Because of the reorganizations, during the nine years I worked in Ericsson, my managers changed constantly. I also worked with some other project or line managers. There were good and bad memories.
XY.P. was my first manager. She was THE MOST hardworking person I have ever met. To a lot of people, it was not easy to work with her, as she had set a very high standard. But she always led by example, and treated her staff really well. She was diagnosed with throat cancer later, but luckily, got a complete remission. She then realized it was more important being healthy, so she quit her job and returned to California to stay with her family.
K.L. was the second manager of mine. She was my team leader when I first joined Ericsson, and was promoted to a line manager later. She was a nice person, and was also pretty hardworking. Other than that, I just can’t think of anything good of her as a manager. She had not written a single line of code (of commercial products) before she got this position as a line manager of a software team. She wouldn’t take any risks, and trust me, it was not always a good thing. I remember that she constantly asked people “Are you a hundred percent sure? Ninety nine percent is not OK”. She also tried to micromanage everything. At the end of one of my business trips to Sweden, she called me on my cell phone when I was on my way to the airport in Stockholm. It was because there were some urgent customer requests on the product I worked before. She was so nervous (because of the pressure from the customer) and asked me to go to our office immediately when I returned to Beijing. Then she started reading the customer’s requirements (some new features they wanted in the product), and tried to explain to me what they meant. I did not need her explanations at all, as I knew that product so well, and also not everything she said was correct. I asked her to calm down and told her we could talk when I arrived in Beijing, but she just went on and on and talked for about half an hour. That single phone call costed more than 30 dollars and was just a waste of time and money. Later, she made some significant mistakes when she was under pressure, which led to her demotion.
JH.L. was a project manager I worked with. He was a real jerk, and working with him was a nightmare. His project required us to travel to the city of Weifang constantly. Because there were very few flights from Beijing to Weifang, we had to stop in Tsingtao and have a taxi to transfer us there. Before one of my trips, I have already found a taxi driver who would pick me up, and he was only asking for about 50 dollars. However, JH.L asked me to use another driver he had arranged, and that costed more money. I couldn’t believe that when I arrived, JH.L was taking some cash from the driver and put it into his own pocket. Ericsson paid this guy more than 100,000 dollars a year, and yet he was taking advantage of a taxi driver… A few years later, he volunteered to be laid off and got a big package from Ericsson…
S.S. was the replacement of K.L. after she was demoted. He was overall a good manager. He was very good to me, and our team grew bigger and bigger under his management. However, he was not tough enough, especially when he was competing with other managers. Also his English was acceptable, but not good enough, which limited his chances of promotions in an international company. I don’t remember how many times I was asked to help him (also K.L. and some others) to correct the errors in his (and other managers’) emails to his bosses.
XR.L. was the manager of the project manager office in our department. She was the one I mentioned in another post, who made two of my two team members very upset. To be honest, she was not a bad manager, but was just so good at playing office politics. She was also a strong believer that project managers did not have to know about the technologies. One of the new project managers was reading some technical documents related to his project. She saw it and told him to stop. When this guy asked her how he could communicate with the engineers if he didn’t know what they were talking about, she told him that the only thing he had to do is to keep the project on time and on budget.
Ericsson used to be a great engineer-oriented company, but over the years, this engineering culture disappeared. More and more managers, especially in China, knew very little about the technologies. I could accept it if they did not interfere with the engineer’s work, but some of them were just so annoying. C.S. and Y.H. were two of them. They were not my managers, thankfully. I was having a meeting with their team and had to explain some customer requirements to them. They kept interrupting me and asked what this means and what that means, which was common knowledge that all the engineers already knew. So when it came to the last item of the requirements, I said to them “The following item is beyond what you could understand. I don’t think you two need to know what I’m going to explain here as long as it is clear to the engineers.” I could see their faces turning blue, but I didn’t think I was the first person who had said that to them.
I also worked with F.L. She also was not an expert of technology, but was still a great manager, as she knew how to delegate. Working with her was a pleasure, and she got everything right to the point.
The managers in Ericsson were also very keen on showing off how good their teams were. It was understandable, but sometimes it just had gone too far. Every time a project finished, they would send out emails telling everyone (especially their bosses) that their teams had made great contributions. If you look into the details, they probably only executed one test case (out of two thousand) for the project, which was not even designed by them.
J.S. was my boss when I was in the Systems and Technology team. He was an outstanding manager, and had solid technical background, which was very rare in Ericsson (in China). It was so comfortable working with him, and all our team members liked him. Unfortunately, he does not like playing office politics, otherwise he would have been in a much higher position.
My last manager in Ericsson was K.L. again. After her demotion, she got another opportunity and became the manager of a small team working on CI (Continuous Integration, a software engineering term). The last reorganization I went through had a big impact on me. The product I was working on was transferred to another country, so I had to find a new team. The System and Technology team of another department wanted to have me, but they did not have a headcount. So K.L. offered a headcount of hers to that team, so I could work in that team but she hoped I could “help” her CI team “sometimes”. Obviously the System and Technology team could not get a new headcount, so K.L. finally asked me if I could work for her full time. I accepted immediately as Howard and I already started planning on our marriage, and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I leave Ericsson. Most my colleagues were shocked about my decision, as it seemed to be an odd move… Even K.L. herself couldn’t believe I just accepted her offer so easily.
I left Ericsson at the beginning of September 2014, almost four months before I moved to Provincetown. I quit my job early as I was not at my best. My father’s death, and the torture of the immigration process just got me down.