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From Fathom to ADG; Excitement, trepidation and emotions in between

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Aug. 10th, 2011 | 05:19 pm

I am excited to announce a big professional step, as I formally join the team at ADG Creative in Columbia, MD next week. Aside from the awesome commute (driving opposite of traffic and avoiding continued support of the oppressive WMATA regime), I am stepping into a digital strategy role, alongside a pretty darn swell design and development team that has been doing their thing for better than 20 years. Their work, trajectory and goals are all inspiring, and I am humbled to be hand-picked as a piece of that story. All of this leads to the big, obvious question…

"Why are you leaving Fathom!? That place is awesome!" I can't agree more. Let's take a stroll in the way back machine. I started at Fathom as a designer fresh out of school in 2006. I had lots of big ideas, a diversity of interests spanning both print and digital—creative and tech. At the time, I was a big part in re-jumpstarting our interactive team on the technical side, as well as maturing our process and creating our UX tools that exist today. That came via a big thanks to Fathom for giving me unparalleled freedom to explore new ideas, technologies and strategies—then being amenable to and even embracing change I collaborated in. I've made friends that will last a lifetime, had the crazy office parties that will go down in folklore history, attended/organized eccentric gatherings for both work and community outreach, and fostered an impressive tech community via our gallery space. My role has transcended designer and developer, evolving into end-to-end assistance and guidance—from estimate and pitch, through user experience strategy and production, into launch and setting maintenance goals. With a focus in strategy, I've kept my paper cups listening in on a variety of other roles, supporting my team to the fullest of my ability and energy. I've identified with Fathom = myself and myself = Fathom. For that, I am grateful, and being one of Fathom's biggest fans won't fade.

Through all of this, my big 5-year anniversary hit me. Despite my emotional attachments to the place, and a retrospect of personal and professional growth that would be unmatched by the average "job", I took the opportunity to step outside of my situation and objectively look at my career path. Five years is twice the industry average for retention. It is also dangerous to stay in the same place for that long so soon out of school (not *knowing* how green the grass is over the fence). I'd been content with bouncing ideas off of the same team for too long, albeit with great success, without considering what I am missing in terms of how other agencies think about or approach the same problems. That experience is critical to a strategist and integral to my growth within the user experience vertical.

That is where ADG comes in. The culture isn't entirely different, which is comforting, but their process is different. Their clients are different. The team is different. The fruit that I picked and enjoyed at Fathom will be very different from that of ADG, but both will gel together to allow me to compare and contrast experiences in each new recommendation I make.

And what does this all mean for Fathom, the meetup groups, ongoing projects, and more? Well, both a lot and not much. I mean, without being big-headed, there will be shoes to fill. However, I've spent the last couple of years helping cultivate everything I do around me—both for my own professional growth (it's better to collaborate) and for Fathom's infrastructure. The team here is still awesome. We share and mentor. I've spent the last month making sure project transitions are as smooth as possible and have left my IM/email door open in case there are the inevitable "what did he/she say in that conference call about xyz" questions. Your project is in good hands.

I'll continue my liaison role with the meetup groups. Frankly, Fathom loves having you here. They'd keep you even if I decided not to attend anymore. We'll still have the chairs up and the ice buckets out. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for you, however, I'll still be attending all of the meetups. I am as addicted to tech as Fathom is and just because I now have to commute to the meetup like you do, doesn't mean I don't have a lot to gain from hanging out with you guys and continuing to act as tour guide to the history of the cool building.

And what's my new role exactly? Digital whatsy-hoozie? My title is "digital strategist", but ultimately I'll be continuing to do a lot of what I do now. My focus will be in listening to clients, researching their product climate, audiences, etc. to give them great recommendations, then in shuttling those solutions on the inside. I'll help brainstorm and assemble a variety of project specification documents, help fine-tune processes, and collaborate on nifty internet things with which to save the world.

Farewell Fathom! It's been an amazing journey. Now, on to the next chapter—ADG here I come! :D

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