Defining Career Moment: A night out in Japan & a call from the boss…

The Cambridge dictionary describes a career-defining moment or action as “one that is very important in making someone successful in their job, or in deciding how they will be remembered.” At Mantech, we have talked about such moments a lot recently, and have decided to share some of ours to give you an insight into who the team are, and how they came to be where they are now.  Here, one of our Senior Consultants Stephen Winnick talks about a sticky situation with his boss, and how, against the odds, he managed to come out on top.

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Those who know me understand that transparency and no nonsense, no BS, is my modus operandi. Sometimes that can get me into trouble, but most of the time it is appreciated. Luckily on this occasion it was the latter as it involved the CEO of Symbian, the software company I was working for at the time.

I was on holiday in Japan and was in a taxi on my way home from a big night out with my wife, which involved dancing on bars, drinking with yakuza and weird fish tanks, but that is for another time. My phone rang, I looked and saw it was the CEO

“I better take this…. Hello Nigel”

“Steve, I need your help. I am stuck in Italy and need to get to my hotel in time for the world cup final.”

“I am sorry, it is 5am and I have been out drinking all night in Tokyo, not sure how much help I can be.”

“HA HA, hope you had a good night. You are the only one who can help me. I am using one of the beta apps you loaded on my phone.”

Maybe now is a good time to explain what I did for work. I was working for a company which developed operating systems for smart phones; among other things I worked with a lot of beta apps, testing and trialling them on a range of phones based on versions of our operating system. The app in question was a GPS mapping app well before google maps was on every phone. It required a separate GPS receiver and a special trial version of the app with a specific code and configuration to enable it. I was the only one with the bits and pieces to make it work.

“Ok mate, when I get back to the hotel I will sort it out for you.”

So as my Mrs crashed on the surprisingly comfortable futon, I pulled out my laptop and with a little difficulty focusing, got the CEO going again.

“Thanks Steve,  I knew I could count on you.”

I am not sure how happy he was to actually watch the game though, as England went down to South Africa 15-6.

So how is this a career defining moment I hear you ask. I do not have a technical background, yet within a short time in a new job, I became the go to guy for a number of technically focused activities. It validated something which I had always known, that my adaptability and quick grasp of new information was tangible and one of my strongest competencies . Time and again I have taken a new direction and almost always been successful.

In fact, it was this self-belief in my own abilities coupled with my experience with recruiters who could not easily put me in a box, which lead to me taking a job at Mantech 6 years ago. Sometimes,  the most value that someone brings to a new job is not easily found in a resume.


Do you have a career moment you’d like to share for a chance to win a $150 David Jones gift card?  Like the Mantech Careers Facebook page, then tell us about your experience in the comments of the ‘Jerry Maguire’ post.  Entires close 7pm AEDST Tuesday December 6th 2016.


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Steve Winnick

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