From one tech to another: Skill building blocks for cloud professionals



Prabu Ruben
Cloud Solution Architect
Microsoft Australia


While I would love to change the world and bring world peace, my message for you is much simpler; it’s easier to accomplish and probably has a better chance of coming to fruition. My message is simply about change and how any transformation starts with you.

As part of my job I preach the benefits of transformation and self-disruption to my customers when encouraging them to change their processes and adopt Cloud Technology. It is my ability to demonstrate my own transformation and consistent disruption to stay relevant that helps me to drive that message.

My own history of change is clear in my background. After graduating in 1997 as a Mechanical engineer, I started my career as a Fabrication Engineer reading intricate two dimensional designs on paper and translating them to three dimensional fabricated parts that when put together in expected ways, created a crane or a humungous earth mover. While I enjoyed working in an industry directly related to my qualification, I soon realised that I needed to move on to stay relevant.

I had to pivot my career from being an engineer with minimal knowledge of computers to becoming a Web Application developer in the late 90's. The benefits of my self transformation revealed themselves soon after when Johnson & Johnson asked me to come to Australia and help them re-design and develop their Intranet.

A year later yet more change was to come when I transferred to data warehousing and business Intelligence. Again I made this move to stay relevant even though I had to leave behind the skills I had developed. Over the 15 years that followed I found myself changing roles many times, moving away from a comfort zone filled with “knowns” to “unknowns”, learning new skills along the way that replaced my already well-honed skills.

When I first came across ‘Cloud’ four years ago I thought it was a fad, in fact I was a sceptic who believed ‘Cloud computing’ would be one of those things that come and go. But, because I love a challenge and I am open to change, the more I learned the more I transformed. Soon I was not just a fan of the Cloud, but a preacher of its benefits. I was hooked. Now I am being paid for doing something I love and that has got to be the biggest benefit of transformation.

My love for building and trying new things, for challenging myself is also present in my personal life where I spend hours playing Minecraft with my three sons. My boys are already more advanced than me and I can only hope this desire to challenge themselves is something I have instilled in them.

And while it is important to love what you are doing, it is equally as important to have endorsement and backing in what you do. For professions such as auditors, accountants, doctors and dentists there are industry specific professional qualifications which readily provide the practitioner the required credibility, trust and authority to practice what they have learnt through course work and years of experience.

There is no such equivalent when it comes to Cloud computing and specialisations within it. Though your past experiences count a lot towards establishing the value you can add, when it comes to commanding credibility and trust among your peers, customers and partners alike, something more that is tangible and verifiable is required. I sincerely believe that getting certified by a widely recognised and respected certification authority can fill that gap. It helps remove vagueness, provides technical specificity, and demonstrates that you have the hands on technical skills required to practice what you preach.

The purpose of Microsoft Azure Certifications is to provide techies like me this most needed tangible and verifiable recognition. And the Azure Skills initiative is about making the path to getting certified a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

One of the reasons it was enjoyable for me was that it made me realise that there was only one way to learn for my certification exams, which is by doing it hands-on in Azure and finding my way in and out of troubles. After 4 weeks of Azure play, MOOC, Video sessions and theory I got certified in Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions.

Getting certified and enjoying the experience is like a drug. I am hooked and on to the next one now.


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