"What other types of roles/jobs could I move to with less
travel & stress, where my SE skills are transferable to some
degree or that isn't a step back in a career path? I have a
medical issue that needs continual treatment. I realize that
I might take a pay cut, but don't want to go back to my past
"I've been an SE for 12 years and have now gone as far as I
wish to in my career. It's time for something else to
chllenge me. Other than moving into sales, what are some
typical post-SE roles I should be looking at?"
(This type of question, or a variation of it, is a very common one I
am asked at many workshops or seminars. Thought it was time to
put some thoughts together)
Hello Senior and Accomplished SE,
Thanks for the question. This is a very common question
and yet a difficuly decision for many SE's. Statistically, about
30% of SE's go into management at some point in their
career. Another 25% stay put and just climb the ranks to end
up with a title such as a Master, Principal or Distinguished
Engineer, and the remaining 45% move on outside the
The two questions above attack the issue from slightly
different angles. If you're tired of the travel, and have
issues with stress or trying to raise a family etc. one option
might be to move into an inside SE role. You then spend
your time during remote calls, demos and presentations.
Although its often thought of as a more junior role, it really
isn’t, and many companies (like Oracle) have incredibly
senior SE’s who work just on the phone and also mentor
A second option if you still wish to stay within the SE
organization might be to create your own position.
Depending on company size and SE structure there may be
a need for a Presales Operations Manager, RFP Co-
Ordinator or Training & Enablement Manager. Be creative!
When moving outside the SE team the #1 obvious place is
Sales. That is a position well suited for some SE's (see "So
You Really Want To Be A Salesrep?") but certainly isn't for
everyone as the sucess rates are not that high. Next on the
list would be:
Product Management. Go take charge of one of the
products that ou currently "sell". Who better to see all
sides of the issues around sales, presales,
competition, functionality and positioning?
Product Marketing. Same as above but go apply your
creativity to the marketing side of the house.
Support. The background of sales and practical
knowledge is priceless. Not in answering the phones,
but in being a high-level "fixer and facilitator" for
strategic or troubled accounts. (This may not reduce
your stress though!)
Technical Account Manager. You are responsible for
everything (except direct sales) for 2-3 key accounts.
I've also seen SE's move over into Services to be the
builder and generator of content, and also into the Partners
Being a successful SE provides you with a tremendously
broad background with an ability to blend together many
skills and apply them to most job functions. It's no
coincidence that more Divisional General Managers of
technology companies have presales rather than sales in