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“Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish…”

As of the close of business on 09 Sep 22, I officially became a former Gartner Expert. My Analyst Profile page on gartner.com bears this out! This was simultaneously one of the easiest and most difficult decisions of my career.

Care to know why? Well, click the post title and read on… πŸ˜‰

Life at Gartner

I completed over six years as a Gartner Expert on the Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) team. I started as an Analyst covering ITSM and later changed roles to become an Executive Advisor supporting Peer and Practitioner Research (PPR) [formerly known as CEB].

Until I was asked to interview for the open analyst position, I had no intention of applying for a job at Gartner. I had very little knowledge of what the company really did, you know — “Oh, they’re the Magic Quadrant people, right?” At this point, I only knew one person there, and they recruited me!

As the conversation moved forward, I began to get excited about the opportunity, as it felt like the (proverbial) “dream come true.” I remember thinking: “Hold on, you’re going to pay me to do the things that I am now doing for *FREE*?!? Yeah, sign me up.” So they did…

How I’ve Changed

I was an experienced consultant and recognized industry expert before joining, so I’d started off with a significant base of knowledge and experience to draw on. My time at Gartner was the most significant personal and professional development opportunity ever. It caused me to stretch and grow in ways I’d never anticipated or would have thought about taking on before joining.

When you talk to as many people and organizations as I did about what’s important to them and their concerns, you learn what is unique or special about their organization and what issues many customers are dealing with at the macro level. While working as a consultant, I could only serve a handful of accounts, which wasn’t the level of impact I wanted. I felt that working at Gartner would be a meaningful means to that end — it was!

Life By The Numbers

Gartner is an interesting organization; from the Gartner Expert’s perspective, pretty well everything has a “number” associated with it. As such, I thought it’d be good to do a little accounting of what I was able to produce during my time there. I didn’t do a detailed count or run reports before my departure, so the numbers may be slightly off. Still, I think they’re pretty close to correct!

Client interactions: >4000 (all types)

Written research: 25 (all author types)

Conference presentations: 45 (all author types)

kengon @ Gartner by the numbers

NOTE: If any of my friends who are still at Gartner care to do a sanity check on these, I’ll happily post an update to these stats.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I always tried to do things that were good for customers and a legit contribution to the canon.

I also tried my best to share my knowledge and experience, not being a “hoarder” and being protective of my coverage. I built a complete, internally-focused IT Service Management training program and have actively mentored, developed a lot of people throughout my tenure. For me, these are some of my most important, significant accomplishments. I’m at the point in my career where I am more concerned about developing others and giving away the things I’ve learned to others to build upon. This is one of the areas that I wished I’d have had the opportunity to do more of while at Gartner.

Why the change? Why now?

This isn’t a “sudden development,” though I realize it may seem that way to some. The fact is that I’d been thinking about making a change for some time.

I often referred to myself as a “utility infielder” — I took inquiries on topics our customers wanted or needed an answer for. I was unwilling to accept the pat answer, “oh, that’s a topic we don’t cover.” Some of those were legitimate, but most of my most popular topics represented the gap between common understanding and what had already been discussed in published research.

I’m the type of person that needs a stretch and some level of variety. Doing the same thing repeatedly feels more like a punishment than something joyous. Getting the talk track down for a content area doesn’t inspire me or enable me do my best work, it helps ensure a predictable level of performance and customer satisfaction. That’s not bad, but it was certainly not enough for me. Even the toughest customer calls to me were no longer keeping me “on the edge of my seat.”

I applied for several new roles internally but was unsuccessful at securing one. I didn’t want to leave the company, but something needed to change — that was inevitable.

Acknowledgements

My co-workers

During my time at Gartner, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Some are early in their careers, others have been at it a long time. Tenure and total experience is not the thing — it’s the passion for the work and to be of service. Those are two important elements that stand out for me.

For all of my Gartner peeps, I believe you know how much I think of you, my departure doesn’t change that. I didn’t have enough time to say goodbye to all of the people I’d wanted to and I’m a bit disappointed, but that’s the nature of transitions.

While I am losing valued co-workers in the short-term, I am retaining so many people I am proud to call friends.

I’d love to acknowledge them individually, but that would just take too long and you’d get bored!

My customers

The thing that has really provided the most satisfaction for me as a Gartner Expert are all of the fabulous interactions I’ve had with my customers.

The most significant acknowledgment that any customer ever offered me was, “Wow, I’d never thought about this issue like this before!” The insights we were able to cull out of our interactions were fun, exciting, and valuable. Your willingness and the level of trust you granted to go on a journey with me are notable, and I’m grateful for that. When any corporate BS started (and there’s always corporate BS, no matter what organization you’re in, right?) to get me down, I always took solace in knowing that I would have the opportunity to work with you on things that were timely, relevant, and important.

Obviously, I am unable to “name names,” but you know who you are!

If you were one of my customers, please accept my thanks for the huge listening you provided and your willingness to engage fully. I consider it the most valuable gift one person can give to another.

Closing

The next logical question would be, “OK, kengon, what’s next?” I’m committing to provide an answer to this one, but not in this post. I’d like to share a number of things with everyone, and I’ll get to that in short order. You’ll see some updates on LinkedIn, but I’ll be going into more detail in subsequent posts.

If you read this far, thank you! I appreciate you.


NOTE: For those that don’t know, the title of this post is a nod to Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

8 thoughts on ““Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish…””

  1. Tiny Haynes

    That man Ken Gonzales! You will be missed by the Gartner family. If you’re staying in the industry I’m sure our paths will crosss. Keep well and smiling!

    From your small friend Tiny

    1. Kenneth Gonzalez

      Thank you, Tiny! You’ve always kept things interesting and fun. I look forward to having a pint with you, next time we’re somewhere together πŸ™‚

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