A Face in the Cloud – Connor Williams, Cloud Systems Developer
Here at Cloudreach, we believe that the growth of a great business is fuelled by great people. It is our talented individuals that make Cloudreach the success it is. Connor Williams, Cloud Systems Developer, tells us about his experience working and keeping it cloudy at Cloudreach.
What is your role at Cloudreach?
I am a Cloud Systems Developer who, in a nutshell, helps clients to make the most of the cloud.
I have worked on small projects where I helped to migrate a couple of applications to AWS, and I have also worked on much larger projects with a team of 15+ developers where we are implementing a Cloud Infrastructure Platform, which will enable our customers to use AWS whilst adhering to their business’ security standards.
What motivated you to join Cloudreach?
I joined Cloudreach straight out of university. The environment on my course was very competitive - with people constantly trying to one - up each other and sometimes making sure others were at a disadvantage relative to themselves. Because of this, one of the most important things I was looking for in a job was a collaborative and friendly work environment.
Cloudreach presents itself as a friendly and collaborative work environment and I can say there are many like-minded people here who enjoy sharing knowledge.
I also wanted to find a career where the skills I learn are relevant and in-demand. Cloudreach and the Cloud Computing skill set are certainly sought after in the IT industry and it’s very exciting to be a part of it. Cloudreach also has a global footprint and is open to people moving around offices, experiencing different cultures and geographies which aligns with what I wanted to do.
Do you think Cloudreach provides good opportunities for you to learn?
I learn best by doing things, and Cloudreach has provided a great learning experience for me. The open-ended learning opportunities mean I have been able to grow at my own pace to the point where I feel like I am a valued technical member of a team. This causes me to be more motivated and encourages me to learn more, which in turn improves my performance at work. Everybody wins.
Can you share a learning and development experience you’ve had within Cloudreach?
I joined Cloudreach in September 2016, just after finishing university in Bristol in the UK, to join the graduate program which ran for 3 months. We worked in sprints of 2 weeks - where we had a new topic and presenter for every sprint. Over the course of the graduate program we learnt everything from linux and AWS basics, to developing complex Cloudformation templates and Chef cookbooks.
In the final sprint we were set a challenge in the format of a mock client handing over a set of vague requirements for a project. Our task was to design and implement a solution to this problem and present it at the end of the week where we would also be asked some challenging questions from the judging panel. This was a really good learning experience which allowed us to put all of our recently learned skills to the test and also to get a glimpse of what project life would be like.
Everything I learned on the graduate program has given me a strong foundation to perform well on technical projects for customers.
Which cloudy value resonates most with you and why?
Be easy to work with - I believe this is essential to succeeding at just about anything. You are always going to have to work with someone at some point in order to achieve a mutual goal. That goal will be achieved much faster if you are easy to work with, can tackle and issues quickly and efficiently, can accept compromises and are good at communicating with your colleagues. Nothing pains me more then when interacting with someone who cannot compromise and make the situation easier for everyone.
How has working at Cloudreach impacted your personal and professional growth?
In terms of personal growth, working for Cloudreach has enabled me to constantly learn about different cultures, languages, and histories whilst travelling to and living in new cities and countries.
I relocated from my home country England for the first time, initially to the Netherlands and then to America. This has thrown me into brand new situations and settings that at first seemed intimidating, scary and lonely, but have always been a great way to grow emotionally and physically. I have encountered challenges that I would not have had the chance to learn from had I stayed in the UK such as meeting new friends, maintaining relationships with old ones and my family, handling a long distance relationship… the list goes on.
Since relocating I have seen, for the first time, a number of cities including Amsterdam, The Hague, Lisbon, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Boston and I am currently looking forward to a trip to Washington D.C.
The amount of knowledge and real-world experience I have gained in such a short period of time is priceless. Knowledge is gained through merely taking a walk to the nearest grocery store and engaging in meaningful conversation with a local. These types of experiences are something that can’t be learned by reading a book, or even by searching online. As said before, I believe one of the greatest ways to learn is by doing and since moving abroad, I have encountered individuals and situations that I was not used to and had never experienced, and each has enabled me to grow.
Professionally Cloudreach has facilitated and supported my development in many ways. I have been able to improve in the technical skills that I have a genuine interest in, including cloud technologies, software development principles, git and automation.
How do you strike your own work/life balance?
Balancing work/life balance has never been an issue since at Cloudreach. I have been fortunate enough that I have been placed on projects which do not have much out of hours work. Currently I get 1 day every 2 weeks for personal development, in which time I have been able to study for 2 AWS certifications and write this blog post, which means I have time after work to spend time doing hobbies, personal projects and exploring new places.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
The best place in the world is obviously Doncaster, a town in Yorkshire, Northern England. This fantastic place is home to the only multi-level ice rink in the country at Doncaster Dome. Specifically, the best village in the best town in the world is Stainforth which home to the famous Stainforth car boot. It’s also where I grew up.
The second best place I’ve travelled to is The Bahamas. You just cannot beat their scenic beauty and year-round tropical weather.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
I would definitely still be in tech, and would be interested in exploring more blockchain technologies and possibly blockchain development. I also have an interest in data science and software development and maybe would consider that route.
If I was to change career completely, I would be a Skydiving instructor somewhere really warm and travel around the world. It’s nice to have dreams.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to do electronics projects, making things with Raspberry Pis and Arduinos, and generally learning about electronics.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I can honestly say I am proud of where I am today.
"As Coleman Cox said, "The harder I work the luckier I get".