Refocusing a Career

Michael Ruminer
3 min readApr 13, 2024
Image of a pair of eyeglasses with one lens in focus and the other lens out of focus

Now for something entirely different. I write only occasionally on a topic of interest to me, verifiable credentials. Today it is something entirely different, my career. Most specifically, on how it may be time for a refocus. A movement from software development life-cycle process back toward a new more technical focus, AI.

I have, in some ways, refocused my career a couple of times. It wasn’t a full restart or anything; just moving into new directions within software development. Some were more a natural progressions than a refocus. This time it would certainly be a refocus.

What I do and what I have done?

For the last several years I have been a software technical release manager focused on not only getting software out the door but on process improvement. That is not where I started my career. It all started as a system admin, then a programmer, then getting involved in migrations and software develpment for mitigating Y2K, on to a software team lead. Then came the first refocus, I got deeply invested in a new Microsoft product Team Foundation Server. This took me down a fun rabbit hole where I spent some years consulting on implementations and use of the product. I spent a few years of my consulting as a Micrsoft MVP on the product, which was very rewarding. Ultimately, with a focus on version control, automated builds and deploys, and release processes with the product and in general, I made the next refocus. I moved into release management. Decidely less technical, but something I have now enjoyed for a number of years. I find the cross-functional nature rewarding and plenty of opportunity to still practice process improvement.

Why the consideration of a refocus?

I see it as a dying domain. I have found that the role is late to join organizations and more easily released from those same organizations. In my experience, companies find unexpected value in the role and can really enjoy having the “glue” bring higher quality and improved flow to production and beyond, but “enjoy” is too much of an operative word here. When belts are tightened it is one of the first roles to go — seen as a luxury not a requirement. I also see diminishing new opportunities in the marketplace. All this places downward pressure on compensation. Additionally, upward progression from the role is often difficult. So it may be time for a full refocus, again.

Too technical for the role?

It wasn’t too long ago I was told as a final feedback for a failed pursuit of an open release management position:

You are too technical.

Hmmm… I knew what they meant, but I had never had my quals work against me- not that I know of. Most find it to be a boon. It made me think. With all the considerations of why there might need to be a refocus, is it time to shift my momentum?

Where to next?

I really enjoy what I do and would hate to give it up but the writing might be on the wall. So, as I survey the landscape, I say to myself “what might be next”. Where is the best opportunity to delve into new things and make an impact for organizations? Is it the AI domain? Can I go from zero to hero? What does that look like? How long would it take and what path is there? I see a lot of potential in Microsoft’s Azure AI offerings and the ones that will inevtiably come down the line. Plus, I have a long history in the Microsoft stack. Let’s see where the next few years take me. Regardless of anything, I’ll certainly be digging deeper into the practical applications and implementations of the technology all why continuing my enjoyable current role in software life cycle.

Back to a common topic

Now, if I can come up with an AI realm play that ties in verifiable, portable, credentials. What will be bigger in the future than identity and AI? Nothing.

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Michael Ruminer

Delving into verifiable credentials. did:web:manicprogrammer.github.io