It was January 2005. According to the plan, I should have finished with the development of the product and be ready to release the first version. But unfortunately things don’t always go as expected. Doing part-time product development was more tedious than I expected, and I only managed to finish about 20% of the product. My business partner K’s idea was to release the product before we resigned, so that we could have a “smooth” transition. But at the rate of my part-time development, that was quite impossible.
So I decided to tender my resignation on 31st Jan 2005 so that I could go into full-time development of my product as soon as possible. Alright, the resignation date wasn’t chosen because it was auspicious. It was chosen because that was one week after I got my annual bonus, and was probably the last chance I collected annual bonus as an employee.
I wasn’t in the mood to do anything useful that day. The only thing in my mind was how and when to tender. Time seemed to pass-by very slowly. I waited till after office hours, as I knew my manager CK often worked quite late and hopefully other colleagues would have left by then. I had been thinking about how would CK react at my resignation. Although I was very firm about my decision, the execution wasn’t without any hesitation. Afterall, leaving the familiar environment that I had been working in for several years wasn’t easy. I knew that CK had been very stressful because of the pressure from the higher management, and I was perhaps the most important engineer in his team. Would he feel that I was letting him down?
I went over to CK’s office at around 7pm. There were still some other colleagues around, so I asked CK to come over to the laboratory that I worked in. Somehow, I preferred to tender my resignation alone to him without the presence of other colleagues.
At the lab, I handed my resignation letter to CK. He was rather surprised and asked for my reasons. But to my relieve he didn’t look angry. I told CK that I planned to setup my own company. And I told him about certain push factors that contributed to my decision. I told him that as a technically-inclined person, my future was rather bleak in this company, or in most companies in Singapore. I foresee myself to be in his position several years down the road, getting buried in management & administrative stuffs that I had absolutely no interest in, if I remained in this company. I wanted to have the freedom to create my own products. I wanted to see how far I can go. I wanted to change the world. At least till I grow old. At least. At least. And I can tell myself that I have tried.
And lastly, I asked CK : “Do you really enjoy your job?”
CK sighed and said, “What do you think? I wish I had your courage ten years ago…”
CK was able to fully understand what I wanted, and wished me good luck in my future endeavour. CK was an interesting person to work with. He was what I called an “accidental manager”, as he was an engineer for several years before being promoted to a manager, pretty much against his wishes. It is quite obvious that an engineer and a manager requires very different skill sets, and a good engineer not necessarily can become a good manager, and vice versa. CK can be considered as a competent engineer, but he is not really a successful manager. And I meant that as a compliment, not a criticism.