Please note that this post, first published over a year ago, may now be out of date.
It’s been one year since I joined The Scale Factory and what a year it has been! I started writing the first draft of this post on a trip to meet up with colleagues in Portugal, which I certainly wouldn’t have envisioned when I clicked apply just over a year ago. What has really surprised me though is how much I would end up learning in just a single year.
The Scale Factory has made me soft
In my first few weeks at The Scale Factory, I was very worried about this whole “consultancy” thing. In my previous roles, I was very much an engineer, with all the connotations that implies. As it happens, consultancy is a different role with a focus on a different set of softer skill, but that doesn’t mean I should have been worried, I just had a new set of things to learn.
My reservations about interacting with customers directly on the regular quickly fell away as I was able to witness my colleagues lead by example. The idea of allocating an entire day to running a design workshop with clients once sounded like a true nightmare. But after witnessing Marko lead a few, with professionalism and empathy, I found myself thinking “I could do that”. And soon I did. A similar watch-one-do-one situation happened with the training sessions we deliver to our customers. Just the thought of teaching a group of professionals triggered imposter syndrome in me. Again, that faded quickly after sitting in as support for a few sessions with some of our more seasoned consultants. I was able to become familiar with the process and what kind of questions students may ask, so when it came time for me to lead one of these sessions, I was comfortable enough to do a good job first time. Now that I do these kinds of activities regularly, it has surprised me to realise that these workshops and training sessions are now one of my favourite parts of my role.
Something I didn’t expect to be doing a lot of is writing. I had previously toyed with the idea of writing technical blog posts on my own time, but I was delighted to discover that The Scale Factory have a blog that employees are encouraged to write for. Potential hobbies quickly become regular habits if someone offers to pay you for it! But you can’t improve unless you can see where you are going wrong, and with writing that usually means getting someone else to read your draft and point out all the mistakes. My colleagues Tim and Sandro have both been an immense and patient help here, and as a result my understanding of the written word and hopefully the quality of my writing has improved greatly1.
Opportunities for trying something new pop up regularly at The Scale Factory. Too regularly to list out here. What’s important is that no matter the opportunity, whether it be teaching a group of strangers or a first time podcast appearance, you’ll be able to find someone who has done it before and can help you turn that opportunity into a new skill.
Technically speaking, it’s not all talk
It’s not all been about soft skills though, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to develop my technical skills too.
In the short year that I have been working here, I’ve been on a handful of smaller projects and one larger, long-term, greenfield project. Consequently, I’ve had exposure to a lot of new (to me at least) technologies. The nature of the work is that no two projects will be the same, which is great, because you never get bored. One day you may be looking at a customer’s AWS estate at a macro level with tools like Control Tower and AWS Organizations, and then the next day you’re helping debug a performance issue with a Lambda. Working as a consultant is a process of constantly learning and utilising new technologies, which then opens up new pathways to solve problems you may see in the future. And let’s not forget it’s fun too.
As The Scale Factory is an AWS partner, we are expected to achieve some level of AWS certification. Although that may sound a bit daunting, I can assure you it is not. Firstly, you are surrounded by AWS experts who have gone through the same process already and are more than willing to answer any questions on exam prep. Secondly, the company offers ample support to give you the best chance of passing those exams. Each consultant gets 10 “development” days per year to spend on a day off from project work allowing time for self-improvement, like preparing for an exam. We are free to expense any resources which may be useful in studying for a certification like online courses, books, and practice tests. Having the space to turn off Slack, knuckle down and hit the books makes the whole process less stressful. Over the past year, I have studied for and passed both the Security Specialist and Solutions Architect Professional exams. Not only do I get a nice badge to put on my website, but I got to experiment with lots of AWS services I wouldn’t usually interact with, expanding my idea of what is possible in the cloud.
Through both formal training for certification and on the job research for a project, I’ve learned more about technology this past year than any other time since finishing university2.
Working remotely, up close and personal
After the events of 2020 forced many of us into working remotely, I swore I would never go back. However, after joining The Scale Factory I realised that while working remotely is good, it takes a certain kind of company to make it feel great. The whole company is set up for remote working as the default, and they’ve been doing it since before the pandemic. Despite the geographic distance between us, I feel no barriers when communicating with my colleagues. There are daily opportunities to socialise and keep in touch with everyone, both on an individual basis or around a virtual water-cooler. I don’t miss the office…
Except for when I do. As a human, I still want to chat with people in all three dimensions now and then. Every two weeks we have company-wide, but optional, coworking days where we all pile into a coworking space for some collaboration, and then pile into a pub for a libation. For me, this has been a surprising opportunity to travel, as the destinations move around to be closer to various members of the team. I’ve been able to acquaint myself with the cities of Porto, Cheltenham and Nottingham for the first time, as well as reintroduce myself to Bournemouth and Manchester while missing a few more. But I haven’t just got to know the geography, I have also had the chance to connect with many of my colleagues on a deeper level. Whether I’ve ended up eating chips on the beach or drinking wine cocktails at a rooftop bar after hours, these days have always been great fun.
Try for yourself
Overall, this past year has been a fantastic experience for me, one that I could never fully fit into a single blog post. I will admit, however, that this post does have an ulterior motive behind it: I am trying to convince you to join in the fun. We are hiring for consultants in the UK and several EU countries3. If you are interested in the cloud and want a job that will allow you to continually develop your skills, take a look at our careers page and get in touch!
This blog is written exclusively by The Scale Factory team. We do not accept external contributions.