The Well-Examined Career

Todays young innovators couldnt care less about corporate ladders or corner offices. Theyre self-designing unique careers according to their personal interests and at their own hyperspeed pace.

Thomas S. Chin, 32, had a passion for software long before joining as a 22-year-old intern. Within two months, he was the start-ups chief scientist, working day and night.

There was a two- or three-year duration when I worked seven days a week. I was pretty much a workaholic, Chin recalls.

In 2000, at the age of 25, he retired with enough money to never have to work again. But retirement didnt last long. In 2005, Chin designed and developed BitShelter, an online object store system that operates on heterogeneous hardware. His current project is Photo­Shelter, an online archive and marketplace for professional photography.

Hayden Hamilton, 30, turned down a big promotion and ultimately left Ford Motor Co. after sending the companys executive leadership a memo outlining his ideas about huge opportunities he believed the automaker should exploit.

The VP said he thought they were fantastic ideas and wanted to promote me to be the right hand of the COO. But I came to realize that it would pull me in for the next several years and seriously put me on this path. I didnt think this was what I wanted to do with my life, he recalls.

Ari Juels, 37, chief scientist and director at RSA Laboratories, took what he calls a significant detour into the realm of literature before shifting into technology. He has completed a novel, which an agent is now promoting, and he has an avid interest in tea, Daoism and the contemplative life.

The drive for technology and the current economic mentality aims at the production of more wealth, Juels says. I hope technology can be commandeered to solve the problem of human happiness. That could mean a cleaner environment or richer human contact. It means changing the mind-set with which we apply technology.

At RSA Laboratories, Juels is working on identity authentication technology in the form of a key fob that will automatically transfer a users personal information and preferences to any device from a telephone or vending machine to a supercomputer.

I do try to make a stronger connection between security and human needs than I think has been traditional in my field, he says. Its personally fulfilling to see technologies translated into products.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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