A recruiter called me. She had found my resume on my website (I used to post it on my site before LinkedIn existed), and was wondering if I would be interested in interviewing for an engineering manager position at VMWare, which, at the time, had 100-200 employees and was not yet public.
Red Hat was not terrible, but it was not smooth. The product I had been managing was a commercial failure, so we open-sourced it, and shifted development resources elsewhere. The team I was managing was assigned to work with a product that was in serious trouble. The entire team hated that project. When it failed, the development team was laid off, but my team survived, and was assigned to other work.
And slowly, the main part of the business that Cygnus had built was being pared down and chipped away.
I was now managing engineers for the open-source project, gdb. The challenges were considerable, as the team was even more distributed than my previous team. And I did not know the gdb code base at all. This pretty much ended my technical contributions at Cygnus and Red Hat, and it would be a long time before I touched code on a product consistently.
The upshot is that I was nervous at Red Hat. I did not enjoy my interactions with the HR or Finance departments (Red Hat spent six weeks and $300 to reimburse my Australian engineer $40 AUS for copy paper once). My career as a manager was going fairly well. I had a good rapport with my boss, and now that I was managing our open-source engineers, the rest of the managers and I started getting to know each other.
Still, this was the Dot Com era, and there was stupid money being thrown around everywhere. So I took interviews.
The VMWare interview was for software engineering manager. I don’t remember having a techincal phone screen; I think I just showed up for an interview after the recruiter talked to me. I talked to five people. Nobody did a technical assessment of me at all; they talked about software release cycles, performance reviews, managing upwards, balancing competing interests, etc.
I thought I did well. They told me “No, thank you”.
The recruiter said that the general feeling was that I was too arrogant. Well, I am arrogant, so I guess if that was too much for them, they made the right decision. Funny thing, though, I told a friend of mine the reason a few years later, and her response, “You? Too arrogant for VMWare? They are among the most arrogant people I have worked with! What did you do?”
I just shrugged.