Career Advice Tueday – “On The Road Again?”
December 6, 2011
About six months ago, I accepted an information security position that was presented to me with a 20-25% travel requirement. I felt that the position was a good match for me, as I would be able to use some of my past skills, and pick up some new experience in security technologies that included GRC and SIEM tools.
For the first three months of my new position, the travel requirement held true. I was traveling on average about five days away from home per month. In addition, a good bulk of the travel was geared toward attending training on the newer technologies. All was good.
However, in month four my new company won a large engagement to help a Fortune 500 client implement some of these new tools. The location is about two hours away from my home, so given the work hours it is impossible to commute on a regular basis. I find myself staying away from home – a minimum of three days a week – or about 60-70% of the time.
I reminded my manager who hired me about the discussion we had about the travel requirements and his response was less than satisfying. He told me that this was the only client that I could be placed on, and that if I did not want to travel – that I could commute, if I desired.
The long and short of it, is that although I like learning the new skills, I feel that I was lied to. Technically, they may be correct, and I do not have to “travel”, but in essence I feel they misrepresented the opportunity.
Being on the road for extensive time periods takes me away from my family, lessens my quality of life, and just does not work for me.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Dear Willie –
The best advice that I can give you is to use the job to pick up as many skills as possible, and begin to plan your exit strategy. The fact is that if you are building information security skills in the areas of GRC and SIEM technology, you are developing experience that has external market value that can serve as your parachute to new opportunity.
I will tell you (and others who are reading) that a big mistake for anyone going into a professional services environment or consulting environment is the illusions that you can limit your travel to less than 50% or that you can control the location of your future customers. The only exception to this would be is your consulting position enables you to do a bulk of your work remotely – like penetration testing.
The nature of the professional services business is client service. Clients dictate the engagements and they dictate the requirements. Your main value to your employer is your utilization and chargeability. In the end, if you are restricted in your ability to travel, and this is the only work where you can be utilized, you are placing yourself in an unsustainable situation, which will not end happily.
Getting back to your situation Willie, I think that your manager reaction is the real indicator of the company’s attitude about your request to reduce your travel. From what you have shared this is not a battle that you can win.
In the end, when accepting a new position it is essential that you understand all of the requirements that can effect your quality of life – commute, travel, compensation, work hours – and the personal sacrifices you are willing to undertake in order to perform the position requirements correctly.
Hope this helps,