In October 2007, I left Universal McCann - which has since rebranded itself as UMWW - to join Microsoft Southeast Asia.
After 9 months, I returned to UM because I missed the frenetic, frantic pace of the advertising world - the late nights, the emails that need to be responded to within 24hours, the 'fire-fighting', the business pitches, the ideation and the interesting research projects which made a difference to clients.
I wrote about my departure in October 2007 in this entry.
My departure back then was somehow a bittersweet event: I was leaving a job that I loved, a team that I was impressed with, a network that was truly great and "genius and visionary". I was leaving a job where I was entrusted a piece of an experimental business unit that proved to be ahead of its time - and was, in spite of its being experimental, delivered significant contributions to the company, financially and reputation-wise.
In my farewell letter to the company then (which a colleague of mine unearthed from his inbox):
Anyway, I would like to thank you for the support that you have given me in the past, for believing in the value that my team and I could create and bring to your teams and to your clients, and simply, for the opportunity of working with you in seeking only the best for our clients and the brands they have entrusted unto us.
Thanks to the in-market teams across APAC, across EMEA, across the Americas for helping me and my team in our most challenging times – I cannot ask for a better network of planners, researchers, and insights-seekers. Thank you very much. Your genius will continue to amaze me - and I can only be thankful for the greatness that you are and have.
After another 18 months, I am leaving UM/mediabrands. Again.
People (including potential employers) will ask "You've been a 'job-hopper' - where is your commitment?"
I say, commitment is not measured in terms of the number of years or months or weeks or days - it is not measured by tenure.
Commitment is measured by how much one has contributed - or has desired to contribute - to the company. It is measured by how much one has gone beyond the call of duty to take on things that are new and scary - and emerge a better person for the organization.
Commitment is trudging on to deliver remarkable, great, and inspiring results to clients, to the company, to teams. Commitment is about looking for ways and means to help the company survive in the short- and mid-term, and secure its place for the future, whether that future included me or not.
Commitment is about protecting my team - my people - as budgets and overheads are cut, whilst at the same time working overtime - pedal to the metal - to create new revenue streams to save as many as we could.
I end this chapter of my life a better person - both professionally and personally.
I end this entry with Seth Godin's words -
And yet when we ask you to look people in the eye, be creative, brainstorm, be generous, find a way to satisfy an angry customer, work with a bully, learn a new skill or bring joy to work, suddenly the excuses pile up. Is this a different sort of work? Is raising your hand in class too much to ask of you?
The jobs most of us would like to have are jobs like this. And yet we put up a fight when given the chance to do them well.
Just for the record:
I was never asked.