Kim called me, encouraging me to join her, There’s a Senior Writer position open in my group. I think you’ll like it here. They have a Philosophy department…
They have what?!
Yes, she continued. I’ve taken some interesting courses. Not just technical stuff. And we have beer busts every Friday.
It sounded more like a university campus. Perhaps, it wasn’t as laid back as all that, but it was dramatically different from Tymnet.
They were the first company I knew where you could earn as much money and respect rising in the ranks as an individual contributor as you could by becoming a manager. They even gave individual contributors nicer offices with windows. We had large offices, not cubicles. Two individual contributors shared the room, but it was large enough that some people brought in additional furniture like sofas. Managers received smaller, private offices without windows.
Jimmy Treybig, the CEO, was willing to talk to anyone. Not long after I had started working there, Treybig stopped me one day as I was walking in the corridor and asked, in his warm Texas drawl, How are things going?
He succeeded in giving me the impression that he actually cared what I thought.
Treybig also starred in a monthly program that was broadcast on a Tandem internal television network and included skits, modeled after Saturday Night Live. The skits were educational—explaining some aspect of Tandem technology so that even non-technical staff could understand–and surprisingly entertaining. My documentation group was in the building next to the studio, so we tried to be part of the live audience whenever we could.
We still worked hard. But my workday now included time for other things.
I had been assigned to lead some cross-group projects that required me to give presentations, which led me to join Tandem Toastmasters. Toastmasters helped me to get control of my fear. Participating in the Tandem club had an added benefit. I was meeting and becoming friendly with members from Development and Customer Support, which also improved my business interactions with the people in those groups.
One summer, I learned how to do free-style swimming in the company pool. I had learned how to swim as a child. But for some reason, we did more breaststroke and sidestroke. At Tandem, I learned how to breathe properly so that I could successful do laps of free-style.
After five years, I got a paid 5-week sabbatical. My manager was switching to another type of job and suggested that take her place.
Her suggestion was tempting. I really liked Tandem, felt ready to try management, and would have been happy to stay—except that my husband and I wanted to move back to Israel. So I let myself be recruited by another company that would fit into that plan.