I Need Your Help! (Please Read and Share)

I will be unemployed as of September 30, 2017.

It has been said that finding a job is a matter of who you know (while keeping a job is a matter of what you know). Thanks to social media (and this blog), I know a lot of people. And now I’m asking my friends and connections for their help.

I would never ask anyone to give me a job. What I am asking for is your assistance in finding a new job – via referrals, introductions, tips, etc.

Here are the details:

What Happened

I’ve just passed my four year anniversary at NetDimensions, where I am Head of SaaS Operations. NetDimensions is a global software company based in Hong Kong. The primary product is a Learning Management System (LMS) and it is sold into what we term “high consequence industries” – meaning industries where the use of an LMS is an essential requirement (rather than a “nice to have”) and plays a role in improving or saving lives. Our client list is terrific – we’re especially strong in the healthcare and life sciences industries and we also have clients such as Cathay Pacific, Jaguar Land Rover, and KPMG. NetDimensions also has an amazing track record in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility – one prime example being our association with LINGOs.

In my role as Head of SaaS Operations, I’ve been managing cloud hosting for the approximately 45% of our clients who want us to host the application for them rather than manage it themselves. We do this in four data centers around the world and I have a staff of 12 (based in Hong Kong, Manila and the U.S.). Our hosting operations are ISO 27001 certified. Some of our hosting services fall under 21 CFR Chapter 11 in the U.S., GxP in the EU – validated services for companies in the life sciences industry. I’m heavily involved in security and compliance – particularly in areas impacted by Brexit and GDPR, as well as the handling of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) (which is subject to different regulations around the globe).

I think it would be fair to say that NetDimensions’ stock price in 2016 was low enough relative to revenue and opportunity to make the company appear attractive to potential buyers. Sure enough, a number of companies started approaching NetDimensions about a possible sale at the end of 2016. NetDimensions was purchased in March, 2017.

The new owners are something of an “umbrella” corporation, with five other companies in their portfolio all involved in different aspects of the e-learning industry. They have a great portfolio but none of their other companies have a product that is as complex as ours, nor do they sell into the same market segments that we do. Acquiring us was a big win for them. There are a number of potential synergies and I expect that they will take excellent advantage of them.

In the weeks following the acquisition, the NetDimensions CEO (and co-founder) and CFO have both departed and my manager (the other co-founder, who uses the title of Chief Scientist) will be gone next month. Our head of HR has left, as have several key salespeople and account managers. One of our two U.S. offices is in the process of shutting down.

The new owners are looking to consolidate operations, as you would well expect, and have stated a distinct preference for conducting support operations in the US and the UK rather than in Asia.

As a result, about one-third of the NetD staff has received redundancy notices, with more expected by the end of the month.

My entire team will be let go – myself included – and the Manila office is being completely shut down. As I mentioned, my last day with the company will be September 30th. The new owners have announced that they will not stand in our way should we find a new position and wish to leave prior to the termination date.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m not thrilled about having to search for a new job again. I’m good at many things but self-marketing has never been one of them. The last time I was out of work, it took me nine months to find another permanent position. I’m hoping that I’ve learned from the mistakes I made last time and that I will find something a bit sooner this time.

My Background

I’ve been working in the Information Technology field for 30 years. I’ve held a wide range of senior roles – regional IT Director, global CIO, program manager, operations director and others. I’ve worked for a broad variety of companies – major MNC’s including Warner Bros., Merrill Lynch, Barclays Bank, Sybase; smaller companies and start-ups including Outblaze, Red Flag Group, Yipes and NetDimensions. I have 20 years experience working in the Asia Pacific region – managing projects, support, staff, vendors and business relationships in almost every country in the region including Mainland China, Japan, India and Australia/New Zealand.

You can check out my profile on LinkedIn for further details on my background.

I am an American citizen and have Permanent Resident status in both Hong Kong and the Philippines. For now I will be concentrating my job search in Hong Kong but I am open to working just about anywhere – I will go where the work is.

My References

Jay Shaw, former NetDimensions CEO: Steve Schechter is a thorough, thoughtful IT executive who takes charge and follows through. He knows how to manage both projects and people and he is not afraid of challenges. His broad experience gives him a perspective on what’s practical, both from the technology and commercial angles, and he knows how to make things work. He’s also a pleasure to work with.

Koji Hase, former head of Warner Home Video Asia Pacific and co-inventor of the DVD: I will not spend time to talk about his knowledge and experience in filmed entertainment, people management in Asia regions and MIS. More essentially, Steve is a very balanced executive, and his output is trustworthy. In particular, it was important for Warner Bros., an American company, to have someone who knows both the U.S. way and Asian traditional way of doing business. Steve could bridge the two worlds.

Sherrie Brown Littlejohn, EVP Wells Fargo: Steve can be counted on to deliver value with the business interest at the heart of any decision. He is collaborative, thoughtful, and conscientious about costs and quality. Steve delivers.

Clarence Lo, VP Warner Home Entertainment: As an IT professional, Steve of course has very good knowledge in MIS systems and its applications for both the company and the clients. What makes him unique is his willingness to meet and work with his clients in person and to understand their needs and challenges no matter how far it needs to take. With excellent interpersonal skills and understanding of the retail business, he is the ideal business partner for you to earn your client’s trust & confidence. He has ample experience in Asia Pacific and is a true IT leader in this region.

Mohan Veloo, VP F5 Networks: At Yipes we were exposed to a very dynamic, high growth and extremely demanding environment. Steve was always cool under pressure from the top, and provided not only stable grounding for the team, but an environment where we could thrive and excel. He is one the best managers I’ve ever worked for!

My Plan

Initially I will focus my job search on Hong Kong, although I am willing to consider relocation anywhere for the right position with the right company.

I will be in Hong Kong for Cloud Expo Asia on May 24th and 25th and will look to spend as much time in Hong Kong as possible in the coming weeks and months, hoping to join relevant networking events and so that I’m available for meetings at short notice.

How You Can Help

  • Share this article with friends and business contacts as you see appropriate
  • Introduce me to people or recommend people I should reach out to
  • Recommend companies that I should investigate
  • Recommend networking events and meet-ups that I should attend or groups that I should join

As I said, I would never ask anyone to give me a job. All I want is the opportunity to interview and present my case. I am confident in my abilities. I know I have a lot to contribute and look forward to bringing my knowledge and experience to another company in the (hopefully) near future.

Thanks for reading this and thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer.