The always-very-astute JP Rangasawmi has announced he is leaving DrKW to take over as CIO of Global Services at BT. Best of luck to JP with your new gig.
However, JP includes the following in his announcement blog post:
I’ve never worked for a competitor in my life, either by accident or design
I think this is not only admirable on one level, but also the sign of a very multiskilled individual. People end up working for competitors for all sorts of reasons – often either because they are tempted by money or because they are ‘stuck’ in a particular niche.
As far as my professional career goes, I’ve only ever been an employee of BBC so it’s certainly easier for me to also say I’ve never worked for a competitor. Mind you, the next questions comes “who is a competitor to the BBC?”. Sure, the likes of Channel 4 or ITV are – but what about Yahoo! or Google. On a certain level they could be construed as competitors to the BBC.
During the period when I was looking for opportunities after the BBC, I almost did go and work for a ‘direct competitor’ of the BBC. A significant competitor, certainly on a global level, in fact. The job was interesting, and er yes, the pay would have been v good. But I was very aware one of the reasons (maybe the main reason) they were interested in me was because of by BBC knowledge, and not necessarily for my personal competencies.
As a consultant I’m now aware that many of my clients could be competing with the BBC. However the great thing is that in the specific niche I work in, developer networks, new dev net propositions are not in competition with the BBC’s (or anyone else’s) but in sympathy. After all, every new developer network brings new API’s and feeds – ever increasing the size of the ecospehere from which we can mashup! I guess I’m lucky in that sense.
Would you work for a competitor to your current employer? Do you already work for a competitor to a former employer? What was the motivation behind the switch, and what are your views on the issue generally?
Like you, I’ve only worked for one company up until this year – even if it was for far, far, longer ;-). I ended up interviewing for a similar role for a similar company and declined further conversations as they wanted to set up a very similar operation to the one I was working in and I did not just want to repeat the job.
In the industry I’m dipping my toes in now, marketing/advertising. it seems to be nothing but a merry-go-round between competitors. A senior person moves between companies and brings their favourites with them. You see people with CVs full of all the same kind of companies.
I prefer to build a skillset that is transferable, that gives you more options than just the one industry.
I had my own small computer consultancy before moving to a large city for a dot.com dream. The dream died with the bust, and I went to work for a local consultancy. I had wanted to start my own consultancy again, but I did not have the established business relationships and my skills could use an upgrade. I worked at that company for a little over a year. With the knowlege of the company’s owner, I left to start my own consultancy. I even took a couple of clients with me (after discussing it with the clients and the owner), and the owner even let me use his company as an initial supplier and credit reference while growing my business.
Both of us realized that in a large city, there is plenty of room for competition. Competition can make companies stronger and better for the customers. Plus, by being friendly and open at the start, our companies are still “friendly competitors” today. Other people left that company on poor terms, and brought their bad feelings along with them. Those companies are now “direct competitors” that try to steal business from each other rather than develop new business.
Working for a competitor, like so much in life, can be a good or a bad thing. It all depends on the motivations and the personalities involved.
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