One Year Later

It’s been roughly a year since the RIM acquisition, so I thought I’d give a little post-mortem.

I successfully avoided working for big companies up until last year, until I wasn’t really given a choice. The avoidance wasn’t due to do a bad firsthand experience, just a combination of what I’d heard and how I pictured it would be. Well I’m sorry to say, firsthand experience wasn’t able to disprove the theory.

In no particular order, the top 3 things I don’t enjoy about working for RIM:

  1. Middle management. I’ve found the stereotype very true, at least for many of the groups I deal with at RIM. Maybe not as bad as David Brent, but still very noticeably lacking. It’s compounded by the fact that RIM has very hands-on, very technical executives on the software side. So instead of middle management functioning as leaders of their autonomous units, they really just act as more of a time-delayed, lossy proxy. The corollary to this is this weird culture of fear and worship of the execs. The trumping argument often goes something like, “Well, MikeL/DavidY said so, therefore that’s the way it has to be.”
  2. Specialization. I get the theory, specialization leads to higher overall productivity, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s hella boring. RIM bought SlipStream for its compression technology, so that makes all of us compression experts only. Any knowledge and experience that we bring to the table in other areas has just about zero value. Of course switching specialties is always an option, but that doesn’t address the underlying issue.
  3. Bureaucracy. I understand, when the company is so big, there needs to be meetings and paperwork to co-ordinate between groups so that everyone is on the same page. I don’t know if it’s like this at other large companies, but I find it’s quite excessive in some cases at RIM. For example, the overriding factor for some technical decisions is whether or not say, the Legal or the IT department need to be engaged in the process. These are two groups that have gotten the reputation at RIM (deserved or not) of extending timelines by weeks to months.

To be fair, it’s not all bad, the things I DO like include:

  1. Benefits and perks. There’s the free BlackBerry of course. Plus the full health/dental, group RRSP, subsidized gym membership, etc.
  2. Compensation. The salary and options packages are very competitive, especially considering the low cost of living in the K-W area.
  3. Better work-life balance. Long work hours are not expected, vacations never have to be cancelled (as did happen once at SlipStream). If you’re not available, they can always find another way.

These are all "nice to have" things, but truthfully they have very little importance to me at this point in my life. I have no dependents, no mortgage to pay, and Bonnie works 12 hours shifts, so long hours aren’t such a big deal. My goal is still that by the time these things do become important (in say 5-8 years), I won’t actually need to work any more. I can dream, right? 🙂

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