Saturday, July 10, 2010

Out of Balance

My work responsibilities have shifted again. My company has just gone through a reorganization, which is not at all uncommon in the biotech industry. One of the things that senior management and the Board of Directors decided we needed to strengthen was our project management practice. At the same time, they didn't really want to hire a full time project manager- we are too small, and only a couple of our projects are in the advanced stage that usually warrants formal project management in this industry.

So now, I'm fulfilling an interesting hybrid project and program management role. I have time to do this because after the reorganization, there is far less need for the science I used to do for the company. I continue to be in charge of IT and informatics (which I define as the use of computers to help other scientists better manage their data), but the "computational science" portion of my job has been replaced by project management.

I'm not sure yet what I think of this change. I am certainly glad to have been given this opportunity rather than a severance package- the biotech job market is better than it was a year ago, but still not all that great. My boss and the rest of the senior management at my company think that this is a great opportunity for me, since I'm actually working directly with one of our board members on this. If I do well, he will be a powerful ally for my future career. But I liked the science I used to do, and I will miss it. One of the reasons I took this job was the chance to do some science again. However, I also get a fair amount of satisfaction from helping get projects running well, and I am already learning a lot about other types of science and drug development in my new role. So it is a mix of good and bad, and I am not unhappy doing it.

But it is quite a change, and has been pretty draining so far- and no doubt will continue to be until I am up to speed in the new role. It doesn't help that I came down with an extremely nasty cold basically the day that the new job started. I would have stayed home for at least a day, but I couldn't. I haven't been functioning at my full capacity at work, and have had to work a bit at night to make up for that.

All of this has conspired to make my life feel out of balance lately. I work, take care of the kids, and sleep. We're behind on our housework and I'm craving more time to just play with the kids, who are both at fun ages right now. I have lots of ideas for blog posts but no time to write them. For instance, I want to start a series of posts called "Dinner during Dora" with recipes I use during the week (when I essentially need to cook dinner during the time it takes for Pumpkin to watch one episode of Dora). I'm thinking that having such a series might inspire me to look for new recipes- and maybe some of you would point me to some good ones. We've got a whooping cough outbreak here right now, and that's got a long pondered post about vaccination brewing again. And some recent AskMoxie posts about marriage (or actually divorce) and testing for gifted programs in early elementary school have stirred up a lot of ideas about getting what you need in your marriage and educating kids who are on the smarter side of average that I wish I had time to explore here. Feel free to vote in the comments for what I should write about next time I get a chance. I make no promises that I'll listen, but I might!

But right now, I should go fold some laundry.


  1. A few things:

    1. I currently have a heap of unfolded laundry, both in a basket and another load still in the dryer, yet here I am reading/commenting/blogging instead. Your laundry can wait. :)

    2. Though I didn't weigh in on the Ask Moxie post about marriage/divorce (I read it several days late, so didn't post late) but I totally got what you were saying and I too was a little shocked to hear people say they envied divorcees due to the free time they get (I know I'm oversimplifying, but you know what I mean). I have thoughts on this too, having gone through the ups and downs in marriage just like everyone else, so if you wrote about that next I'd be in on that discussion for sure. I was disappointed that I read Moxie's so late and didn't get a chance to join in on the discussion.

    3. My husband is a PMP (project management professional) and though I don't have a designation, I've taken way too much course work on project management and it's a big part of my job too. It sounds like a good opportunity for you to shine and get the right people on your side... good luck! I thought I'd chime in on that because its something I actually know about, and I'm missing using the left side of my brain. If only I had a project to manage that didn't involve glitter glue and princesses. I haven't worked since December. 6 more months to go...

    4. I love the Dinner with Dora idea. Its not such an issue for me now (see above... not working) but it sure will be when I go back to work, and it was when I was working between my last maternity leave and this one. I had quite a few 20 minute dinners that worked well for us, but I'd love to get ideas for more.

    Hope you find balance soon. And glad to hear that sleeping was one of the three things you do... hope thats going ok these days!

  2. I also love the Dinner with Dora idea. I could use the help..

    and who knows, you could be the next Rachael Ray with your 30 minute meals!

  3. OK, so I'll do some Dinner during Dora posts if you guys do, too! We can swap ideas. Maybe I can get one up soon. But don't get your hopes up... I'm not a culinary whiz or anything.

    @Melba- it wasn't at all clear from my post, but I was a project manager at my previous job. The difference is that I was a project manager for informatics projects, not drug development projects. So I know the basics, but it is a new domain. And in this job, there is a senior guy (the board member) who has very definite ideas about how to run things, which is an interesting twist.

    I was starting to take the classes required by my company before they'd pay for the PMP certification class and test, but then I decided to leave that job.

    Didn't you say in an earlier comment that you almost visited San Diego once? You'll have to let me know if you do make it down here some time- it sounds like we have a lot in common!

  4. I'm with Melba - the project management (may your biotech grow to have portfolio management some day!) niche can be really fun. In no time you'll have your PMP, too (I bet you qualify already)! Sadly it's rarely valued in small biotechs. I just hope that the investment of your time isn't aimed at covering up for management indecision. Meanwhile - aim for that balance and agility (and I think the Dinner with Dora idea may have more market value than most biotechs!).

  5. The only thing that my husband actually likes me to cook is roasted veggies, that would definitely work for a dinner with dora type thing, just requires you to get the oven cranked up to 425, chop a bunch of veggies up (sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots are some favourites)mix with olive oil and a little seasoning and then throw them in the oven for around 30 mins, mixing a couple of times in between. I usually throw in a couple of chicken type of awful things for him since he also has no taste in meat, and make some veggie burgers for myself.

    I totally get you with the out of wack thing, selling this house is really much more stressful than I ever expected and I feel totally out of balance, happens to us all. Hope you get on an even keel soon!

  6. I hope the job transition goes well.

    I find that no matter what you are doing, even if it's not THE thing you wish you were doing, it always serves toward some greater purpose in the future either because of the skills you aquire or the people you happen to meet or impress... There is always something in it that will work toward your benefit someday.

    I, too, LOVE the Dinner/Dora idea. Here's my contribution (p.s. I used to work in a restaurant kitchen. see above.)
    I use a handheld blenderizer and buzz a small can of sweet corn and 3 eggs (serves 4). Poor small amount in a small fry pan so you are making something like a crepe.

    When you take it out of the pan and it's still hot, place finger-thick slices of fresh mozzarella on one edge and roll the crepe up up. Can use a toothpick to keep it closed if needed.

    You can then offer small bowls of different dipping sauces to go with it like sun-dried tomato paste, pesto, ketchup, soy sauce etc... different things that you and the kids would like. If you know the kids would love pesto then you can spread the pesto or other condiment on the crepe before adding the cheese and rolling.

    What I love about this is it smells like popcorn when the crepes cook! And the kids like that!

  7. So far Tate and I have been living on peanut butter sandwiches and cheese sticks for dinner for the last week. I think he might appreciate it if I can put together something a little more interesting so I'll be looking forward to the Dinner with Dora post!

    Good luck with the job transition!

  8. Let's hear it for the PMPs and almost-PMPs! My goal is to go through the PMP bootcamp and test this year. My hubby did it last year, but I was too busy creating a human to have time to do much else. heh. So I am hoping to do it this year instead.

    I wish you the best in this new venture. From what I know of your personality and work skillz, I'm betting you'll do fantastic in this new role.

    The dinner delimma is my husbands, since he does the pickups and late afternoon watches while cooking dinner. At least for now. If he has late meetings and dinner falls to me on a week night, I usually end up making pancakes. Cause I do breakfasts and am used to doing them quick. :-)

    I'd love to hear you talk about kids educations. I'd especially love to hear any thoughts you have on promoting the sciences to our daughters. But you know, whenever you have time.

  9. @LabMom - I love your avatar pic!

  10. I'm going to do a 'Dinner During Dora' post right now, because THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I DO EVERY NIGHT.

    Or, sometimes, 'dinner during WonderPets,' or 'dinner during Diego'

    22 minutes -- go!


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.