Bit of background. I had a healthy obession with my ZX spectrum throughout my younger years but didn't really get back into tech professionally until my mid twenties.
I grew up fairly poor, on a notorious council estate in Salford as part of a single parent family. My mum worked her ass off day and night just to keep us clothed and fed.
I didn't go to Uni to study computer science and I don't have a degree (I did go back and complete a HNC in business and information services later in life).
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. The tech industry didn't really exist, so I faffed around alot until it did.
I got my first break in tech sales, building and selling gaming PC's. I was so passionate about it that my competition on the sales floor didn't even register on the monthly sales charts and things just took off from there.
If there are a few things that I could link my breakthrough to, they would be enthusiam, personality and persistence. I went from selling and helping build gaming PC's to a technical development analyst at HJ Heinz within a very short space of time. I bypassed the help desk, 1st line and 2nd line support. I didn't know what I was doing but I learned, very quickly and obsessively latched myself on to some of the coolest tech I could get my hands on and demonstrated it regularly to anyone that would listen. I then moved into a role as their European Application Delivery manager and enjoyed some amazing travel and experiences (this was before Cloud existed).
Here is my LinkedIn profile
I have found that my curiosity is one of the most important factors in my day to day happiness. I have to be curious and excited about the technology platforms that I am working with, how they benefit people and their projects. I find that I need to be close to these things on a daily basis.
I have experienced changes in my career from time to time, probably around 2 - 3 times where I have acknowledged to myself that I need to do something different. Those changes have never about money, power or ego, they have always been about following my curiosity and excitment, and I feel that's a great foundation for professional & personal happiness.
I remember waking up in London about 4-5 years ago and thinking, today I make a decision. I was too comfortable in a role that I wasn't overly curious about, working with a technology stack that I wasn't overly passionate about so I approached my line management and asked to take on a developing area of the business and help drive it forwards, I was already fairly comfortable with Cloud from a web development perspective but I really wanted to learn more, be curious and really add value through an ever-changing platform that would satisfy my curiosity until I retire (hopefully).
Looking back, I still remember the day I stumbled across AWS, it was shortly after the first iPhone had been released - I remember talking to a PHP developer who was storing images in something called an 's3' object store.
I was like, 'oh yeah - the s3's... of course'. Then, I scuttled home to Google it as fast as I could. Hmmm that's interesting I thought, I had a bit of a play, then I closed my laptop and didn't get the chance to play with it again.
Fast forward 4 years, I was sat in the office at News International in London (the business was on a drive to transition from a paper company to a digital media powerhouse) and our new CTO was introducing AWS and what services we would be migrating over to it, compute was available through EC2, S3, CloudFront, a simple version of RDS amongst others.
I had to get involved. To me, it looked like the end of the gatekeepers of technology, all you needed was a credit card or some free tier credit and you can get an MVP or literally anything off the ground in no time, an absolute geeks playground. So my AWS journey started further back than I originally thought.
I didn't get fully immersed until around 2016-2017 which was when I made that decision one morning in London and my employer thankfully backed me up and gave me the opportunity I wanted. I now get to immerse myself in the Cloud platform that originally sparked that curiosity again.
I had the luxury of having an existing heritage in tech and being in the right place at the right time within the organisation that I work for to start building a professional career around AWS and public cloud in general.
Others are not so lucky which is why I love the AWS re/Start program so much. If anyone has the opportunity to re-train and enter the world of AWS, then go for it, let your curiosity take you on an amazing journey, you won't regret it, the job market is exploding with AWS opportunities and the amount of online learning content is just mind-boggling.
Last but not least, the AWS community is very special, I can't quite put my finger on it but it reminds me of the Ruby and the Ruby on Rails communities that I have experienced, great people, always willing to help and they all share that same curiosity, everyone seems to have that edge about them.
AWS also reminds of that time when Linux leveled the playing field for developers, all of a sudden there was an OS that was inclusive, you didn't need money to buy a server OS license or client access licences to build or access it.
When AWS came along with s3 and ec2, you could get started with your dreams without needing to raise capital to buy or rent space, racks, networks, security, compute and storage - all you needed was a credit card to pay for what you used and look what has happened since, an explosion of innovation from ordinary people who many never have made it due to the gatekeepers of capital, liberation, inclusivity and the best ideas winning.
So what's your AWS story? Fancy sharing it to inspire others? We are gifting $100 of free AWS credits for the best 5 stories.
If you want to learn more about the history of Cloud and AWS, this is great podcast from the DevDiscuss team.
What's your AWS story?