How You Know You Are in the Right Role

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My next post is in process and will focus on whether or not an individual contributor should move into SE Leadership.  In the meantime I was listening to a new hire training presentation by one of our sales leaders and he shared the below graphic.  In my previous posts (How do you know when it is time to leave your job as an SE?My Favorite Interview Questions – SE & SE Leaders) I highlighted how important it is to uncover what gives an individual energy and motivation and align that to specific roles.  Innately I have understood the concepts of ‘You Love It’, ‘You Are Great at It’, ‘You are Paid for it’ but I missed the concept of ‘The World Needs it’ and how they can all overlap.

How does your role fit the following?


If I think about my own recent roles

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

  • Great at it: didn’t have a PhD but I could write some decent code, but I was not most detail oriented.
  • World Needs It: shooting down nuclear missiles is a pretty important effort.
  • Paid for: not a ton since it was non profit, but I could feed myself
  • Love it: loved the people I worked with and the travel, but working on government and long term projects wasn’t the best fit for me.


  • Great at it: SE leadership, enablement, SaaS were all strength areas.  Big Data was a new discipline and just average.
  • World Needs It: with a crowded market in analytics it was a nice to have vs. a change the world effort.
  • Paid for: sales is pay for performance, high tech – all good.
  • Love it: analytics just wasn’t a passion area of technology


  • Great at it: my background in IT sponsorship, time at Cisco, SaaS, application development, computer science, SE leadership, scaling teams, recruiting, hiring, mentoring – all areas of skill.
  • World Needs It: ummm… cybersecurity… have you seen the front page?
  • Paid for: sales is pay for performance, high tech – all good.
  • Love it: great people, honesty, scrappy, can wear jeans (most of the time), trust, etc. Yup.


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