My Job Stalled When…

When companies stumble and promotions turn bad.


My Job Stalled When: My Company Stumbled

All-Star Driver: From April 1996 to March 1998, Rich Coulter, now 45, was director of intranet-server development at Netscape Communications.


Running on Empty: When he signed on with Netscape, Coulter thought he was joining a hot company with unlimited potential. But in January 1998, Netscape announced an estimated loss of more than $80 million for the fourth quarter and reduced its workforce by 10%. “I started drafting an exit plan as soon as I heard that the company was offering severance packages – but no incentive plans for people who, like me, wanted to stay.”

At the Pump: Two months later, Coulter landed a job as vice president of engineering and network operations at Pocket Science Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based company that makes port-able-email technology. “If I wasn’t going to be a VP at Netscape,” says Coulter, “I might as well be a VP at a startup.”

Take-Away: If your company isn’t moving forward, then neither are you – and it might be time to move on.

Coordinates: Rich Coulter,

My Job Stalled When: I Got Too Many Promotions

All-Star Driver: In 1997, Chris Fahlbush, now 38, was director of software development in Network General Corp.’s Beaverton, Oregon office. (Network General merged with McAfee Associates in December 1997. The new company was named Network Associates.)

Running on Empty: Fahlbush advanced rapidly at Network General. But he’d gone from being a hands-on software developer to being a supervisor who was spread so thin that his staffers seemed like cogs instead of colleagues. “I realized that my dream situation would involve creating my own product and bringing it to market.”


At the Pump: After interviewing with Dynamics Research Corp., Fahlbush decided that a small division of it that creates telephone-fraud detection systems best fit his criteria. He joined the company as a software manager last December, taking a 19% pay cut and surrendering stock options valued in five figures.

Take-Away: Sometimes, to get to where you really want to be, you have to give something up.

Coordinates: Chris Fahlbush,

My Job Stalled When: My Mentor Recruited Me

All-Star Driver: Andrew Watson, 38, was a vice president at Global Village Communication Inc. from July 1995 to September 1996.

Running on Empty: In fact, Watson’s career was firing on all cylinders. He was happy at Global Village and had no reason to leave – until Doug Johns took him to lunch in August 1996. The two men had worked together at Compaq Computer Corp. in the early 1990s. Johns, now 49, had devised much of the game plan that had transformed Compaq from an also-ran into a world beater. He had retired from Compaq in 1993.

At the Pump: Watson walked into a job interview disguised as a lunch date. Johns was launching Monorail Computer Corp., and he wanted Watson to be his VP of marketing. “Doug didn’t come out of retirement to do something small,” Watson says. “I gave notice a week after I met with him.”


Take-Away: You don’t work for a company; you work with people. When the right people make an offer, don’t look back.

Coordinates: Andrew Watson,