Gone… but not Forgotten!

Did absence make the heart grow fonder?  Yes! I miss researching and writing these stories and I certainly miss hearing from and connecting to people back at home.

Did my actions speak louder than my words? Yes! Considering there were literally no words.

Was an idle brain the devil’s workshop? Wait… what?

No… I did NOT forget about my BLOG! I didn’t suddenly have nothing more to write about.  I also didn’t forget about the joy it brought me via connecting with you.

I require some kind of creation on a daily basis…. be it gardening, house reno projects, maker / electronics / smart home projects, taking pictures, telling stories, writing…. something / anything that I can imagine and produce and ultimately share in some way. This I’ve learned.

But a funny thing happened here in Oulu.

Let these pictures be worth 1000 words:

As it turns out, away from friends and family, away from pets and home, away from ‘normal life’, there is plenty of time.

I arrived back in Oulu early February and spent most of the month sick in bed. And in that vein, the world turned upside down in early March. Hard stop to my long walks, to my library visits, to meeting up after work for a glass of wine somewhere in city center (keskusta), to sightseeing weekend trips, to tagging along on company trips, to planning for visitors from elsewhere, etc…

As it also turns out, money doesn’t grow on trees. 

Side Note: if it did, Finns would be awash.  This beautiful country is 72% forest (higher than any other European country)!! Sadly, as many times as I’ve walked or cycled along forested paths while living here, I’ve not yet been successful at finding any money trees.

In summary, the combination of having time, needing to create, and wishing to replenish ye olde checking account… in conjunction with not being in the US (and thus unable to leverage my real estate license or other potential business ventures) culminated in a job search.  Why not!

It was with a mix of excitement and terror that I launched my search using tools from the UChicago Booth Re-Launch Program that I had attended in 2019, LinkedIn, and networking contacts. I spent much of March working on my Resume, my Cover Letter, my Pitch and my confidence.  How was it that I walked away from a successful telecom engineering and leadership career of 24 years!? And what exactly had I been doing for the past 8 years anyway?  Write it up, read it, review it, practice it.  Tie the flow together in an intelligent story that can quickly be shared. Tie the story to some kind of “why now?” “why Oulu?”.  Practice Q&A and being able to pivot to including something you want to share while seeming to answer their actual question.  Practice some more.  Revise cover letter.  Revise resume.  Lather Rinse Repeat.

Grateful for Tammy’s network introductions, in April I scored 3 interviews with 3 different companies here in the Oulu area. Everything was via Zoom or WebEx of course.  I refer to the clothing choice for those events as my ‘wardrobe mullet’, business on the top half, sweatpants & house slippers on the bottom. Research, prepare, practice, smile, chat, explain, answer, wait.

I ended up with 3 offers and selected the one that was a sort of ‘coming home’ for me.  Back at the company that had bought Motorola Cellular Infrastructure, back in telecom, back even with some former colleagues. And I have really (surprise) enjoyed it. On May 11, feeling like a kid on the first day back at school, I tentatively drove to my managers home, stood safely 2 meters away and received my new business laptop. I have been to the office here on only a handful of occasions, and I’ve quickly ramped back up with remote work corporate tools.

I am currently tasked with leading one of several ‘Transformation’ work streams within a 2000+ person organization spread across the globe, establishing the development environment paradigm called “Continuous Development / Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery” sometimes known as DevOps.  Its really an incredible advancement to Software Engineering practice. The idea that a developer presses enter on a code change and the environment / machinery rumbles to life and does all of the checks and compilations and builds and integrations and runs all of the required automated tests in all of the required radio hardware configurations, and when it all works as planned, automagically promotes the release to a central location and potentially even directly into one of our customers’ pre-deployment labs. Amazing.  Establishing this kind of development infrastructure and the accompanying processes is not a small effort, and trying to do it all while the developers are frantically trying to get product out the door is akin to a giant game of ‘Operation!’. Surgical additions and subtractions required. Plenty of buzzes along the way. 

Ultimately, I’m glad to be working and I’m gratified that it appears that my efforts are helping advance the goals of delivery predictability and product quality.

What in the world does any of this have to do with my BLOG?

Well, every ounce of my mental energy and creation energy and computer-facing time has been consumed with rejoining the corporate world.  I have pushed myself and my tasks hard for these past 4+ months…. My poor BLOG sat lonely in the corner waiting for the shine to wear off my new job.  Not that it has, but there are moments now that I see some daylight, and today I was able to actually write something, not just think fondly about doing so.

So… Don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Sometimes leaving something to one side for a while is quite simply necessary.

But…Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! If there was one thing that I learned in my 8 years away from Corporate Telecom life its that the job != me.  I need to continue to engage in other things, stay in some kind of contact with people that are important to me, create for me, not just for them, etc…  so I will.

Better late than never…  Hopefully I’m back at it.  Still a pile of Finland-related stories to share! (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step)

Thanks for tuning back in 😊

PS why all the old timey english proverbs? I work now in Finland, for a global company that is nearly completely run by people using English as a second (or third+!) language. The idea that individuals literally around the world from countless different countries and cultures can somehow communicate and collaborate to produce an incredibly complex radio product line is regularly astounding to me. English is a lingua franca for business here, and serves its purpose effectively. But engineers (of any origin) are sometimes known to be socially awkward creatures, and even when endowed with perhaps a higher than average IQ, may have a lower than average EQ. It’s not hard to imagine then that engineers using a non-native language tend to focus on work tasks and leave aside chit chat and humor that might otherwise be sprinkled into daily conversations. I have tried (and as yet have failed) to learn that my dry American humor falls 100% flat and sadly serves absolutely no purpose. I have missed the tiny spark of recognition and connection that a joke or shared cultural reference creates. And somehow when I started this particular BLOG post, my memory trotted out all of these old ‘sayings’, so I left them in. A stitch in time saves 9.

12 Replies to “Gone… but not Forgotten!”

  1. Yay, Karin.
    Glad to see you’ve put your priorities in order.
    Blog first.
    Life second.
    Don’t make us wait five more months.
    We miss you!!

  2. Karin, Always fine to have a hobby. The problem is when you have too many. Life, work, biking, family, friends, food, blog…. let me know when you figure out the balance. xoxo

  3. Glad to hear you found a job. That in itself is great! Now to find balance I think we all have that problem to some degree. Covid-19 has not helped with that. Take some deep breath’s and continue on.

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