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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seeking Validation

I’m usually the first one in the office, so I’m alone when I boot up the computer. Scanning the inbox, an unusual name stands out from the dozens of unread emails. There is nothing particularly unusual about the name, a common spelling, and I know him as an affable intellectual and brilliant scientist, sitting high atop the org chart at the client company. But I should not be getting messages from him. I open it, quickly scan the contents…and I don’t believe it.

In my previous meiguo (american) job, there appeared little room for advancement. In a developmental conversation with my boss, he gave me honesty – one of his best characteristics. ‘Span of control’ emerged as the new re-organizational principle, no more scientific tract for career progression. Even a great scientist could not be promoted unless his managerial responsibilities increased commensurately, unless he had more people under his direction. In an era of decreasing head count, layoffs and mergers, reaching the next level would require doubling the size of my group…a dubious prospect at best.

At the same time, my peers possessed talent and I had access to the whole institutional knowledge of pre-eminent big pharma. I had good friends, a home I loved that I designed myself, a beautiful 20min walk for my commute and family in the area, a nice life. Was it the right decision the leave that good life behind?

My group size here exceeds greatly my former responsibilities and I’m running multiple projects. To reach this level in the US would have taken me another 10-15yrs…if ever! Quite a step up and much rides on our success. From a bottom line business perspective the new company depends upon continuous growth to meet revenue goals and please Wall Street, my client needs to prove their new business model works, and I need to prove to myself that I can handle the job and validate my difficult choice to come here. I crave personal redemption.

I re-read the email, slowly. “In less than 6mos, your group has made excellent progress and will expand by 40%; we will have over 35 chemists, congratulations on your work. We look forward to building more with you.” The projects are far from complete, there is much challenge ahead, but I will celebrate tonight.

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