Career Opportunity : “”Cloudy” About an Opportunity”

December 8, 2009

Dear Mike and Lee:

I’m an ISO for a mid-size firm, stable and happy in my current job.  I hired on a couple years ago having spent most of my time in IT and security management in a different industry vertical.  I’m paid fairly for my skills/responsibilities.

Someone in my security network is recruiting me to join their new “cloud venture”, a new subsidiary of an established local growth IT firm for SMBs now branching out with new government contracts.  I’m NOT looking but this could be a neat opportunity for career growth and bigger $$$ … but definitely a lot less stable, should things not go well.  With a young family to consider … would you make the leap? What factors would push you one way or the other? Cloud computing seems to rule the discussions of the day and virtual security challenges are compelling problems to solve. I’m just wondering if this is the right whirlpool to jump into right now?  If I don’t will I likely regret it?

Signed,

“The Weatherman”

Dear “Weatherman”:

The best things that you stated in your questions are that you are currently happy in your role and your position is stable. In addition, you believe that you are fairly compensated.  Collectively, these elements provide an excellent foundation for evaluating additional opportunities, no matter what their form.

Here are some things that we would like to point out from the details that you provided, and the questions you should ask yourself:

1) Someone in my network is recruiting me:  Who is this person in your network and how well do you know them?  What is their vested interest in the situation?  Why do they believe that the opportunity is beneficial to you (and your career), as opposed to why you are good for the “new company’? Are they qualified to have a meaningful opinion about the matter?

2) A new subsidiary of an established local IT firm for SMB’s now branching out with government contracts:  How is the firm treating this subsidiary – as a separate entity or as a new business unit?  Is the established business able to support the new business if things do not go smoothly?  If so, for how long?  What does the firm know about doing business with the government?  Has anyone done business with the government on the executive team?  Why do they believe that they will be successful?  Are you convinced?

3) I have a young family to consider and this would be a neat opportunity for career growth (We’ll get to the money later): What does your spouse think of the opportunity?  Will you be required to work longer hours?  Travel more?  At this point in my life, can I afford a “neat opportunity?”

4) Bigger and better $$$:   What does bigger and better mean?  Will the $$$ change your life?  In what way?  How much more would you be able to save?  Are there any hidden costs (insurance, vacation, benefits)?

5) Focus on Cloud Computing:  Can you attain experience with cloud computing working in your current role?  What skills will you be able to develop in Cloud Computing?  Will these skills make a measurable impact in your career?  Are these new skills currently marketable inside your geography (location)?  Can you acquire this skill in a less risky way? 

6) General Questions:  Is this part of your career plan?  Do you have a career plan?  What is the greatest reason for accepting this role? For joining the company?  If the opportunity does not work out, how quickly could you find a role similar to the position you hold now (your ISO role)? 

As you can tell from the questions, there are many things to think about.  When looking at the questions, think about the ones that are most important to you.    Keep in mind, all of the questions will not be able to be answered with a complete degree of certainty.   When choosing a new opportunity, there is always going to be risk.  It is part of the excitement.  However as information security professionals we make our living managing risk, and measuring the consequences.  

Like all risk based decisions – the level of  reward has to equal or exceed the level of risk.

We are not going to tell you to accept the position or not (especially without all of the details).  This is your choice and a conclusion that you will need to personally determine.   

If you want to speak more in detail, please send an e-mail to us – and we can set up some time to speak.

Hope this helps,

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 

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