Red Hat – Phoenix, AZ
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I worked at Red Hat full-time (More than 8 years)
I worked at RHT 9 years. Red Hat at one time was a place where you had ultimate freedom to define your own career. When I first started and in to about my 7th year I had 100% autonomy. That all changed, and is one of the major motivators in me departing. I am not sure if this was a one off or a company-wide trend. The management team for the most part is competent and looks out for the staff. There are lots of bright people at Red Hat, especially in the OpenStack BU where I worked. Red Hat has the best OpenStack development team in the world, so if that is your focus, there is no better place to land. I learned significantly on Red Hat's dime, especially about team leadership. I'm not sure any other company would have supported my learning experience as effectively. Clearly we can't rerun that experiment ;) Red Hat has a fantastic IRC and mailing list culture designed to implement a globally distributed engineering workforce. This is its greatest pro, especially if you work from home.
I thought the pay was solid after racking up 8+ years of core+ RSU awards at the PSE level. I honestly didn't think I could earn more, and Cisco offered 100k more total comp (although the job has slightly more responsibility). So I guess the pay is bad, even for highly experienced people, although I can hardly complain - my total comp has 5*'ed in the last 10 years. Red Hat at the PSE and above level is highly political even in engineering, which is fine - its like that everywhere, but if your expecting some daisy dream of no political behavior because Red Hat has open source roots, forget about it. Red Hat values internal influence more then external influence mainly because many if its staff have wide influence over a variety of communities through their actions. Internal influence is highly regarded as a result and highly guarded as well. As Red Hat becomes larger, some managers are out of their depth. In 99% of cases, a manager will do the right thing for the right reason. Then there is the 1% action that results in a terrible outcome that is a mistake even a rookie manager wouldn't dare make. Red Hat believes in the 1:25 philosophy so if you need much hand holding this isn't the place for you. To keep on top of the system, you have to perform, which may mean long hours especially if ramping up on new tech.
Advice to Management
High performance team building 101: 1. give a team a mission impossible 2. 100% autonomy 3. A strong fearless leader with open source experience. Rinse and repeat and your company will become much stronger then it is now. If your a senior directors/VP you should know this already but don't muck in other people's affairs - it just runs off good employees. Split PSE into two grades, or promote PSE to SPSE without an act of god. The PSE rank has a wide variance of skills with people "barely getting by" to people that are ready to leave the company that have not yet plateaued in career growth. There is no technical ladder - it really is not that hard to fix - just add more grades! I'd recommend a grade between SSE and PSE. Cisco calls this grade "Technical Leaders".