Sad ending and exciting beginnings
As of July 23rd I am no longer gainfully employed by Jones & Stokes. It was a long process that led to this event. The most important driving factor in this chain of events was that my families’ allergies were terrible in the Sacramento valley. Moving from this area couldn’t happen through Jones & Stokes and so I had to look outside.
First question from some people is going to be “How could you leave ecology after all the glowing posts you gave”. I loved the chances I got to do field work and to talk conservation biology shop with my colleagues. The problem was that I was too expensive for my level of expertise in NorCal flora and fauna. While I am good at field work and know a few things about deserts and birds – most of my ecological experience is as a landscape ecologist. My billable rate was too high to really make it feasible for me to get out in the field that often. I would suppose this is actually close to academia, where the higher up the food chain you go the less time you get to spend outside. So in the end I didn’t get to do that much field work.
Some of you may want to know if I left because I didn’t like Jones & Stokes. This is an easy question for me – I can say without hesitation say that I think J&S is one of the best natural resources consulting firms out there. I really liked almost everyone I worked with. They generally treat their employees with respect. The work is, on balance, interesting and ecology in the real world. When I started looking outside J&S I did not even think about working for a different consulting firm.
I think once I realized I couldn’t stay with J&S I started to think what I did and did not like about being in the consulting world. The biggest problem for me was the whole billable hours thang. While my goal was not that high there were several consequences of the system I did not like.
The first problem was that no matter how many hours you worked if you didn’t meet your billable goals it doesn’t matter. So if I was working 60 hours a week trying to roll out a new service or investigating something that had to be done to take our GIS practice to another level, it wouldn’t count. I mean it would count in that my supervisor would note the extra effort, but it was all secondary to making your billable hours goal.
Second, to insure that I had enough billable hours I had to take on more than I could do, thereby insuring that I would have enough hours if a project got halted or changed direction. This was an uncomfortable position for me to be in and I am not sure I could have grown used to it over time. I don’t think any of these things were particular to Jones & Stokes but are more a fact of the consulting business.
The next logical question in the series is – what am I doing now and for that I will tell the name of the company and my position title. I am now the technology evangelist for deCarta in sunny San Jose, CA. There will be a posting in the near future talking about why I chose deCarta, what I will be doing, and my goals. On of the plus side (or the downside for you if you don’t like my writing) is that I will be blogging now as part of my “official” duties. I am really psyched about my new position and I want my next post do it justice. Then again – putting the weight of doing justice on a post is a sure fire way to make it months before it gets written.
I would write more but I am finding it hard to find time to get the thoughts together. We still don’t have a place to live in San Jose or Oakland/Berkley. This lack of a very basic foundation in life – along with trying to get up to speed in a new position, is consuming most of my mental energy. If you know of a nice 3+ bdrm, 2+ bath house that takes dogs in either the willow glen/cambrian area in San Jose or in a nice safe neigborhood in Oakland or Berkely please let me know.