Time for something very different to my usual techie content, and for me to provide you with something totally personal. I took the opportunity during the quiet end-of-the-year time to reflect back a bit on my tenure at 1E, and particularly on how I came to end up here in the first place. This is sort of in line with a number of other posts over the past year that are not technical at all, but really focused on the people and the working environment instilled at this amazing company. If curious, then refer to these several posts that go into this aspect of our company: 1E Graduate Program; Simply the Best; and Multicultural Working at 1E.
This article is going to address a different but very important dimension of this company not often heard of in today’s business world. More on this in a bit, but first let me explain my background and how I came to be here in the first place.
Eleven or twelve years ago, I was the SCCM Admin at CVS Pharmacy, having been in the SCCM world for a number of years, and then four or so years at CVS. It was a company and job I loved dearly. In that role I stumbled across this really cool program called 1E WakeUp (now integrated within NightWatchman) that let me power up my managed computers automatically with an SCCM advertisement. I was able to buy it, even though it was from this tiny, brand new startup company in England of all places with the odd name “1E”! They were so small in fact, that my little 4,000 seat deal saw one of the cofounders of the company travel from London to my facility to do a PoC and to try and teach me what the heck magic packets and WOL were. It was a great experience all around.
As a long time alumni of the old MMS conference I felt really connected with 1E thereafter each year as they had their tiny booth and three or maybe four sales people in the expo hall. It was great fun hanging out with the entire crew, even getting invited along to the memorable 1E Party where I could rub elbows with really big customers – far more than my paltry 4,000 seats of WakeUp! These annual events were a real highlight of MMS for me year after year, and allowed me to get to know the very senior executives (and founders!) like Sumir Karayi, Mark Blackburn, and Phil Wilcock, along with a number of other technical experts in the company, and some of the most amazing sales staff ever. Over the years, the success of the company saw 1E’s MMS participation grow steadily, as did the product line, and the fun.
Then something very interesting happened. The company’s growth was such that the decision was made to hire some technical pre-sales staff in the US to augment the sales team (heretofore, all sales efforts originated out of London and long haul flights to the US). If memory serves, one engineer was hired initially that first year. This was to be a test of the process to see how it worked. A bit later on at MMS I learned there was thought of hiring some more. Well, things at CVS had gone downhill seriously for me when the back office IT roles were outsourced. I gave that a year, and the handwriting was on the wall. It was time to look at a change. When I learned that my now good friends at 1E were hiring. I proceeded to lobby very hard for a job, but I had no sales experience in my long IT career, nor any consulting experience. Someone else was hired. Fast forward to the following year, or maybe two. Time to add to the US head count. There I was, figuratively jumping up and down and waving frantically: PICK ME! PICK ME! Eventually I was given serious consideration and put through the wringer of some real interviews, and eventually I was given the offer I’d fought so hard for over a period of years. I was US Employee #3. Side Note: There is a possible debate on that number as two of us were hired and started on the same date. We always argued which was #3, and which #4! This all occurred over eight years ago. I remain as the only one left of that initial group of four, so I’m OK claiming #3 as there’s no one left to contradict me!
Now so far this all sounds like just another guy hustling for a job successfully. Here’s where all this gets serious. When I was finally given the opportunity to join this crazy and amazingly talented gang, I was 60 years old! The median age of everyone in the entire company at that time was maybe 34 or 35. I was and continue to be (I believe) the oldest employee in the entire company. Think about that for a minute: here is a young company making the very important decision to expand the entire business onto a new continent, and they took a chance on a guy who was clearly very close to retirement age at the time, yet hired me anyway! I’m now well beyond the typical retirement age in the US, at 68 years old, and still going strong. Interestingly, when we finally had to bring in a formal Human Resources team I found myself in a “protected category” due to my advanced age! HA!! I’m having great fun with that!
The serious point I’m trying to make here, and hinted at in my second paragraph, is simply this. 1E is more than multicultural, or full of really smart people and great technical solutions. It is a company of real INCLUSION, regardless of age, orientation, religion, or ethnicity. I am the living proof that age discrimination is unheard of here. In my opinion, this is not the case in most companies here in the US. I’d have never been given so much as a serious interview. In contrast, my company has provided me the best job I’ve ever had in a career spanning 30 years since my Navy retirement. They did so in spite of my advanced age, and continue to this day to make accommodations that allow me a more relaxed pace than I had in my first six or so years here. This is to allow me the option to continue contributing to this great team for as long as I choose or until I drop dead on the job, at which time I expect a company-paid funeral with a proper 1E “Leaving Do” in lieu of the retirement Rolex! I truly love this company and the people in it, and many others now long gone as well. I’ve never known another company like this, and am beyond proud to call myself a 1E employee.
Oh, and after I’d been here for upwards of four or five years, I learned of a comment made by a former manager upon my departure at the old job: “He’ll be back in six months!”
P.S. the picture accompanying this article illustrates an example of why I love it here. It is actually from a local 1E Customer Appreciation event! We took customers out on one of the former Americas Cup yacht defenders here in Newport RI a number of years ago. Most were total landlubbers and simply wanted to kick back and enjoy the view and drink the beers… *I* was all “OMG! Skipper a 12meter Americas Cup yacht under sail IN Newport?! Hellz Yeah!!!” I ended up piloting the boat for most of the trip, and I was working! As a lifelong sailor, this was a serious highlight in my life.