William Ghelfi


Don't wait till it's too late

Don't wait till it's too late

A cautionary tale about staying instead of leaving

William Ghelfi's photo
William Ghelfi
·Jun 9, 2021·

3 min read

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Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

Honeymoon and divorce

Back in 2004, I joined a promising local project and then got hired by the company behind it. Second hire ever.

Fast forward to 2014, I was R&D Director, one of the two technical leads under the CTO, and so culturally unfit to the transforming company that my health was paying the price.

I had to go, and quick.

But it wasn't sudden: the red flags were there, and I chose to ignore them because I felt I had to stay. And then I couldn't take it anymore, my heart couldn't possibly take it anymore.

To hell and back - Part I

So I went unemployed, then started to look for a new position.
It took me four months to find a position in a health-tech company: I knew there were strict regulations, big political inside fights, miles, and miles of red tape, but I needed the job so I convinced myself that I would just "adult" a little more and it would be just fine.

Too short, too little

No sir, two years later enough was already enough and I took a job at a startup just to get out of all that red tape.

But then, ten months later, in July 2017 the startup ran out of funds and I was unemployed again. Only this time my wife was pregnant.

To hell and back - Part II

After some more months of unemployment (thank you, Italian taxpayers!) I started collaborating with a small local company whose founders and employees I had befriended during my time at the startup, because we were working out of the same co-working space.

Almost, but still no

But they couldn't afford my rate (senior, sole breadwinner, wife pregnant), so I kept looking and found a position at another company that was looking for someone to help improve their technical skills.

But this company was the biggest I had worked with, and the technological renewal I was to spearhead was proceeding at a slower pace than I had imagined.

Now we are talking!

So two years later in 2020 I once again found myself at another company, and this time everything seems to be going well.

We have problems, we fix them. We have plans, we follow them. Something unexpected happens, we adapt.

And this, kids, is how I met your mother

I was thinking about all of this and I realized that it took me six years to recover from a single bad decision in 2014.

All of this uncertainty, all the struggles, unemployment, fearing of not being able to provide for my newborn child, all of it I could have avoided had I not waited so long before admitting that I had to leave my mother company.

I could have started looking for a new position, and with better pay, long before I just had to go to avoid a literal heart attack.

And this is my advice to you: always, always, always keep looking, interviewing, talking with people.

The company that pays you is rarely your family; and even when it is, things happen.

Be prepared.