The Sin of Tech Longevity 

Really great article by Brian Nemhauser on the topic of spending a long time at at tech company. Having just finished up my ~12 year run at a tech company, so much of this resonated with me. In the handful of times I took an interview/phone call in the past 4-5 years, I had to develop an answer to why I had stayed at the same place. My answer was similar to Brian’s—it wasn’t really the same place, nor the same job. I worked at a small startup, a mid-size company, a pre-public company, a public company, and a host of transitions in between.

Change was not something I embraced when my career started, but adaptation and anticipation quickly became second nature. My appetite for change did not come from lack of attachment to Adobe history. To the contrary, it was fueled by a deep loyalty and dedication to our mission built over many years.

One of the things I had to adapt to was that change wasn’t bad. Early on, I had a hammer, and everything was a nail. As a company changes, the logical thing for lots of folks is just to do it the way you’ve always done it. Eventually you realize that you can bring your existing ways with you, but can learn from the changing company (and changing world around you) and embrace that change.

Now I was learning about sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and corporate strategy. It was an MBA-in-a-box.

This is often how I’ve described my time. By being open to change and taking on new things, I worked with so many groups that I might not have had a chance to in a normal tech path. I used to refer to it as my MBA-on-the-job.

Longevity, however, need not equal stagnation. It can mean wisdom, passion, dedication, and sustained peak performance. That is what I see when crossing paths with most of the other marathon runners at Adobe.

Longevity, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. There are certainly employees who find their comfort level and will push back against any changes. Those employees can be toxic, and you need to find a way to help them see the value in growth and change, or find a way to minimize their toxicity. Those long-timers who are adaptable and embrace change, they are your keystones, bridging the past to the present.