Nerd Journey 040: Enterprise Architect Mindset – Paul Woodward Jr and A.J. Kuftic Part 2

Welcome to episode 40 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 chat with Paul Woodward Jr. and A.J. Kuftic about the Enterprise Architect mindset and career paths.

Original Recording Date: 05-14-2019 This podcast is a follow up to Episode 14 of the ExploreVM Podcast on Making the Move to Enterprise.

1:51 Business vs Technology Goals

  • John points out the difference in thinking about business metrics versus technology specifications.
  • Major software version changes can present a valid reason to make a change (i.e. to move away from a version that is no longer supported, move to a version that is more secure and decreases risk, etc.).
    • Remember that software interoperability is important. A change to one software may require a change to one or more other products.
  • Paul cites understanding the presence of change control as a difference when working with larger shops compared to smaller shops.
    • He points out the organizations he works with as good at detecting risk and his role as an advisor to help mitigate the risk.
    • A.J. had to learn to talk with people about the reasons they want to make changes within the technology environment.

11:56 – The Enterprise Architect Mindset

  • Would it be more difficult for someone who started in enterprise IT working in a specific administration role to get into the architect mindset than someone who worked in the SMB who planned, implemented, and supported a specific technology?
    • It depends on the person and how much they want to make the shift. Likely the person from SMB can make the transition easier.

    • It comes back to whether you can understand the questions being asked from the business side.

    • An administrator in a large enterprise who takes the time to be curious, interacts with personnel in other departments, and gets to the root of problems can move into the architect role.

      • It can’t always be fix and forget.
    • The person who started in enterprise has a better understanding of how an enterprise business operates than someone moving up from the SMB would regardless of technology exposure.

    • Some factors that determine success here have to do with organizational culture and adapting to it.

      • Give back to your team and to other teams in the organization. Seek to interact with people on other teams in an intentional way.
      • If the organization is setup in an antagonistic way, it can affect your ability to succeed.
      • Culture doesn’t come from a committee. Changes to it come from the top.

25:04 – Possible Career Paths for the Enterprise Architect

  • An architect from a customer may want to move to a partner to provide this role "as a service."
  • Once you hit a certain peak within an organization, moving out into the consulting world can make a great deal of sense to gain exposure to other environments.
  • Another option is to work over to VP, Director, or CIO levels. This change is more about how you manage people than how you manage technology. Already being able to speak the business / solution language really helps.
    • A.J. recommends getting to know an architect to learn from him / her. How is their thinking different from yours?
  • After being in the trenches, you can be the advocate for engineers and administrators to influence positive change.
  • Paul mentioned he is fighting to keeping his technical side after moving to pre-Sales.

Closing Thoughts

  • If you are a leader or an architect, it is advantageous to talk to colleagues about what they do and where they want to go.
    • Some people want to move up and do not know how, while others are content to stay in their cubby hole.
    • Make sure your people take time to train, go to conferences, and develop professionally. This is vastly cheaper than hiring a new employee.
      • For example, services like Pluralsight and A Cloud Guru are very inexpensive ways to get training on public cloud.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
    • Paul started working in a factory and jumped into IT. Take some risks by getting into areas in which you do not normally delve.
    • Take advantage of mentors, and do not be shy to mentor others.
  • Paul and A.J. have the best pitch for the John White School of Mentoring yet!
  • AJ’s mic looked like a Deathstar!!!

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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