I have been working at DoiT International as a Senior Cloud Architect since 2019. Maybe you should too?
Over my career, I have served as a software architect, engineer, and manager for over two decades. While considering my next move a couple of years ago, consulting independently looked like a great way to leverage my experience. It seemed to be a way to step up towards the top of the industry without climbing a ladder.
However, drumming up business and handling the administrative overhead is not easy. DoiT gave me a good platform for building the experience, personal brand, and business network that every consultant needs without the stress of creating an independent consultancy.
To learn about our life here at DoiT Customer Reliability Engineering, you can also read this fine post by my colleague Mike Sparr. But here’s my take.
What We Do?
My colleagues and I give consultation services exclusively to the technology sector — companies whose primary value-add is technology. We don’t work with non-tech companies, meaning that the engineers we advise are highly skilled and ask professional questions by default.
Questions range from high-level to low-level: From 10-minute quickies, all the way to days of architectural analysis and decision-making.
- Some are for high-level architecture: For example, “How do I migrate smoothly from one cloud to another?”
- Some are for design guidance: “How do I configure my VPCs for seamless cross-region database connectivity?”
- Other requests are for deep diagnosis of cloud infrastructure issues: “Why is my cluster failing, and what can I do about it?”
Critically, we don’t do professional service work such as coding or maintaining a customer’s cloud environment. For security, we don’t let our customers give us write permissions at all. And though sometimes the word “consulting” is used as a euphemism for outsourcing — we don’t do that.
Surprisingly, we get a big boost by not getting paid for our services: No one needs to count the hours. Instead, DoiT makes its revenue from wholesaler’s discounts, as we resell cloud services; and the customers pay the same (or less than) they would pay directly to the cloud provider.
Although we have Service Level Objectives to set our pace, the management is smart enough to avoid Goodhart’s Law — they do not use time metrics as a goal. The only real goal is satisfied customers, a metric that we do track obsessively on an ongoing basis.
Why I Like It
There are many reasons for my liking the DoiT CRE. Here are some:
1. Stock options in a fast-growing investor-backed company
I didn’t believe that such a labor-intensive business could act (and feel) like a startup, but the day I joined, the company received a $100m investment, and both the staff size and the revenue have been skyrocketing since then.
2. A fully remote team
The pandemic has shown that even a highly distributed team of senior technologists can work from anywhere. We have teammates working from the USA, Europe, Israel, and Australia. Some work from home, others are digital nomads, and a few prefer company-provided workspaces. I don’t ever want to commute to work again!
3. Decoupled organization
The remote work and the hyper-growth leave no choice: The company operates with minimal micro-management. We are all independent in managing our time, work schedule, and ongoing tasks.
4. Small and sensible
DoiT is still small enough that the founders can manage everything through good sense rather than bureaucracy and cumbersome processes.
5. Know everything.
I get asked questions about everything in Google Cloud Platform and AWS and have to give answers that satisfy skilled technologists (the only customers we have). This means that I am constantly studying and learning new technologies and validating my knowledge against other experts. My career in technology means that I have always been learning, but this broad consulting gig supercharges that.
6. Get listened to
The customers come to us for advice — and listen! Unlike an architect inside a company, you are an outsider to the customers, free of internal political considerations. Your advice (if it’s any good 😉 ) has value.
As a consultant, you build some assets that are harder to get in a product development job:
- A strong personal network. At a product company, you meet a few dozen colleagues, and maybe some customers. While at DoiT, you work with hundreds of top tech companies around the world.
- A broad range of expertise. If you want to do top-down consulting on a range of technical topics, this is the place to be. In my team, instead of working on one product, you advise companies on everything cloud-related.
- A strong personal brand. DoiT supports us as we publish (see our blog), lecture (see our meetup), and release open-source software (see our GitHub).
Disclaimer: It’s Not All Roses
I’m writing to convince you to work here (you’ll be glad to know that we get referral bonuses at DoiT). At the same time, I want to be straightforward about some aspects that some people may not like, yet also convince you that these may be positives for me and perhaps for you.
Not the management you are used to
My department (Customer Reliability Engineering) has an unusual organizational structure. Other departments, such as the rapidly growing product dev team building our Cloud Management Platform, work differently — with the familiar team, goal, and management structures.
My CRE department revolves around one-person work, not teamwork. Colleagues will quickly help you if you need them. For example, if you reach out on Slack about tough technical questions, you are never alone. But the work consists of tasks without dependencies that you self-manage and handle on your own.
There are no long-term goals, such as a series of product releases: You work on a series of customer problems. They may take minutes, hours, or weeks. For long-term goals, most of us have taken on projects like significant open-source work.
The company is growing rapidly, and new management opportunities are always coming up. But the decoupled corporate culture and the all-senior staff in my department mean managers do not make frequent prioritization and goal decisions for their reports. Instead, they focus on smoothing the way for each individual to do their job.
If you are on the consultancy career track, these are features, not bugs.
No Customer Assignments
As a budding consultant, you know the importance of long-term customer relationships. But at DoiT, customer requests can be directed to any CRE member. Counterintuitively, this has excellent side effects, as it means that you are free of customer relationship management and business discussions.
Our account managers handle these, while you focus on providing solutions. If you want to also handle the business side, CRE may not be the right place for you — instead, you may want to check out and apply for a Strategic Account Manager position!
However, CRE’s customer relationships are not all one-offs. You get to know customers and their architectures and ongoing (and long-term) challenges; we sometimes accompany a customer through the multiple stages of architecture review and design.
Suppose you are an experienced architect and engineer in software development or DevOps. In that case, your choices are these: You can keep on creating and maintaining amazing software, or you can advise those who do. You can do both at DoiT, but I’m personally enjoying the change of pace and my work in CRE.