Systems Engineering Team Lead at WTW - Job Desc

written by Jeff Cook on 2019-03-25

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I recently escaped the role "Systems Engineering Team Lead - DevOps" at Willis Towers Watson's "Individual Marketplace" Medicare Exchange, part of their Benefits Delivery and Administration business group. This company was formerly known as "Towers Watson's OneExchange" and "ExtendHealth", among other monikers.

I wrote this summary of my real-world job duties after a particularly frustrating afternoon in January. It has held up well as an accurate reflection of the job duties.

You can see the role already being re-advertised here. Since LinkedIn et al don't have an "ask the previous incumbent" button next to the "Apply" button, making a post about the reality of what to expect is the least I can do.

If you're a candidate, please don't let yourself get duped into accepting this role. I left after 9 months; my predecessor left after 8; his predecessor also lasted less than a year. As this turnover pattern demonstrates, the powers-that-be will not allow this role to make any of the changes necessary for improvement, despite the representations made in the interview process. You will be a patsy.

Talent is actively fleeing WTW, and with so many promising employers in the area, there is no need to fall into this trap. Don't let yourself become sucker #5.

More background on the experience here will be forthcoming, but for now, there's no need to cause yourself this hurt.

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Systems Engineering Team Lead - Infrastructure Job Description

We need a person-manager to help us manage and maintain a Windows server farm and move it into "the cloud" where all the cool kids hang out. There are lots of Windows servers to move. Isn't that exciting?!

Only a tiny fraction of the system runs on non-Windows, so some familiarity is useful, but the experience will be nothing like represented in the interview, where things are made to sound like non-Microsoft platforms are gaining ground. Do not be deceived -- we are a Microsoft shop through and through. All non-Microsoft solutions will be cleansed from the environment as soon as a Microsoft solution providing a farcical semblance of the functionality is available.

We will literally bring people on the MS payroll to your office to ensure that there are not non-Microsoft products in use. They'll even grill you if you're using Microsoft products that aren't Microsoft-ish enough, like GitHub. (n.b.: GitHub does NOT run on Windows).

Technical decision-making is done at the corporate level and is not negotiable. We implement their decisions. This job is strictly about following orders and keeping the team in line. Any decision-making authority that leaks out is accidental and transient. "Ours is not to ask why, but to do and die", as the saying goes.

You will lead one team in a group. Please keep your focus strictly on your own team. Do not ask about the other teams or their projects because it will be interpreted as unwelcome scrutiny. Do not suggest that the other teams share some of the work because we do not want to make them sad. The other teams focus on developer tools and do not want real production responsibilities.

Likewise, please do not direct your attention anywhere outside of your own JIRA board. Remember, if your Project and/or Product Manager (we're not sure what the difference is, so we just obey both) has not put it on your JIRA board, it is not your concern.

Day to day, your job tasks will include:

Come join us in this exciting role. We have free soda (for some people) and can sometimes wear shorts to the office.

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