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Jumping Ship from the IT world

Tony Bateman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 21, 2005
Posts: 36
Hi,

I recently just quit from a major multinational corporation because I didn't like the policy of job cutbacks in Europe and simultaneous heavy recruitment in other areas of the world. I quit after the current round of layoffs by personal choice, was not asked to leave (in fact was asked NOT to leave), and handed my stock options back to them. I understand the business motivation but find the lack of consideration for the effect on local community unethical.

I am an SAP consultant and certified developer as first profession, and am now working on gaining Java knowledge to supplement this. I made a career switch about 5 years ago from the world of semiconductor engineering. I was a process/yield engineer with DEC and some other smaller companies, and then worked in the MEMS(Micromachined silicon)industry for a while.

There was a time when I found the IT world stimulating, but this has now been overshadowed by the constant worry of losing my job to the lowest bidder. I have moved to a small consultancy company but the big corporations are ruthlessly trying to acquire market share and squeeze out the smaller players in the market.

So I am considering jumping ship from the IT profession. Life is too short to waste on worrying about the effects/risks of offshoring. But before I do that, I have a few questions to ask:

1) Do you think that there will always be work available at the local level for skilled individuals? I am english but live in Finland and can speak reasonably good finnish. However, most Finns speak excellent english so the language advantage may not be a factor.

2) I am a technical person, and wonder what the next field to move into could be. Problem is, it seems that all technical jobs could go to cheaper contries with a skilled workforce, so is there any point in staying in the technical area at all?

3) Has anybody worried about the effect of globalism on local community ever thought about the possibility of Guild Socialism? This is NOT the same as Socialism per se, but may be a way to wrest some degree of power away from the multinationals and back to the local level. It was highly regarded by Bertrand Russell, a great British philosopher, as a way to create true democracy (See "Proposed Roads to Freedom" by Bertrand Russell for more information). I don't want to discuss this in great detail, but merely ask: are there people out there sick and tired of the problems that multinationals are causing at local level and would be prepared to do something about it?

My thoughts are creating guilds at the local level (e.g. a guild of IT consultants) would encourage local trade as much as possible by preferentially working with local companies and other local guilds. By preferential I mean lower rates and higher priority.

If you have any thoughts or feelings on these three issues, please respond!

Tony.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
These are often debated topics here. The issue of outsourcing is on everyone's mind. The ida of a guild was popular a few years back--many people were calling for a union--but I haven't seen much talk of it lately.

As I have agrued before there will be plnty of IT jobs in local markets. However, the successful IT folks will be the ones who aren't just technical but can also understand the business problems and communicate with non-technical people. You can't outsource someone who needs to regularly meet with local people (customers, marketing, sales, etc).

I fail to see how guilds would help? Mayb I don't get it, but you seem to be saying pople join guilds and then interguild trade is done at reduced rates? Maybe it's just because I'm a free marketer, but I would think an open market would produce the best rates. If you're worried about losing jobs to cheaper labor nations, then forming a guild won't help, because it won't reduce the needed wages of the local IT workers. If you're talking about better bargaining power, good luck. I don't think it's in the interest of top developers to join a union because, unlike assembly line jobs in which physical limiations cap the productivity of the bst workers, we have a 10:1 ratio (cf Peopleware) between the best and worst and the union won't be able to get the top rate for everyone (nor do we have simple tests or experince metrics to distinguish who is who). In the US w are seeing not only a decline of unions but also cases where it is the union (and grante, this is an opinion) bsinkinga MNC (e.g. auto industry). But I may not understand your point.

--Mark
TonyM
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 31, 2000
Posts: 9
Tony,

I found your post interesting because I jumped the IT ship about 3 years ago. I was working in Europe for a large international bank as a developer, however I wanted to return to the US so I quit but upon my return found the US IT market completely changed (i.e. no hiring due to outsourcing, colleagues laid-off, etc.) Fortunately, I have other business skills and am making an equivalent salary. I've also returned to pursuing my *real* career as a screenwriter.

I find the entire outsourcing phenomena an insult to local developers and am glad to be out of IT although I really do miss my days of coding and learning new languages and technologies (I surfed over to Javaranch out of nostalgia). Even in France where I was working, outsouring is taking its toll on local developers though the threat is not from India/China so much as it's from Romania and Hungary.

In answer to your three questions:

1. There was a report on cable news the other day saying that some corporations were not seeing as deep a savings by outsourcing as orginally thought. However, for the most part, I think IT outsourcing is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, which may be the reason the media is reporting that enrollment in CS programs in US universities is on the decline.

2. If I were still in IT or related fields, I'd want to own my own business, possibly by way of developing the next killer application or some new software or technology which would impact how some aspect of business is done.

3. Guilds are a good idea however I think it would take way too long (if ever) to change the way companies conduct business at present.

Anyway, good luck in whatever you choose to do.
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
Thanks for the exelent idea about Guild Socialism Toni !

It would be truly great if such a thing was posible, we can only hope. It would give power back the Developer, and we would start to be considered profesionals once again. Headhunters and placement agencys will lose out.

However with the way the market works it might not be possible. Business people control this industry. Big comanys who hold all the contracts like IBM would make it very difficult.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
"TonyM",

Welcome to JavarRanch.

Please look carefully at official naming policy at Javaranch & reregister yourself with proper first & last name, with a space between them. Please adhere to official naming policy & help maintain the decorum of the forum. The naming policy can be found at http://www.javaranch.com/name.jsp

--Mark
Tony Bateman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 21, 2005
Posts: 36
Thanks for some interesting observations!

Regarding Marks reply concerning the Guild system, I thought that I could elaborate my thoughts on the matter a little more.

There are likely to be small consultancy firms in any given area, as well as the big fish. These small companies sometimes find that they have a project coming up for which they need some additional resources perhaps in specialist areas.

I thought of using the guild as a means by which guild members could be contacted (by means of a guild web site for instance) to see who would be available at certain times in order to be able to become a member of that project. These guild members may be working for other small local companies, but there is an agreement between the companies that members in a guild can be freely exchanged when they have low workloads. Benefit: increased utilisation and effective sharing of skills that benefits all parties.

I am not inclined to think of a guild in terms of a unionised entity, because I believe that a true guild would have no such need. Unions organise against a perceived oppressor, and in a guild there shoudn't be one.

The purpose of a guild is to redress the problem in society that has plagued capitalism, communism, and just about any other societal organisation - greedy driven individuals take control of the system and end up exploiting it for their own needs. In fact, a very interesting recent article on the web showed that there are many CEOs with psychopathic personality profiles and that these personalities empowered them to get to the top rung of the power ladder. Here's the link if you are interested:

Is your Boss a Psychopath?

The only way to stop this from happening in any organisation is to distribute responsibility democratically and evenly, in such a way that power is transparent and an individual is unable to wield more than his/her fair share.

I am absolutely sure that there will be problems with guilds to address. For sure we are not all equal, and how do we sort out the more qualified individuals from the less and reward accordingly? However, there are plenty of positive aspects that I can see and are worth considering:

1) Guild members are more in control of their own business and should be more motivated as a consequence.

2) Guild members set their own guild policy.

3) With the advent of the internet, democratic institutions are easier to establish. Voting and discussions of important issues are easier to organise with the advent of modern technology; something that the original proponents of guilds would have surely seen the benefits of. Want to discuss where to invest the profits of the guild? Vote on it. How much to give back to the guild members? Discuss and vote on it.

4) For the same reason, it should be possible to minimise the impact of the power grabbers on the guild - in fact I would go so far as to say that they would find such an organisation unappealing simply because of the difficulty in accruing power.

5) The local infrastructure can be exploited between guilds. Hypothetical example: a local guild of software developers can choose to buy their necessary servers not from a large multinational, but from a smaller local supplier from the guild of hardware retailers. The guild of software developers agree to deliver the guild of hardware retailers a needed software solution (e.g. hardware inventory system) for a reduced fee, in return for receiving hardware at a reduced fee.

I hope that this serves to illustrate my reasoning behind such a proposal. I just wanted to give people an opportunity to think that maybe we don't have to accept the ruthless unethical behaviour of the multinationals and greedy corporate CEOs.

As a final point, I want to state that this discussion is in no way intended to be an implicit slur against and race or continent currently enjoing the benefits of offshoring. In fact, these are the people who should also wake up an consider the alternatives to the globalisation onslaught; when it suits the multinationals they are going to clear off from a region and move to another without a second thought to the damage that they will do by abandoning these people.

- Tony.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I still don�t see the benefit.

Items 1-4 aren�t benefits; you�re simply saying, "thanks to modern technology guild operations are easier to democratize." I agree with you, but starting an organization because you can isn�t a justification.

The only external implication is item 5. Small guilds can help each other out. I wonder what Walmart has to say about that? Seriously, I don�t need them. Most of my companies use firms like Administaff who get volume discounts on hardware, software, and a plethora of services. The market need is already being filled. This isn�t to say that new or better services can�t be offered, just a guild, as you�ve described it so far, isn�t a quantum leap above existing offerings.

BTW, capitalism has never been plagues by greed. In fact, without greed, capitalism wouldn�t work; one of the tenants of capitalism is that people are greedy and act in self-interest. The trick is to create rules and systems that harness greed for societal good and at the same time prevent harmful behavior. An exchange is a good example, as people�s desire for profit allows liquidity of financial instruments. However, if you don�t have a rule preventing insider trading however, it can be very harmful.

If this is something your seriously going to pursue, I strongly recommend you check out prior attempts like Webmasters Guild to see what worked and what didn't.

I did like the article. :-)

--Mark
Tony Bateman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 21, 2005
Posts: 36
Hi Mark,

If you don't see the benefits of points 1-4 then I think we have a different take on the human condition In any case I respect your opinion but respectfully disagree and let the points stand for themselves.

Actually, points 1-4 say far more than the take of "thanks to modern technology guild operations are easier to democratize." They also mention motivation, fairness and resilience to corruption.

You might not need a small guild, and that's fine. The point is, small guilds may be able to help each other break out of the current trend towards globalisation and centralisation. That would depend upon how positive the interaction between the guilds became.

As for you comment regarding the tenets of capitalism, well I have to say that the checks and balances currently in place don't seem to be doing a very good job of reigning in the damage caused to society in the outright pursuit of greed, woudn't you agree?

I'll leave it to another article to point out what happens when the forces of capitalism are left to themself:

Has Capitalism gone too far?

The other articles are also interesting.

Thanks for your response. Discussion appreciated.

- Tony.
Prem Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 30, 2005
Posts: 189
I agree with Tony....

Imagin if I worked for a huge corp and I said "your not paying me a good wage, I quit" then they replied you cant get another job in this field, we own all the IT shops in the country.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tony Bateman:
If you don't see the benefits of points 1-4 then I think we have a different take on the human condition


Oh, I think points 1-4 are fantatic. My masters thesis was the first practical, online, fully secure software based voting system. My point is that saying "thanks to technology we can create a fair/democratic/well-run/etc group" is not a justification for a group in and of itself. It merely says, if we had a good reason to do it, it can be well run. I'm still looking for the reason to do it in the first place.

It's like saying, thanks to tchnology I could build a really cool raft. But unless you like travling on them, or selling them, or looking at them, or even the process of building them, there's not reason to, despite bing able to do it well. Points 1-4 fall into this category.

Originally posted by Tony Bateman:

As for you comment regarding the tenets of capitalism, well I have to say that the checks and balances currently in place don't seem to be doing a very good job of reigning in the damage caused to society in the outright pursuit of greed, woudn't you agree?


I see capitalism like democracy, so with appologies to Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst form of market structure except for all the others that have been tried.

--Mark
 
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