Priorities, Values, and Goals in my Professional Career

In this document I try to summarize the most important values and principles in my professional career. I hope this will not only help me to prioritize different projects and decisions, but that this will give others the chance to have an inside view into my motivations.

There is no doubt tha the involvement in activities and jobs related to Digital Audio Signal Processing is most important to me. My whole life has been centered around music. Starting with studying classical piano for 10 years, trombone for 6 years, playing in bands, building a (home) recoding studio, learning jazz piano, to focusing on speech and audio signal processing in college and now at work: Music is an important and enlightening part of my life.

I consider myself very lucky since I never had to work in an environment, where the relationship among coworkers is only professional or where this relationship is based on very unpersonal, purely business related interaction. When talking to other friends that do not have this privelege I realize, that my coworkers are the second most important aspect for me. I want to work in an environment, where people are looking forward to the daily common lunch and where one will see familiar faces from work at parties on weekends or during spontaneous activities on a weeknight.

Continuing education and professional development are often seen as a required but "painful" activity, however, this is different for me. Maybe because I am a young professional. I am eager to learn and explore more areas and improve weaknesses. My employer should give me opportunities for professional development. This can happen in many ways, such as visiting conferences, writing papers, membership and participation in professional organizations, reading books, receiving or having access to mentoring and coaching resources, or receiving detailed feedback on work performance and related skills (incl. communication and "people" skills).

I recently began appreciating the next priority, the potential for long term, teambased projects or organizations. There is a lot of effort involved in setting up effective team structures, getting to know the different personalities and establishing a workflow that is tailored to that environment. I also consider a teamoriented approach the most effective and most fun way of working together with other engineers and researchers. Having enough time to create and work in these teams gives me great satisfaction. With that comes an interest in the emerging set of groupware applications and effective use of intranets for collaboration. Short term projects (<= 6 months) or one-guy-does-it-all type activities are less interesting to me.

As I am driven by the desire, to always perform as effectivly as possible, it is important to me to work in an organization that values an open and supportive infrastructure (including IT resources and networks, clear and supportive management, supportive legal department, etc.). It is extremely unsatisfactory to repeat the same work over and over again (rather than automate such a task). I also prefer to choose the right tools to get a job done (rather than having the tools dictating the work). Considering the long hours I spend using computer technology, I am eager to create an environment that allows me to be as flexible and productiv as possible.

A very frustrating experience is the confrontation with decisions, in which I do not know (and understand) the rational behind. This is specifically true for situations, in which my own work or life is affected by such a decision. I am also interested in the decision making process and (software) tools that support it. Therefore, I value an inside view and involvement into decision making in a company or organization.

I am also concerned with the type of products I am working on. I clearly favor a strive for excellence. These are usually non-mass products where the emphasise is on high quality rather than costeffective production. I don't have such a strong desire that I could not work for a mass-product company (obviously), but I would certainly be in a wrong position if my job would only be to design cost reduced equipment. In "my other life" (= in my private life) I also do not use little gadgets, electronic toys, or play video games. My motiviation at work is clearly driven by my interest in Audio Signal Processing, the possibilities to record, playback, analyze, modify and synthesize speech and sound. I strongly exclude military work from my field of interest.

While preparing and ranking this list of priorities, I was surprised to end up with the following value as the least important one: A flexible work environment. Flexible hours, possibility of telecommuting once in a while, leasure dress code, reading room ... These are all factors that will make working more fun.