On career paths

Kathy Sierra shares some interesting thoughts about how “Success” should not mean “Management”:

Isn't it about time we quit measuring professional success in one dimension, vertically, and start considering how much your actual work matches your desired work? And isn't it about time more companies started offering multiple career tracks, where management is no more valuable or important than the highly-skilled work of an individual contributor? (Sun is a good example of a company that offers two clear paths--one for management, and one for individual contributors who'd rather bathe cats than be a boss.) What happens when a company gives an employee no option for growth other than management? Yes, lots of individual contributors (even programmers) want the challenge of a management role, but some of the best feel forced into trading the work they love best for more "advancement opportunities". How senseless is it to take a star programmer and make her do Gantt charts? How lame it is to take your best designer and make him run budget meetings, review TPS reports, and consolidate time sheets?

I am lucky enough to work at one of those companies that, like Sun, offer two separate tracks for individual contributors and managers. Sadly, there are whole cultures (e.g. what seems to be the predominant Spanish corporate culture) that think that only losers stay for long as individual contributors.

Hopefully with more posts like Kathy’s folks will start to wake up and make career decisions that will actually make them happier (as opposed to making them own more stuff).