Why I am a Project Manager instead of a programmer


Part 1

But attitude. You either have it, or you don’t. The right sort of person is so passionate about coding, they can’t be stopped from doing it. They typically started before high school — sometimes before middle school — and never looked back. They write everything from assembly to jQuery, on PCs to mobile phones, doing hard core computer graphics to high level social networking. They’ve tried everything.—David Barrett

That's not quite me. I can program and have fun doing it, but I'm not compelled to code. But the thing I can't be stopped from doing is trying to make sense. Clarifying, sorting out, getting to the bottom of, making sense of.

Part 2

"[The US Federal pay system] is unacceptable to taxpayers, unfair to federal employees who work hard, and won't continue as long as I am chairman," [Rep.] Ross said. "America has put men on the moon, taught the world to fly, and cured disease. We can figure out how to create a performance-based payroll system that works.—Federal Times

Since we've done the technical achievements Ross mentions, but haven't created a performance-based payroll system that works, I argue that the latter is actually harder. And it's challenges of collective action that I find more engaging, and better suited to my abilities, than direct technical work.

Interesting trivia: I've read that Neil Armstrong was a GS-14 when he walked on the moon, although that factoid neither supports nor challenges the validity of the General Schedule. Also, I can't find a direct reference, and this and this don't quite line up.