Employee spotlight - Emily Smith, Cloud engineer at Zaizi

From graduate to cloud engineer – a career in cybersecurity at Zaizi

After changing university degree courses what seemed a hundred times, I eventually settled on a BSc in Cybersecurity. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of learning new topics such as ethical hacking, digital forensics, and cryptography. While at university, I earned a place on a government-backed graduate scheme which allowed me to meet prospective employers, which is how I found Zaizi. 

I started at Zaizi in September 2020 at the height of COVID-19. I never thought I would start my first job straight out of university working remotely. At the time that was very daunting. How am I going to meet people? How do I make an excellent first impression without being able to meet people face to face? 

The topic of cybersecurity is massive. It covers many jobs and many specialities. After uni, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I started my journey at Zaizi as a graduate in security compliance. I quickly discovered this wasn’t for me, as I was desperate to get my hands on some code rather than documentation. It was from here I fell into cloud engineering. 

So what does a cloud engineer do?

If you search on Google it says, “A cloud engineer is an IT professional that builds and maintains cloud infrastructure” (Coursera). I say a cloud engineer is a problem solver. No two days are the same as a cloud engineer. Every day there is a new problem to face. Some are small, and some are huge! 

The problem can be: How do we make this application secure? That’s a vast question, so we break it down into smaller ones. The problem can be some unexpected behaviour in one of our systems, so we are troubleshooting to identify where the issue originated.

Then you are faced with more questions to solve. How do we fix the problem? It’s non-stop collaborative teamwork, especially at Zaizi. Here we’re always working with each other to see how to make something the best of the best. 

Often there is more than one solution, so what is the best solution? Is anything else affected, or will our fix affect anything else? How can we make our work more preventative than reactive? This is just a snippet of some of the problems we solve. I enjoy the challenges that you’re presented with when working in cloud. Some of the most rewarding days are when you finally find the needle in the haystack.

READ: Zaizi’s apprentices shine with award nominations, recognised by Prime Minister

Training the next generation of cloud engineers

It is now two-and-a-half years since I joined Zaizi. It is crazy to see how far I have come and how much I have learnt. Zaizi has allowed me to work on numerous projects and gain skills in many areas, using many tools. I work in a fantastic team in the most supportive environment. I am still learning so much and looking to gain more certifications in cloud, particularly in AWS – the main cloud platform we use at Zaizi. 

I lead the DevSecOps community of practice, a space where people from all over the company come together to learn and share ideas about DevSecOps. 

I have recently helped create the Zaizi Graduate Cloud Programme, which I am incredibly passionate about. This is the programme that cloud graduates will complete when they first join Zaizi. The programme covers the fundamentals of cloud engineering. It ensures that the graduates have the tools to dive into project work. Our first graduate is completing the programme, and I am so proud of his achievements. 

I have come such a long way in a relatively short time here at Zaizi, and that is due to many factors. I adopt a fail-fast mentality, and take every opportunity that comes my way – as they are all opportunities to learn more.

Looking to the future, I am not sure what it holds. But I’m looking forward to where this journey is taking me.

If you’re looking for your next growth opportunity – please see our careers page – we would love to hear from you!

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