VMworld 2019 Roundup: Day 1

VMworld 2019 Logo

On your marks, get set…

Sunday kicks off the first set of activities for many VMworld conference goers. You get registered, grab your backpack, and eagerly await the Welcome Reception, perhaps taking in a hands-on lab while you do. Based on the fast, smooth registration process, it looks like VMworld’s really getting the hang of some of the conference minutia. This bodes well for the week ahead.

Off to a Running Start

First things first, for me anyway, was the Bridge2Bridge 5k race. We ran / jogged / walked from the Ferry Building near the Bay Bridge, along the edge of the bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We 5k’ers stop about 2/3 of the way there, but the brave 12k’ers continue up near the base of the Golden Gate and back again.

I didn’t post my best time, but it was a heck of a route with great views and I’m satisfied to say that I finished within about 10% of my typical time. It was also fun rocking the conference exclusive #vFit t-shirt. Both things, the race and the shirt, support great causes. The former supports the Special Olympics of Northern California, and the latter supports mentoring in the tech community.

I do hope that VMworld considers hosting their own 5k fun run for next year, as they’ve done in year’s past.

Opening Acts

The sixth annual Opening Acts tackled topics relating to employment. All three panels took on slightly different ideas, but they all dovetailed nicely together. Here are some of what I found to be key takeaways. Questions and responses are paraphrased.

  • Q: What should someone do to move their career forward?
    • Work backwards from where you want to be in five years, and figure out how to get there.
    • Leverage recruiters at the larger tech companies so that you don’t end up in the applicant “black hole”. You have a better chance at an interview than applying alone.
    • Get in front of changing tech. Read, learn, talk to others. Consider the book The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen.
    • Embrace automation of your tasks / area of responsibility in order to position yourself for future career opportunities.
  • What is tech growing?
    • Try to move above the tech while staying with the tech.
    • Don’t be a CAVE person (citizens against virtually everything).
    • Put in a little learning every day, and like an interest-bearing savings account, it will compound and grow.
    • Look for and fill in the gaps within your own team and area.
    • Campaign for improvement at work. If (when) you get push back, considering replying with something like “sure we could hire someone, but what happens when they leave?”
  • What talked about technology is just hype?
    • Nothing is pure hype, but watch out for statements like “will replace everything“.
  • How long should you stay in a job?
    • As long as it’s still the right job for you.
    • Work culture is very important. If you have a mismatch with the culture at your employer, try to make changes and exert influence or consider other employment.
  • What’s the number one thing to consider when accepting a job offer?
    • Know how much money do you actually need to pay bills, afford family stuff, and deal with life. Consider this your “basement” salary requirement. Anything below it doesn’t work.
    • You basically have one chance at negotiating your salary, so do it. Don’t trust someone saying “take this salary now and we’ll fix it during your first review”.
    • Negotiate not only your salary, but your vacation and sick days as well (and always!).
    • Talk to people who do what you do to learn how much you are worth.
    • The hiring manager likely doesn’t want to start over with another candidate after investing in you so far, so make sure you negotiate. They’ll probably willing to try to accommodate you (just don’t go overboard).
    • The candidate is the one who often presents their salary expectations first.
    • Never answer salary history questions. Respond with, “my employer does not allow me to discuss information about my job”.
    • Remember that startup equity is worthless unless the startup has a good exit. Treat equity as gravy. Don’t compromise your “basement”.
    • Walk away from offers with stock vestments of greater than four years.
    • Stock options still have to be purchased by the employee, so take that into account, and if you have options don’t forget the exercise them.
    • At a startup you can negotiate the triggers for vesting stock.
    • Before accepting a job offer, make sure you ask for and review the company benefit policies.
    • Remember that working from home has financial benefits. That’s less miles you’re putting on your car, less wear-and-tear, etc.
    • Considering keeping six months’ worth of salary in a “screw you” account, just in case. This can give you a cushion if things go bad.

As always the Opening Acts panels and crew do an amazing job. There was lots of good advice and info to be had. Thanks all!

Welcome Reception

The Solutions Exchange Welcome Reception was the mad rush of excited tech enthusiasts it always is. It’s not necessarily the best time to have an in-depth technical conversation with vendors. More of an opportunity to whet your appetite for future returns to the vendor space. There are always a few smaller booths around the fringes with something a bit different on offer, so be sure to visit more than the just the big players. Those smaller booths can be interesting, are small enough to be a bit more personal, and with any luck may end up one of the big players at future events.

Sunday Soirées

A pair of Sunday evening events spent meeting and chatting with folks were on my agenda. First up was the VMUG Member Party at Spin, a table tennis bar. It was an interesting venue, and actually seemed to have a bit more breathing room than the VMUG Vegas parties. It was nice to see folks having fun volleying ping pong balls back and forth, and I’m pretty sure at one point Michael Dell even tried his hand at a game.

Next was #VMunderground 2019, Opening Act’s big sister event. There were lots of good conversations to be had and people to catch up with.

Wrap Up

Tomorrow’s got the session-filled goods. First up will be the General Session, which will set the topic tone for the rest of the week. I’ll be live blogging the General Session, so make sure to tune in!

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He was awarded VMware vExpert for 2014-2019. You can find him on Twitter.

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