When Jared started as the new FPL in July, I started a process of transitioning to a new role in Red Hat. A lot of the parameters of that new role, which is currently called an “operations manager,” were yet to be defined. (In fact, some of them still are.) I realized the other day after a couple questions from friends in Fedora that maybe people were interested in what I was doing. I’m always surprised by that, but I’m happy to give some more details here.
I continue to report to the same manager, Tim Burke, currently the VP of Linux Development and a frequent participant in Fedora events such as the most recent North American FUDCon in Toronto. Among myriad other duties, Tim is accountable for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux product; Spot, Jared, and I all report to Tim.
When I started looking for other opportunities in Red Hat, Tim brought this new operations manager role to my attention. It would consist primarily of working with various teams in his department, coordinating cross-team initiatives, improving communications, performing some management activities, and exploring ways to enhance productivity in the department.
If that sounds somewhat vague, it’s because he wanted to adapt the role somewhat to my skills and abilities. I’ve really come to respect and enjoy that kind of flexibility and openness, which is a hallmark of life at Red Hat. Having the support of your manager to succeed in a new role is certainly very important, but when they also want to help you define it, the challenge is larger but even more fulfilling.
Another major requirement of the new job was to help Jared have a smooth transition into his role as Fedora project leader. I very much appreciated the recognition that leadership changes are complex and time-intensive for everyone involved. New leaders require time to get to know their constituents, responsibilities, and influence, and develop their vision and priorities for moving forward. To that end, the vast majority of my time now and over the past few months has been devoted to providing that runway for “the new guy.” ?
Jared and I communicate constantly about the work going on for the Fedora 14 release, and I support his transition in part by taking on tasks with which he’s not yet familiar. That work lets him concentrate immediately on critical path tasks that must be done by the FPL. It also gives me an opportunity to show him what I’m doing, so he’ll be familiar and comfortable with it for the Fedora 15 cycle. During this release, I’ve been doing the following:
- Working on Fedora Insight, a content management system where we plan to start by publishing Fedora Weekly News and expand, in accordance with community participation, to other areas
- Providing information to RHEL teams about progress and expectations
- Helping with release materials from the Fedora Marketing team
- Assisting Jared with the PR schedule items for Fedora 14
- Serving as the primary Red Hat point of contact for the upcoming FUDCon Tempe 2011
- Helping connect volunteers in different parts of Fedora with additional teams where it makes sense to coordinate
Of course, over time my role in Fedora, including that kind of support, will taper off to a large degree, especially following the release of Fedora 14. I won’t be disappearing from Fedora in any way. My plan is to continue working on Fedora Insight, as sort of a “10-20%” project, in my new role, and I have support for doing that. Also, where Fedora is relevant to RHEL department improvements (and it often is!), I expect to continue having conversations with Jared and many other individuals and teams in the Fedora community, to explore how Red Hat can continue and improve its level and quality of contributions.
So that’s the long and short of what I’m doing nowadays. I’m very proud of the work our community has done in Fedora over the past several years, and looking forward to many more. I’m grateful for the constant support of the community, my peers, and my management. I’m also excited that, in terms of a career at Red Hat, I’ve not only been able to hopefully contribute in some way to the success of the Fedora Project, but also to find a new way to help free and open source software succeed by taking on a different kind of role in the company.
Thanks for letting me prattle on. I hope this helps people understand my new role at Red Hat a little better. And of course, I’m sure that, as the old song goes, I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places!*
* Yes, I know the song is a little melancholy, which isn’t quite what I intend here, but the line’s too good too pass up!