On to the Next Barrel

Over the last few weeks I was given the opportunity to make one of the most difficult decisions in my life and certainly in my working life/career. I was presented a tremendous opportunity that has ultimately shaken me loose of my position as a Lead SEO at Distilled.

Leaving Home

When speaking about my decision with the senior staff at Distilled I likened it to the decision I made to leave uni on a one year hiatus to live in Spain. That decision was quite likely the single most decisive in my life to this point: I left behind everything that was comfortable, people I cared a great deal about and took a risk. That risk led to a change of events – more accurately a change of trajectory – that saw me move away from pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from a small liberal arts school in Maine to majoring in International Economics at the University of North Carolina.

I have made so many strong friendships and would not be the person I am today had I not taken that step – that risk – and I felt that now was as good a time as any to take another.

Much like that decision, Distilled is comfortable for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am challenged on a daily basis and the pace and turnover is such that there is always something new to learn. The point I really wish to make is that I think of Distilled as my professional family. The Distilled team, though perhaps most notably Duncan, Tom and Will have nurtured me and given me opportunities and access that I simply never could have gained anywhere else in my first year as a professional SEO.

I am extraordinarily grateful to my professional family for giving me these opportunities to excel and for helping me prepare for them. Without meaning to be overly humble I would be foolish not to accept that for all intents and purposes Distilled have shaped me and put me in a position of demand.

How Many Barrels?

Given the fact that Distilled is named after the process for maturing whiskey, I will try to liken my own professional and personal development to the process. Some whiskeys are drawn from a single barrel and often these are the best of whiskeys, but many others are aged in a handful of different barrels to give different notes.

So I look at it this way – at Distilled I have aged and matured a bit. Distilled likely has everything to offer that I would ever need to become a fine single barrel whiskey. However, for me to be the best whiskey in my views, it is well worth getting some more notes in there.

I don’t think it’s any secret that any SEO or anyone in a creative industry would eventually want to work for themselves. And that is absolutely my long term goal (hence in large part starting this website). However, the offer I accepted will give me opportunities to learn new things and accept new challenges.

It is, after all, only when I have taken new risks and tried new things that I have experienced meaningful growth and sometimes the most difficult decisions are the right ones.

So, What is the Role?

I have agreed to become an Associate Director of SEO at OMD UK. I have been brought on board to help Jaamit Durani build a team that can capably manage projects for major brands and websites and will continue working both technically but also on a more strategic level to help win new projects and make our clients websites more useful, meangingful and helpful and bring new streams of traffic and revenue to our clients work.

There are very few roles in this industry that could have tempted me away from Distilled – a few for other SEOs that I respect a great deal and feel I could learn from, a few that would provide me the right opportunity to take on a managerial/strategic role and a large client base more quickly – and, it just so happens that the offer I had standing in front of me was a rare combination of the two.

I will always cherish the support and opportunities Distilled have given me and know that without Tom and Will trusting me enough to thrust me into the spotlight on ocassion and out of my comfort zone I never would have found myself in this position so early on.

Finally, I just wanted to take the chance to thank you all for your support as I move on with this decision. It was a difficult one, as I have said, and it is a decision that I feel will be the right one for me in the long term. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Distilled will remain a leader in the SEO field globally and wanted to publically thank them for all they have given me.

I am hopeful that between Jaamit, myself and the rest of the OMD staff we too can build on something great and believe firmly that there will be plenty of new challenges, risks and lessons on the other side of this decision. I am very excited to be joining at such an exciting point and look forward to the new responsibilites.

Even Mushier Bit – Feel Free to Skip

Tom, Will, Duncan and the entire Distilled family – thank you so much for everything. I am looking forward to keeping in touch and just wanted you all to know how much I admire all that you have built without ever having taken funding. Distilled was and will continue to be a wonderful place to work and though I won’t be directly involved please let me know if you ever go public I believe you are the right people driving forward a wonderful company.

To the SEOmoz Bloggers list – I am extremely grateful to you all for sharing your wisdom with me, for supporting me and introducing me to helpful people, and obviously for the lulz. Please do not ever hesitate to ask a favour and know that I’m always itching to answer Q&A if you guys ever find yourself snowed in (though I’m sure that will never happen :-p). You know where to find me so don’t be a stranger!

To the rest of the search community – thank you for your understanding and support. This decision was not easy to make but knowing that there are so many of you on whom I can rely for a good chat or a good bitch is extremely reassuring.

Keep in Touch!

I always welcome a cheeky message on Twitter, a poke on Facebook, a message on LinkedIn or SEOmoz, or an email (you all know how to find me).

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