The year 2020 was strange in many ways. It forced us to work from home and explore alternative ways to communicate. Even though we had a hard time, it turned out to be the best year of my career.
I forged a new career path for myself by re-exploring my creativity. I’ve been a lifelong musician and since we moved countries 7 years ago, I didn’t play much. This new creative trail was so awesome, I decided to keep walking it. Looking back, this decision was inevitable, I didn’t know when it would happen.
I resigned at Valtech and joined a start-up. We will disrupt the status-quo of enterprise software vendors by using modern tech.
I will be Principal Developer Advocate at Uniform starting Feb 22nd 2021
EDIT: I also made a video for if you don't like reading a long article. Check it out here: https://timbenniks.dev/videos/i-have-a-new-job-at-a-silicon-valley-startup/
Why I changed course
In my day job, I headed towards the role I had always dreamt of: representing front-end development globally. I worked at an agency that Gartner and Forrester consider to be a leader, so this was no small feat. When you want a role in the top tiers of a global company, you can’t just get it, you need to work at it.
Different countries and offices means different cultures. Not every culture accepts a new director. So, the plan was to position myself in such a way that the role would organically fit me.
I decided to do the following:
- work with all offices,
- help out on pitches,
- put out fires where needed,
- create relationships with partners,
- speak at conferences,
- work on hiring talent and
- create content.
By doing this I would assume the role after a while. But, on the path to get there I learnt a lot about our community. You don’t have to be just a developer. There is SO MUCH MORE out there.
To be able to represent our front-end department I wanted to become a trusted person in the community. I spoke at conferences and created content. This also functioned as indirect marketing. I spoke as myself but I represented Valtech.
I found that I loved the process of creating videos and speaking at conferences. Rather than focusing inwards as a developer at an agency, I turned around and started working in the community.
Then something happened.
As it turns out, the community thought me as much as I was able to give back. A great symbiosis was born. Once I got comfortable, offers started rolling in. From CTO or VP of engineering at start-ups, to content creator mercenary for different companies.
Giving honest feedback about products through videos, opened lot’s of doors. I became ambassador for one of my favorite start-ups: NuxtJS. I also maintain relationships with Prismic, Vue Storefront, Cloudinary, TwicPics, WeWeb, Algolia, Passionate People and Zeplin. WOW! Who knew this was possible by making videos?
How I chose Uniform
At work I was helping out on a huge project using Sitecore JSS and React. We ran into some issues and to fix them we found external consultants. These guys were RIDICULOUSLY good at their job and they kept impressing me. We already knew each other through the community and we became fast friends.
At one point Uniform's CTO asked if I knew anyone who could join them as developer advocate. Pros for the role were: experience with enterprise, experience with agencies, experience with modern tech.
He painted a picture of exactly me at the time. I must note here that he didn’t ask me to join in that meeting, that’s not a thing you do when your companies work together.
Time passed and I couldn’t stop thinking about the job. I reached out and our future was decided in 5 minutes. This is a company that was excited to work with me and they showed it. That was a surprising and new experience.
Uniform will disrupt the status quo and they will annoy big CMS vendors for the time to come. They are a group of smart people who are crazy enthusiastic and highly skilled. They figured out a way to use modern tech in front of enterprise CMS systems. Even using their new “almost headless” solutions. Using uniform your website can be up to 10x faster. But, you do not have to give up your contract with the market leaders in the CMS field. Uniform allows you to remove the need for origin servers. JAMstack for the win!
They also started to look at other things enterprise CMS systems are struggling with. Personalization is one of those areas. In my personal experience I have not seen personalization work well at scale. It probably works for some, but not in the way I envision it. Easy to content edit, a nice developer experience and hyper fast for the end user.
I can’t wait to see what the next area of attack will be! I'm excited to create content around Uniform. This new job doesn’t mean that I’ll stop creating content for my YouTube channel. That will continue as is. Opinions are mine and it’s a personal content outlet.
As a closing thought: I had a great four years at Valtech. I daresay it was the best time of my career. I was free to do what I wanted and to shape the front-end landscape the way I saw fit. We celebrated many successes and the front-end work produced in both the French office and globally has been of exceptional quality. Valtech as a company is also very human and kind. They truly invest in their people and treat them well. If I didn't get an offer I couldn't refuse I would have stayed for a long time.
So, I'm moving away from my safe career path as Director of Web Development at an agency to become Principal Developer Advocate at a start-up. 2021 will be exciting...
On my first day at the job I'll be speaking at the JS World conference. You can attend for free!