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Very Sad Story, 55 And Washed Up


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The other side of that story is when the good engineer refuses to become a mediocre and unhappy manager, leaving the mediocre engineer to become the mediocre manager instead. There's nowhere in the system for him[1] to go. If he's not 'progressed' to a suit-and-powerpoint job by 30, he's on the scrapheap as far as UK PLC is concerned.

Result: good engineers under the rule of bad managers. Both despise each other: the manager sees the engineer as a junior bod apprenticed to the managerial job; the engineer sees the manager as an idiot. Disaffected engineers.

That's the classic setup that leads to big IT disasters. The people who can sell to governments or banks are incompatible with the people who can develop the systems they sell. They despise each other. It becomes self-fulfilling: only the bad engineers, and new grads for at most a couple of years, will work for those managers.

The Peter principle indeed. I quite like the Scott Adams version (the Dilbert principle) - only the worst engineers ever get promoted as the good ones are too valuable doing what they're doing for the company to move them. I couldn't agree more with your analysis though, and I don't understand why so few organisations get it.

It's also one of the big drivers for Open Source: engineers getting together to produce something good and worthwhile that is denied them under the yoke of the Suits.

Yes, I actually use this as proof when people try and tell me that software development is just some kind of process based thing. It's not, it's an art, and no-one would waste their spare time doing it for free if it wasn't.

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I am not surprised there are people out there struggling a lot but I am surprised by just how bleak this man paints it. I can't help but think there's more to his story...

Absolutely. See my post at the end of page 6 that no one responded to. I'm not that far off the mark am I? :)

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I think the problem here is that this guy's lack of job is being viewed in isolation. It's clear from listening to him that he has a number of other problems. These might be:-

- Lack of a cohesive social structure, i.e. a sense of belonging

- Regret at not having met that "special someone" and fear of growing old alone. Probably coupled with the baggage of some extremely painful relationships

- Feeling like he is a "loser" in society because others seem to have much more, even those apparenty less "bright".

The above being somewhat cyclical thought processes that may be are not doing him any favours.

There are very real problems with the job market and he's unfortunately at the brunt end of them. Some people will never be good in sales, marketing or really any job that is more based on social skills than strategic and/or technical ones. In many countries this would not be an issue, however in ******** Britain it's another matter. Skills with smoke and mirrors, or just plain brown mist will get you very far and ensure well remunerated and continued employment.

So the guy probably wants an honest job that uses his intellect rather than selling out and becoming a walking piece of plastic. Is that really so bad? I feel for him, I really do. Not to say I wouldn't do things differently if I was in his position, but I can see exactly how he got there.

Perhaps he's not the practical type so suggestions like "learn a trade" would be useless. I know plenty who can barely hammer a nail without serious injury, let alone anything more complicated.

I think the real issue is this: We have a fundamentally imbalanced jobs market where so many functions of commerce have now been moved overseas that there is a disproportionate skew towards soft skills. In an environment like this, there will always be big losers. Maybe this guy just needs to realise this, stop dwelling on what won't happen and live a more positive life. He'll only get one after all and despite what is going on in his head, there is a whole world out of possibilities there that he would have never even considered.

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The Peter principle indeed. I quite like the Scott Adams version (the Dilbert principle) - only the worst engineers ever get promoted as the good ones are too valuable doing what they're doing for the company to move them. I couldn't agree more with your analysis though, and I don't understand why so few organisations get it.

Yes, I actually use this as proof when people try and tell me that software development is just some kind of process based thing. It's not, it's an art, and no-one would waste their spare time doing it for free if it wasn't.

Plenty of truth in this point.

I have also seen instances where the best IT engineers are essentially taken 'prisoner' by ambitious managers who exploit them to further their own careers. They then effectively block the engineers advancement for fear of losing them as a resource. It is quite insidious to see this in practise and sometimes the victims dont know they are being taken for a ride particularly if they are being kept busy solving real world technical problems which is the job many IT engineers like most of all. You could blame the engineers for not taking on the suits but the truth is that it is a game many cant or wont play.

Having come to IT relatively late after a decade in another completely unrelated job I have to say it is an area with an unsually large number of appalling and useless managers who would simply not survive in other types of business

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Having come to IT relatively late after a decade in another completely unrelated job I have to say it is an area with an unsually large number of appalling and useless managers who would simply not survive in other types of business

is this a general thing (related to IT as a whole) or is it relating to those who rose on the back of the IT wave from the 90s onwards I wonder?

I have noticed a general sense of rejection of the established sys ******** methods established from the 1960 onwards, followed by predictable project-disaster, on many occasions

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Yes, I actually use this as proof when people try and tell me that software development is just some kind of process based thing. It's not, it's an art, and no-one would waste their spare time doing it for free if it wasn't.

Agreed it is a highly creative process. The problem is you eventually have done everything. I have done web work, written unix drivers and kernel work, written all sorts of apps, written commerical tools for other developers, highly distributed systems, front office trading systems etc. The new tech may not be the same, but it rhymes. I have seen it all before, its just theme and variations. Every time I did a project I would get so into it time would fly by and I got older. Look up, another 6 months had passed. Then, one day, I just stopped. Not a conscious decision. Just wasn't interested any more. It was like playing chess (which I was also rather good at, then just stopped). I wasn't growing any more. It was just repetitive. I miss the income, but I have more piece of mind. The problem with IT is that you put all your mental energy into it. You could be using that for something else. Learning things more useful or useless. Instead of learning some library of function calls, you could have learned a foreign language (comme j'ai). You could have learned things you could sell till your death. It's fun whilst you are still seeking experience, still learning, but eventually you are a master and it's time to move on and do something else. Some of you may have already realised, you are actually just the modern day version of the filing clerk.

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is this a general thing (related to IT as a whole) or is it relating to those who rose on the back of the IT wave from the 90s onwards I wonder?

I have noticed a general sense of rejection of the established sys ******** methods established from the 1960 onwards, followed by predictable project-disaster, on many occasions

In my last IT job, we had an ex-teacher (in his early 60s) who had stumbled into IT Project Management...He didn't have an effing clue, and was on at least 60k. He would get the "minions" to do all the documentation, etc... and then he'd get all the credit for it. He just seemed to courier servers between sites...

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I'm a few years away from 55 and from time to time I think about this age as being significant because, in my humble opinion, this is the age you need to have sorted out a great deal of your life.

First and foremost you have to be debt-free and own a property, then your outgoings are significantly reduced, you need to have enough savings to last you 6 months to 1 year and you need to be able to survive without a car and be ready to live frugally. This might sound a bit sad but I have 'practice runs' a couple of weeks of not going out, not drinking, shopping at Lidl to see how much I need to live on.

I used to think like that but since I've realised the government is stealing my money every day I have changed. The prospect of low interest rates for a very long time is making me an angry and I feel like I want some sort of revenge.

If someone approaching 55 had a mortgage free house that they could sell or could afford to buy one, why have the house? By having that house you are giving your money to the government because it stops you claiming such as housing benefit that is freely available to others. It's that which makes your living frugally scenario more likely. Instead there are all sorts of things you could do with that money, that would mean you had more to live on. Although in a house you don't own and joining the benefits gravy train.

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is this a general thing (related to IT as a whole) or is it relating to those who rose on the back of the IT wave from the 90s onwards I wonder?

I have noticed a general sense of rejection of the established sys ******** methods established from the 1960 onwards, followed by predictable project-disaster, on many occasions

...whatever...he qualified as an MBA...this relies heavily on strategy in the learning and delivery....he should use it to work out a personal strategy ...SWOT analysis and set himself up as a service provider whether it's for cleaning loos or serving pink champagne...he's had the training ...use it....maybe they should include psychology in the MBA package ..without it there are lots of bees running around without wings....and therefore will never deliver.... :rolleyes:

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Having come to IT relatively late after a decade in another completely unrelated job I have to say it is an area with an unsually large number of appalling and useless managers who would simply not survive in other types of business

That's a fantastic perspective, coming to it with sufficient real-life experience in another sector not to just lie down and be ******ed. And I'm really glad to see your comment comparing managers in IT to elsewhere. Maybe I could've moved to another sector instead of another country?

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is this a general thing (related to IT as a whole) or is it relating to those who rose on the back of the IT wave from the 90s onwards I wonder?

I have noticed a general sense of rejection of the established sys ******** methods established from the 1960 onwards, followed by predictable project-disaster, on many occasions

I think it has always been true to a certain extent in IT ( the Myth Of The Man Month etc) but has definitely got worse in the last 10-15 years particularly with the rise of what I would regard as largely 'non technical' IT service providers. In particular companies such as Accenture, Cap Gemini, the former EDS etc were and are essentially bodyshopping outfits with little real background or interest in IT engineering or innovation (ie they built no hardware or commercial software). The idea of proper Systems Analysis has largely gone out of the window as an unecessary overhead. I have actually had the misfortune to attend design sessions where the process appeared to consist of sticking post it notes on a wall. It is little wonder that systems that have so little real effort expended on their technical planning are such clunkers. But then that is to ignore the real purpose of most activities in many areas of IT which is to provide booking codes for managers to record their time against rather than producing anything useful,

Edited by stormymonday_2011
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I used to think like that but since I've realised the government is stealing my money every day I have changed. The prospect of low interest rates for a very long time is making me an angry and I feel like I want some sort of revenge.

If someone approaching 55 had a mortgage free house that they could sell or could afford to buy one, why have the house? .By having that house you are giving your money to the government because it stops you claiming such as housing benefit that is freely available to others. It's that which makes your living frugally scenario more likely. Instead there are all sorts of things you could do with that money, that would mean you had more to live on. Although in a house you don't own and joining the benefits gravy train.

Wrong....anyone who has worked to be mortgage and debt free, sacrificing many other material frivolities, when others who favoured instant gratification and short-term highs, living for the day and enjoying all the good things in life.....freedom means free from others that have a hold on you...living frugally to achieve that is a price worth paying... ;)

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This guy makes me feel sick. Go be a Support Worker look after people with learning difficulties, bam instant £6.37+ hour, get your confidence back. You can take part time if you want, the works hard but the work is there. Find a bit of overtime off a mate to keep going. Basic 101 climb the low pay scale, take a temp job, talk to the IT department in there look for a chance.

First thing I learned after 6 months of empty promises from my previous industry was look at a different job where the middle class look down on you, then aim lower. Once a job is secured its the best incentive to find a better job I ever had.

The second thing you learn is 98% of job adverts are bull. What he needs to find is a new venture where one agent is assigned the sole provider for the department. He should be able to sniff a place like that over the year from a friend.

As for a career that pays over £25k, possibly dream on that was so 90's.

Edited by pathfinder
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That's a fantastic perspective, coming to it with sufficient real-life experience in another sector not to just lie down and be ******ed. And I'm really glad to see your comment comparing managers in IT to elsewhere. Maybe I could've moved to another sector instead of another country?

I think the reason has been pointed out earlier is that poor engineers and technicians have too often been moved into management to solve 'problems' they cause when they actually get to handle systems directly (ie rather than firing them they have simply been given something else to do where it is thought they can do less damage). This is not likely to happen to you in many other areas of business where competence at the basic job is usually required for promotion. As a result people who are not just poor technically but are generally low grade in many other areas including the much vaunted business knowledge, personal skills, communication etc get onto the management chain. In my experience IT projects also seem to carry much more management overhead than many other lines of work. This has also got a lot more pronounced in recent years with the appearence of make grade jobs like Service Managers, Delivery Managers, Implementation Managers etc who have essentially cannabilised the job of the old Project Manager

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Wrong....anyone who has worked to be mortgage and debt free, sacrificing many other material frivolities, when others who favoured instant gratification and short-term highs, living for the day and enjoying all the good things in life.....freedom means free from others that have a hold on you...living frugally to achieve that is a price worth paying... ;)

You are completely missing the point.

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Goodness me, why isn't HPC ripping this guy apart, he's 50 therefore a scum bag BOOMER, who obviously f*ked up all the easy options he was given.... F**king LOSER.

I'm 52 this year, by the way and but for the grace of GOD......etc <_<

Maybe because HPC doesn't consist entirely of people who have swallowed the 'blame the boomers' propaganda that is filling their heads in order that they don't blame the people who are really shafting them.

Edited by campervanman
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Agreed it is a highly creative process. The problem is you eventually have done everything. I have done web work, written unix drivers and kernel work, written all sorts of apps, written commerical tools for other developers, highly distributed systems, front office trading systems etc. The new tech may not be the same, but it rhymes. I have seen it all before, its just theme and variations. Every time I did a project I would get so into it time would fly by and I got older. Look up, another 6 months had passed. Then, one day, I just stopped. Not a conscious decision. Just wasn't interested any more. It was like playing chess (which I was also rather good at, then just stopped). I wasn't growing any more. It was just repetitive. I miss the income, but I have more piece of mind. The problem with IT is that you put all your mental energy into it. You could be using that for something else. Learning things more useful or useless. Instead of learning some library of function calls, you could have learned a foreign language (comme j'ai). You could have learned things you could sell till your death. It's fun whilst you are still seeking experience, still learning, but eventually you are a master and it's time to move on and do something else. Some of you may have already realised, you are actually just the modern day version of the filing clerk.

****** me, you didn't learn very well...

Must every thread on this forum now turn into a techie *****-fest?

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Maybe because HPC doesn't consist entirely of people who have swallowed the 'blame the boomers' propaganda that is filling their heads in order that they don't blame the people who are really shafting them.

I'm wary about how i'll be treated in the workplace, once I get to that milestone.... Give it 20 years, and I believe that ageism wont be anywhere as bad is it is at the moment...

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