29 April 2022
tl;dr: Solidify, a Sweden-headquarted consulting company, is creating a US division, and they've asked me to build it out. Hence, I am announcing the foundation of Solidify/US, a software development consulting company with deep expertise in DevOps (AzureDevOps and GitHub) and a focus on helping companies maximize their software development efforts.
It's been an interesting road since Rocket Mortgage and I parted ways back in October. I've interviewed with a number of companies, some big and some small, some product-focused and some consulting, and kept finding something missing in each. In many cases, they chose not to move forward with the process, and a few of those genuinely stung--I could see some potential in those. It's hard, going through the interview cycle, particularly at the more senior executive levels of roles I was trying to reach for. Some companies were name-recognizable, others were companies nobody (including myself) had ever heard of. CTO roles, VP roles, a few Director roles, and every once in a while a recruiter tried to talk me into being an individual-contributor-Architect again or an IC Developer Advocate. A quarter of them, I turned away; the rest, either it wasn't a great fit (culturally or financially), or they chose to go a different way.
Some rejection was expected--hell, more than one of them was a long-shot "what the hell" kind of exercise--but it begins to wear down on you after time.
Then, around the Feb/Mar timeframe, I connected with these guys out of Sweden who were asking if I had any interest in joining up with them to do some consulting, particularly around DevOps and GitHub. In particular, they said, they were long-time Microsoft partners, with a great relationship with the Microsoft Sweden field office, and wanted to explore the idea of opening an office in the US to better serve customers (and hopefully break into the much bigger market!) here.
See, I'd done the consulting company founder thing before, with iTrellis, and while I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing it, I had reached the conclusion that I didn't really want to join into another consulting company again unless it was at a pretty senior level, where I could make use of (and follow through on) a number of the things I had learned about organization design from my time at RM. Other consulting companies had talked about "maybe someday" being able to indulge me in taking ownership of things like onboarding, mentoring, and other talent development kinds of activities, but for now, could I put in some billable hours? Several small groups and I spoke, but couldn't find the senior-level fit (usually financially). Some larger consulting groups were interested, but didn't hire in anybody above a senior consultant level--I'd have to "prove my worth" and internally promote to get to the levels I was interested in.
Solidify was different--they were asking me to essentially own the US side of things, with their backing and support, and with the idea that if things go well, Solidify/US and Solidify/Europe would be mutually self-supporting partners. Obviously for the first engagement or two, I'd probably need to be at least a little billable, but as soon as was reasonable, I'd be looking to grow the business rather than "doing the work".
It quickly became apparent that if I did this, it'd be like spinning up a consulting company from scratch, but with the resources and connections of an established group to help with the bootstrapping and smooth over some of the rough patches.
As it turns out, some of my friends and speaker circuit colleagues are neck-deep in GitHub activities, working specifically to help grow the GitHub community--the very same space in which I'd be looking to create connections and find clients. In other words, I'd get a chance to work closely with some folks that I deeply respect, admire, and enjoy. While partnering with a CEO and CTO in Sweden who are both quite delightful people to talk to, I'm discovering. It doesn't hurt either that Magnus and Mathias and I are of the same mind on a number of important points--like billable-hours targets not being 110%, like an emphasis on growing juniors into mid-level and seniors, like putting company time and resources behind ongoing training and development, like engaging with developer communities and speaking at developer conferences....
And, as I thought about it all, to top it all off, now is a really interesting time to be a software developer: AI/ML is often a key centerpiece of many IT strategies yet it's still cordoned off from the general software development pipeline, budget, and strategy; data engineering is often now expected to be a full partner in the development of software yet nowhere does it appear on a DevOps roadmap; DevOps itself is struggling to figure out how to incorporate other silos (like Product or Support, to the left and the right of the DevOps space on the timeline) into the mix even as InfoSec keeps popping its head up every so often to point out when another company got hacked; all this in a time when "low-code"/"no-code" tools keep capturing the interest of "the C suite" and upper-echelon executives even as companies look to hire more and more "full stack" developers who apparently need to know everything about everything....
Is there really any way I say no to this?
Fast-forward to now, and here we are: Solidify/US is in the process of being built out--we're meeting with prospective clients, signing agreements (through Europe at the moment, until Solidify/US has its paperwork ducks in a row), and before too long, I'll be out looking for new clients and new consultants.
If you've an interest in consulting, with an eye towards DevOps (but frankly, I don't see that as the limit to what we do) and an emphasis on the GitHub ecosystem and the Azure platform, you might want to drop me a note over email or on LinkedIn sometime in Q3 or Q4 of this year.
If your company is struggling to try and make sense of all these new forces in software development, and you could use with a partner to help you sort out what matters vs what's hype, and how any of these forces affect your current plans and pipelines... well, I'd love to talk to you.
Should be an interesting journey.
Last modified 29 April 2022