“Work-life balance is just a joke; it never actually happens in the IT industry”
Raven Hoang - Engineering Manager at Axon (Part 2)
Since working as an Engineering Manager at Axon, my ability to work under pressure has reached new level. Axon provides public safety services to the US government, and in terms of security, there are many other departments that check the code. For example, when coding, customer information cannot be looped, such as if a police department’s information is leaked, it can be very dangerous. On the product, permissions are also very clear, who can view the evidence and who cannot, all must comply with very clear laws. If my team makes a small mistake, the backlash can be huge because everything is related to people, government, and laws. Therefore, working is quite stressful haha.
I feel fortunate that I am the father of three kids, so there are many “convenient conditions” to easily adapt to the “harsh” working environment at Axon. When I first joined Axon, my child was still newborn, and it was also the most stressful phase of my life. My children cried at night, and I still had to work, and could not sleep… Gradually, it created a new habit for me, helping me to “remain calm amidst the ever-changing flow of life”, focusing even when outside is noisy, staying up late, waking up early, multitasking more because I’m used to taking care of my children while working.
There was a period when my third child had a tumor in the womb and had to undergo surgery for about a month. My wife worried about the child in the hospital, while I stayed at home taking care of the two older children, taking them to school, feeding them, bathing them, and also managing the team, coding, delivering to customers… Meetings often took place at 11-12 pm or 3-4 am because I had to work with the US team. I worked at night, took care of my two children during the day, and had no time to sleep. There were times when I thought I couldn’t get through it, I might have to give up something, like quitting my job to take care of my children. But as a Manager, I couldn’t do that, my responsibility to the company was also very huge. So I only had one way, to make 1000% effort to both complete my work and take care of my family. Work-life balance is just a joke, it never happens in the IT industry haha. Especially when you are in a developing country like Vietnam, if you don’t try my best, you will easily be laid off.
I usually think for the present, easily move on from the past, but if I can change it, I want to go back about 3-4 years ago, I really want to build a community that has value for Vietnamese dev brothers, such as in the frontend field. I have a former colleague who created the Testing Vietnam community, spending a lot of time and effort guiding newbies in testing, showing them what they need to learn… After 3-4 years, this project is so successful, and now the course certificate he created is even valuable in universities, some universities even invite him to teach. I realize that this is a great thing, giving great value to the community, helping many young Vietnamese friends, guiding them into the tech industry. So, whoever can, I advise you to give value to the community, build communities, work on open-source projects… and someday you will be rewarded properly.
Now I have a family and young children, I no longer have as much free time as before, so building a community can easily lead to burnout. However, anyone interested in Axon, frontend topics, or engineering management topics, I am always ready to share!