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I am a software developer with about 2 years of experience in the role and I have decided that I don't really enjoy my job as much. I much more enjoy the business side of things. If I continue going down the current career trajectory, I might have a chance to become a tech lead in about 8-10 years - which is not what I really want.

I want to move away from the tech side of things (or roles that require making a lot of tech decisions) and move more into business and management (not necessarily even working in the tech industry). While I understand that I might need to start from the bottom again to reach that level, what is the most reasonable path to take in this situation?

  • Getting an MBA and/or Business degree?
  • What junior business positions should I be looking at more?
  • Try working for big companies like IBM, Accenture with a strong focus on business?

I'm rather excited that I've actually made the decision that I want to change my career path but I'm not sure where to start. It won't be possible in my current company because they operate a linear path policy for devs, where you go from junior to regular, to senior, to principal and finally to a tech lead position (which is a dead-end for many tech-people).

Does anyone have any experience by moving away from tech-related roles?

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A few ideas how to approach this

  1. "business-focussed" and "managerial" are really two different things. The former focuses on business cases, financial metrics, market/customer analysis, product requirements, etc. The latter on people: hiring, performance managements, org structure, dealing with people problems, people development, etc. Be clear about which one you want to focus on: The required skills and experience are almost orthogonal
  2. Find people in your current work place that you think are doing what you want to do: connect with them, learn about what they do, what they like/don't-like about it and try to calibrate your mental image to reality
  3. If you find a person/role that sounds interesting, offer to help out a bit. Basically shadow and do some minor tasks on the side. See if you get the hang of it. You probably would want to tell your manager about this, but most managers will have no problem with this.
  4. Once you feel you have a clear picture of your target: you can strategize how to get there:
  5. Maybe you can soft-transition in your existing job. Work with your leadership to gradually morph from dev to business by adjusting day-to-day tasks and putting enough mentoring and training in place to support this. Many orgs will be fine with: business people with a solid real-world technical background are valuable.
  6. Take a bunch of relevant online classes (free or low cost) to explore the academic/learning side of the field. Figure out what works for you and what interests you. It will help you assess a more formal (and more expensive) curriculum later
  7. If your current org will not support you, you probably need to look outside or do most of the prep work after hours. There are many employers that offer academic development and tuition reimbursement. That would be an indication that they support employee development and growth.
  8. MBA (in the US) are very expensive, so I'd recommend doing a thorough business analysis on whether this worth it or not. A data point could be, again, your current employer or your network. Figure out who has an MBA and talk to them how useful it was or is and how they feel about it today.

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