I joined Cloudreach in June 2019, back when life was a little more normal.
I’d spent the previous 16 years working as a sysadmin / manager in London universities, and the shift from public to private sector, from on-prem metal and cabling to cloud was enormous for me. While I found this all pretty hard at first, good support and the right people and projects made all the difference…
Why would I leave the comfort of being an expert in a safe job with a ridiculously good pension to join the private sector in a role I knew very little about? I asked myself that a few times – it was partly the intellectual interest, partly the prospect of money, but greatly because I could see this was just the way forward.
Aside from that they offered me a job? I loved the look of the culture and felt I’d be able to flourish here. The attitude toward training and development was just right and really refreshing after working in universities. The company values back then were good too, and while they’ve changed since, I still agree with the essence of them. I certainly welcome the reintroduction of the one about respecting the individual and individuality, that makes a massive difference to me. Being one’s authentic self is essential.
What was it like at first?
Bewildering and wonderful. I was lucky enough to join when in-person Cloudy Roots (inductions) were possible and there’s no doubt they helped me enormously. As a natural total introvert / hermit I’m still grateful for the initial contacts I made with my fellow joiners.
Something that never seemed to be an issue was my age (I’m creeping up on 50…), and I think that Cloudreach fosters such an inclusive environment is brilliant. I won’t pretend I’m as technically brilliant as many other CSDs, but I finally believe that I also offer other skills that are of use to the company and can help us with customers.
What was hard?
Moving from being a total domain expert to a neophyte was tricky. I’ve always had confidence issues, and despite the Cloudy Roots session on Imposter Syndrome (it’s very real!) I felt like I didn’t belong. This was made harder when more and more people came off the bench to join customer projects and I felt I was left twiddling my thumbs.
My saving grace was joining my first project, and the support I received from colleagues during that initial period.
I was very lucky to join a project which played to some of my strengths. It was an odd project – that of establishing, developing and handing over a Cloud Operations function for a large financial company. Where I think I helped was not as much in my technical ability, but in my approach to providing operational support. All through this though, I felt I didn’t “know enough”, but having support not just from my colleagues in the project but from my manager kept me going
After that initial project’s repeat extensions (we must have been doing something right!) I worked on an application migration within part of that same financial company. Again I could play to some of my strengths and my familiarity with the customer also helped – even so, this project stretched me and my confidence was never really at its best. There’s a theme here. What helped me here was peer support again – my colleagues, my PM and again my manager.
Where am I now?
In a project where (once again) I feel like I know not enough. That’s the thing though, I think we never really know enough, it’s about having the ability and willingness to be stretched and to learn. At the beginning of the project I was feeling utterly overwhelmed, but with some good conversations with my manager (and manager’s manager) I felt more able to work within the situation. While I feel I may not be brilliant with Terraform, I do now have confidence I can use it in real life. The same goes with AWS – in fact, I’ve learned some useful stuff and I’m looking to write a short blog post tying aspects of a common task together. I even have an idea for a personal project I’m aching to try out, and I certainly never really felt that way working for universities.
So what? Why am I telling you this?
I joined Cloudreach knowing very little. The online training and the certification are all well and good, but they only go so far. It was in using and practicing skills that I actually developed them, and while I’m not an expert I feel I actually can Do Stuff now.
I’m not really a great fan of “fake it ‘til you make it” and “feel the fear and do it anyway”, but they do hold a certain truth. Staying in that comfort zone’s really nice, but doesn’t get you anywhere.
The short truth is that you need to believe you can, and be open to help from others. We all want each other to succeed. While I don’t always think I have much to offer in return, I’m willing to try to help where I can, and to continue that virtuous circle.