBM. Thanks for letting me have the flexibility to make the career switch from support to coding. Thanks for giving us an environment where wee could respond to changing business needs and let me convert an entire desktop support team into coders. And thanks for letting me realize that such things were possible. Even though we didn't work together long, and it has been decades since that time, Thanks for possibly being the best boss of my career.
1999 - JL - You hired me to come join your startup and help it scale out of your basement. Thanks for putting up with me at a low point in my life. Although we didn't ultimately succeed or stick together, thanks for letting me truly lead a team, mentor and grow new developers, build commerical products out with those devs, and do some really solid work in the first dotcom boom.
2002 - JD - You hired me when I decided to stop working on my own startup, to come join yours. Thanks for having the confidence in me to let me do more than code. Thanks for giving me chances to do on-site consulting. Thanks for showing me that there are better solutions to business problems than just writing custom code for everything.
2003 - LS - You hired me when I took a break from the tech industry for a few months, and worked at UPS for a while. Thanks for showing me a different industry. Thanks for calling me out when I didn't understand the cultural differences between working in an office vs. a warehouse, and both talking and listening to me so that we understood each other when such conflicts arose. Thanks for making me feel respected and valued.
2004 - RK - You hired me to help handle new tech paltforms as a couple banks merged together. Thanks for showing me a leadership style where independent folk like myself are given room to do our work, while still keeping constant communications going and correcting our direction when needed. Thanks for having a true open door policy where there was natural communication with yourself and the entire team, on a constant basis, without formal meeting schedules. Thanks for showing enough confidence in me to look for ways we could work together even after we both moved on to other jobs, even though nothing quite ever came together.
2007 - BW - You hired me to help out with software development. Thanks for multiple years of balanced direction and independence, to let me grow from just some software help into building and leading teams. Thanks for doing what everyone says a good boss should do, of keeping chaos at bay while giving us space to do the work. And thanks for being approachable and friendly, so we knew you were there if we needed anything.
2011 - AI - You hired me to do software development. Thanks for helping me switch to remote work, and to working with the public sector. Thanks for the autonomy and independence, and the trust to let us do our work in whichever ways worked best for us. Thanks for building a team that truly cared for each other.
2017 - DJ - You hired me to come work at your startup. Thanks for giving someone with dated skills a chance, and working with me as I modernized my skill set, learning how software teams have changed, what the latest tools are. Thanks for being reliable both in keeping 1:1s going with everybody, as well as being approachable with concerns, and kind when we were learning and making the mistakes that come naturally with that process.
2018 - MS - You hried me to come back to work at the job I left a couple years ago. Thanks for making that an easy process, and giving me the freedom to just fall back into the role, as well as the opportunities to expand that role to work with new teams and products.
That is all! There are definitely some trends in what I am thankful for, which I'll keep in mind as I finish out these last few years of my tech career.