The big transition

Sixty days worth of anxiety and stress came to a crashing halt yesterday when I sat down with my boss and told him that I was resigning from DynCorp and would be leaving within the week.

That end date is now about five days away, and I’m looking back and wondering how in the world I kept it all together for that long.

In any case, I’ll do this newspaper style and put it up top that in five days, I’ll fly from Kabul to Dubai where I’ll stay for 4-5 days. The second day in Dubai, I will officially be employed by an NGO working here in Afghanistan called Chemonics. I’ll sign a new one-year contract – putting my return date to the United States in late June 2012. My new job title is Finance Systems Developer, and I’ll be . . . developing finance systems.

After a few days in Dubai to get my new Afghan visa, I will fly directly back to Kabul where I’ll be working for the next couple of weeks. After that, I’ll travel to Kandahar, where I’ll work very near KAF. I will travel to Lakshar Gah as well, which is a little northwest of Kandahar.

This whole bit of business was what was burning a hole in my brain over the last couple of weeks, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because of uncertainty and a whole ton of timetables that could be ruined if the wrong people knew the wrong things. It was miserable.

But all of that is out of the way now, and I’m just in waiting mode to move from Camp Gibson, to the airport then to what will be short vacation in Dubai.

Why would I think to take a different job here in Afghanistan and push my return date out by three months? The truth of that matter can be seen in a couple of posts I wrote here in the last 60 days. One post described what I was hired to do and the next post, a couple of weeks later, described what I was really doing since I arrived. The difference is very striking. So there was a feeling that I wasn’t working the job I had been hired to do. But I had reconciled myself to that (that’s an accountancy pun, by the way.)

But the key that I haven’t shared with most people is a twist that only those who have worked on Department of State, Defense or USAID contracts can really grasp quickly. I arrived, signed a one-year contract, and only then was told that the contract that my company DynCorp had with the Department of State, was over at the end of June. So in effect, my job was going to be done, just about 90 days after I signed a one-year contract. In a sad moment, I saw the plans I had carefully crafted and all the sacrifices I had made slipping away into meaninglessness. Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic – I’m not a teenage girl – but it was very disappointing.

That same day I arrived, April 8th, I received word from this other company that there was a position for me if I was interested. What I thought was, “Hell yes I’m interested! Get me out of this clap-trap!” But what I filtered that to was, “Yes.”

It took several weeks to finalize the job description, get an offer letter, and go the rest of the way through the hiring process. In the meantime, rumors about the future of Camp Gibson and the DynCorp contract were new every day. On Monday, the camp was surely going to be demolished, and on Tuesday, the Camp was going to be expanded to contain a US Embassy facility. On Wednesday, it was barbeque day and the rumors suddenly all had their mouths full, so less misinformation happened on that day. But on Thursday it was back on, and somehow, Sasquatch was part of the rumors – a whole family of them would be moving into the area near the water purification plant. I was confused and not happy – I was settling into the job, had made lots of friends, and had developed two large databases that required some maintenance. I wanted to stay and to go at the same time. I didn’t want to leave the relationships, especially with the locals, and I didn’t want to leave process improvements that were brand new. The idea of those improvements falling to the side without my guidance, and employees going back to the old way of doing things was hard to stomach.

But finally, I was cleared to take the new job and resigned yesterday. In the afternoon, even more rumors started to circulate, and though there were new rumors even this morning, I am very glad to have found a place to go, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Several of my coworkers are excited for me, but have said that if they had an opportunity like this, they would take it as well.

I’m not sure that all of them would have taken the job if they had gone through what I did. Chemonics had many hoops to jump through as well, and the compensation and benefits package changed on almost a daily basis, making the decision process difficult. The possibility of coming home earlier than in August for my first leave, was brought up and I rejoiced, but then the possibility was reduced to nothing, and I lamented. In the end, I had to just stick with a decision and take job that I knew would be around for the entire year, as long as I could perform well.

So now that is the only anxiety. I’ll be developing databases, web portals, and process improvements. This new company is reputed to have even fewer controls and systems for accounting, so if my 60 days at DynCorp is any indication of how my year with Chemonics will go, then I should be okay.

But there you have it. The big transition.

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2 Responses to The big transition

  1. Um….wow! Crizazy stuff Adam. All that and an engagement. I hope everything works out just the way you want.

    • Adam says:

      I do too. I know some people might not make these kind of sacrifices of time and travel, but I think it’s going to be a good thing in the long run. We’ll see.