Philip is a Data Engineer based in Dublin, Ireland. He joined AWS in Jan 2020.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Philip: I completed my degree in Mathematics before starting my career in consulting. I worked on multiple projects with different clients, primarily banks, using data to find and prevent financial crime. It was a fascinating application of data science to find things like money laundering or terrorism financing.
I enjoyed consulting and learned so much, but I wanted to feel a little more invested in what I was doing. Rather than working on a variety of distinct projects with different clients, I wanted to be part of something where I felt I was contributing and making an impact. I saw the role for AWS but knew absolutely nothing about data center infrastructure. It looked interesting so I applied anyway and here I am, still learning!
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Philip: We generate vast amounts of data from our existing data center infrastructure – networking, power consumption, hardware availability etc. In Amazon, we make decisions with data and my customers are the global teams planning and delivering this capacity. My role is to make this data easily available, in the right format, to ensure the right decisions are being made in how we scale our infrastructure.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Philip: I mostly use SQL, Python and Scala/Spark in my daily work, with data visualisation also being important to present the data to my customers in a meaningful way. I of course use many of the AWS services like Amazon Redshift, AWS Glue and Amazon EMR but generally have the flexibility to decide myself which tools I should use to best deliver results.
Being able to translate my findings in a way that is valuable to my customers is the most important skill in my role. The data itself isn’t very useful if nothing can be learned from it.
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
Philip: I had never used AWS before starting my role so had to learn how to use many of the services we offer. It has completely transformed how I work and I’m now completing some of the AWS certifications to better utilise our own services and gain valuable skills for the rest of my career.
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society? (directly or indirectly)
Philip: I hear every day new ways in which AWS is helping its customers scale sustainably. It is used across so many industries with healthcare being a very topical one at the moment. It is really exciting to be part of something growing so quickly and helping others grow so quickly too; ensuring we have the capacity to maintain that growth.
HereAtAWS: At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?
Philip: I am part of the Glamazon affinity group for LGBT+ employees and allies. Representation for inclusion and diversity is so important, particularly in larger companies, and this group provides a platform for members of the LGBT+ community and their allies to show their support. Being part of this and seeing that support gives me the confidence to talk openly about my personal life and bring my authentic self to work.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Philip: There’s always more to do. We are always encouraged to Think Big in how we can better deliver for our customers and with the scale of AWS, we are solving problems that have never been considered before. It is exciting to be involved in something so novel where experimentation and innovation is actively encouraged.
HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Philip: There is an overwhelming amount of opportunity to contribute – nobody is ever going to say “That’s not your job”. Make sure you avail of this opportunity and develop your career in a way that suits you. The support is there to help you achieve your goals, whatever they are or become.
HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
Philip: Varied, stimulating, and innovative.
HereAtAWS: Do you have any needs or commitment that require flexibility in your role?
Philip: I am currently doing part-time masters, partially to improve my technical skills but also just because I enjoy learning. My manager has been extremely supportive in taking time off for exams or giving me flexibility with assignment deadlines looming. To learn and be curious is a leadership principle we appreciate on my team and we are very much encouraged to develop ourselves as well as do our daily work.
HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?
Philip: I love travelling and spending time with my partner and dog. I also have an avid interest in personal finance. I am currently building a personal finance/data science blog (yet to be officially launched) that I host entirely on AWS using free tier so has cost me nothing but time. I think I had more fun building it than actually writing the content.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
Philip: My role has already changed somewhat from its initial scope in the short time I have been here. I have never experienced a company so flexible in internal mobility with everyone effectively being able to define their role and contribute where they can best. I feel fortunate in the knowledge that there is unlimited opportunity for me to take my career where I want to it to go and have that support along the way.