Joanie has a conversation with Paul Johnson, Partner and Managing Director of Essilen Research. Essilen is a consulting company that helps tech leaders build robust and reliable tech organizations. Paul has over 20 years of experience at Qualcomm, where he worked his way up from a software developer to a senior director of engineering, overseeing a worldwide team of hundreds of engineers. He has some great stories and insights to share.
Q: What brought you to San Diego from Canada?
“I went to the University of Waterloo, which is famous for engineering and for doing internships, and lots of companies around the world go there to recruit. I did an internship at Qualcomm and came back after college.”
Q: You have a bit of a unique story working for Qualcomm for over 20 years. The company went from rapid growth to reductions in teams. What did you learn from that?
“It was the number one company on the NASDAQ when I joined in ’99. You feel kind of invincible when it’s like that. It’s really exhilarating, and you feel like you’re going to change the world. I did learn how to be a software engineer, professionally, how to add value, how to crank and get my technical chops up. But then, as the years went by, what made it so interesting to stay at one company, which is a little unusual these days, is that you get to see the arc of how things can change.”
“A huge lesson learned that I use in consulting is that you can’t grow out of all your problems. When you’re growing, you kind of feel that way, that you can keep growing and it will go away. Another one is the importance of seeing when growth outpaces processes.” To hear Paul’s examples and his challenges with layoffs, listen to the episode.
In this episode, you’ll also hear Paul’s insights on how to prepare for the unexpected (such as a pandemic), the surprising thing that helped Paul develop his people management skills, and how he founded his consulting company, Essilen Research, and what they do.
Words of Wisdom:
It’s really hard to unwind processes that you didn’t set up right.
Get into the habit of writing down how you work at your company.
People change a lot and it has a lot to do with incentives at work.
It’s not about navigating prickly people, it’s about debugging what’s behind people.
You need feedback to have a world class team.
Contact Paul Johnson for a free consultation: