Leaving a company

I left a company for the first time last week. I've had plenty of jobs in the last 9 years, but I expect this is the first one that will stay on my CV indefinitely. There are certain things from the last two years, and from the last two weeks, that are worth reflecting on. Let's start at the end.


The exit interview was probably the most useful thing I did for the company in my last few weeks. In fact I did two, I was such a good employee. First I ranted at my manager for a couple hours, then feeling much better I had a very chilled chat with one of the founders. Hopefully both were useful. I'm grateful for people giving me the time to talk through my thoughts about the company.

I left on really good terms to go study more, and I'm still excited about the what the company can achieve. What the exit interviews made me realise is how constrained I am at work most of the time. I think this is a good thing, but I couldn't come up with a more positive word to descirbe it. It means I'm thinking before I speak, and not picking unimportant battles. It's taken me a few years to figure out when and how to speak constructively at work, and how to collaborate well with others, to put my full effort behind ideas that are not my own, and different from what I would have chosen. However, it also made me realise how many thoughts I had about the company, its direction, priorities and culture.

I didn't need or want to be involved in strategy decisions on a weekly basis, and I don't pretend to have known the majority of things going on at the company, but I still had big picture ideas to contribute. Just like I didn't know everything going on at the company, the people focussing on strategy, management and selling can't possible know the effects of all their decisions. I had a pretty open workplace, that was supportive and got the importnat things right. And yet I still feel like I would have walked out the door with a ton of useful information if I hadn't been able to rant freely at my manager for a couple hours. It also help me feel unburdened, and much more able to appreciate what a good job it had been. Exit interviews just seem a great idea for both employee and company.


I learned far too much in the last two year to summarise here: a lot of technical skills and far more personal skills than I would have ever predicted.

If I'd stayed at the company I think some of my goals would have been to become easier to manage, and to take on more ownership of projects. I know I was not always easy to manage, and I feel very lucky to have had such excellent mentors. Hopefully I was slightly better to work with as a peer. I certainly cared a lot about my colleagues, and about learning from them and looking out for them.

Instead I chose a new challenge, because I wanted to focus narrowly on technical skills. I don't think maths and computing skills will be the most important ones for achieving important things, but I have to choose the order in which I learn skills, and stacking technical skills towards the start of my career seems a good bet to me.

Hopefully with this note to self I can remember the lessons I still have to learn, and would have had the chance to learn if I had stayed at the company. I want to learn to be easy to manage, to own projects, and be the guy you want on the toughest challenges.


For my own sake, I thought I'd note down a couple of the notes from my 'ta-ta for now' card (which don't have personal details), and which I really appreciated:

It was a pleasure working with you. I hope we work together again in the future.

You have saved the team, and kept the spirits up in so many different projects and situations. Keep being a great man in your future life! With respect and admiration.

p.s. Posting this a while after writing it, I checked in on the company's core product, which I'll probably keep using when studying. It's really impressive! I feel like more impressed now than when I was as an employee. If any colleagues are reading: Well done! And thanks.