Episode 018a: Joseph Griffiths Interview Part 1

Welcome to episode 18a of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode, we have Part 1 of a two-part interview with Joseph Griffiths, Staff Solution Architect with VMware.

Original recording date: 2018-11-12

Topic – Joseph Griffiths Interview

What does a Solution Architect do?

  • VMware structures it differently than other organizations.  The primary role is to identify business problems and help come up with innovative solutions that solve these problems to ensure a desired outcome.
    • Example – solving provisioning vs. impact of provisioning on revenue

How does Solution Architect contrast with the Solution Engineer role?

  • Architect tries to build a solution based on business outcomes
  • Engineer takes specifications from architect and builds them

Time travel with us back to VMworld 2007

  • Read more on this from Joseph’s Blog
  • The discussions on innovation (i.e. private clouds, etc.) opened Joseph’s eyes and encouraged him to get outside his comfort zone.
  • He chose to make a pivot to stand out to future employers and started him down a “hyper” path of certifications.
  • Mindset change depends on the person you are.
    • Everyone has different life experiences and a unique way of looking at the world.
    • We all need to realize how much we have to learn.
  • Not only were his thoughts about the organization challenged, but he pursued the challenge to make a change.
    • Joseph immediately became an advocate for implementing a private cloud and found other internal champions.
    • The efforts failed due to too much focus on technology and not enough focus on people and process, but this set him up for success at the next organization.

Did certifications teach valuable career skills?

  • Yes – it started with VCP and proceeded to VCAP (separate design and deploy exams, with the design exam being most valuable in learning architectural concepts)
  • Certifications force you to learn new things and look good on resumes.
  • See Joseph’s blog post on whether IT certifications really matter.
  • Joseph is a double VCDX.
  • Joseph shares the story of someone intentionally working toward the role of CEO by holding various roles within the company.
  • Joseph switches jobs when he becomes comfortable.
  • Listen to Joseph’s taco shell story and its implications to your situation.
    • Guard against letting what you want becoming what other people want.
  • John draws a parallel between IT’s alignment with various internal organizations and its overall value to the company.
    • When looking at the value of IT, Joseph encourages us to think of this as a journey and stresses the importance of understanding how we got to where we are and how we can fix where we are.
    • The creation of multiple roles leads to better consistency, more efficiency, and a better product.
    • This has moved IT workers into siloed teams to the point where they lose touch with the priorities of the business.
    • The reality of the world is that IT is driving businesses today and can be a competitive advantage.
    • Joseph points to optimizations and efficiencies in areas which may not provide an impact to the business.
  • Nick draws a parallel to Joseph’s automation talk from the Dallas / Fort Worth SpiceCorps in February 2018 (full video here).
    • Joseph stresses the importance of public speaking for professional development and cites leveraging local user groups and conferences to practice.  Feeling uncomfortable is natural.
    • Joseph shares an example of process automation in IT and its relationship to business value.
    • John mentions workers often worry about automating themselves out of a job.
    • The introduction of automation in the automotive industry actually increased the need for workers.
    • Employee willingness to adapt and change important.
    • John gives the example of installing and configuring a software package not being as valuable as other tasks.
  • Joseph goes back to the eye-opening VMworld story.

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