Niels is a Technical Account Manager based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He joined AWS in July, 2013.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Niels: I started working for AWS in Singapore (relocating from Denmark) as a Data Centre Technician, completing break fix tasks and working shifts. I was hired into this role due to my IT hardware and operational experience. After a few months in the role, I became responsible for managing two major DC sites in Singapore and I was formally promoted into the Data Centre Manager role by May 2014. For the next 14 months I worked in that role managing the DC site, coordinating the DC expansion project and developing the Data Centre Technicians who reported to me.
My interest then shifted to becoming more involved in Global Data Centre operation projects and by July, 2015 I became the first Global Process Owner for the Rack Decommissioning Process. It was my task to develop and promote the Rack Decommissioning Process and take the process to the next level.
In this role, I was able to travel to various AWS Data Centre locations working with the different teams there as well as engaging directly with AWS leadership on the progress of implementing and developing the process. Being part of developing this process and taking it from the first iteration into a fully digitalized process was very exciting and gave me the feeling of contributing directly to the development of AWS as a company and organization.
After almost two years in this role I decided to address a gap on my résumé – direct end-customer contact. All my prior jobs had primarily internal customers and I wanted to finally connect to the customers/consumers of the awesome AWS services that ran on top of the infrastructure I had helped manage and support for the past 5 years.
After talking to various people, the Technical Account Manager role provided the best combination for the skills and passion I could bring to the table. My technical experience helped me connect on the technical aspects while my project/program skills helped to manage and plan the engagement with the customer. I have now been in this role for two years and really enjoy the customer interaction and seeing how the support that we provide to the customer helps them grow and accelerate with the use of AWS services. At the same time, it has helped me to further develop my skills and knowledge about AWS services – something that one day may help me to yet again switch to a new role within AWS … but that is still in the future.
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Niels: My customers are typically existing customers on the AWS platform or that are in the process of migrating to “the cloud” using the AWS platform. As a TAM it is my job to help the customer get the most out of AWS and the IT infrastructure/services they operate on. Initially this might be reactive, but as the relationship matures, we also proactively seek solutions that can enhance their experience.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Niels: On the technical side, a good basic grasp of the technologies that drive the internet is essential. This knowledge is key to being able to take and understand many of the technical questions from the customer and being able to ask the “right questions” when trying to get more information. Customer interactions are with developers, solution architects etc. We are technical people and being able to “talk the language” is an important first step to connect and build rapport. Over time, it is also essential to develop skills with some of the AWS services that most customers will use – both in relation to their services to their customer, but also in relation to how some of these tools can be used to improve and automate operational processes internally. Keeping up with all the AWS Services is almost impossible, thus another key skill is to build an extensive internal network of AWS contacts that you as the TAM can draw upon when needed to help the customer. The primary soft skill in this role is being able to build positive relations with customer and co-worker and the ability to get the support and commitment from others to help your customers.
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
Niels: One of my customers is a key global player in the toy market and present in many children’s lives. Helping this customer build their digital solutions, while at the same time living up to the customer’s goal of “safe play” (keeping children safe even in a digital world) has had a positive impact and shows how developing digital products in the right way can ensure that children can have a safe play environment online.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Niels: Helping and seeing customer having success with developing great solutions on the AWS platform.
HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
Niels: Exciting, busy and challenging.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
Niels: My experience with AWS and “the cloud” started more by chance than anything. I had been working for a large Danish company for many years where among other things I had spent 18 months in Singapore. During that time, I met my now wife, and we kept the relationship going even after I moved back to Denmark alone. When I was made redundant, I was fortunate that my network in Singapore helped me to find a job with AWS and I could be “reunited” with my girlfriend – and the rest, as they say, is history. If I had not had the connection to Singapore through my girlfriend, I most likely never would have ended up in AWS and be part of this amazing cloud journey!