Cloudflare TV

Cloudflare Careers Day: Meet the Solutions Engineering Team

Presented by Matt Bullock, Simon Wijckmans, Kamilla Amirova, Lee Sam
Originally aired on 

In this session you will get to know our Solutions Engineering Team and how they help Cloudflare build a better Internet. Learn more about what the team have achieved this year, the current projects they are working on and their goals for 2021!

Here are a few roles the Solutions Engineering Team are currently recruiting for:

Find all of our currently open roles on our careers page.

Solutions Engineering

Transcript (Beta)

Good afternoon and welcome to Cloudflare TV. This is the careers day. Meet the solutions engineering team.

My name is Lee Sam. I'm part of the recruiting team and we have a few members of the SE team who are going to talk us through their organization, their team and what they do.

So why don't we kick things off by doing a quick introduction.

Kamilla. Hello everyone. My name is Kamilla. I'm a partner solutions engineer at Cloudflare, work in the EMEA team and been at Cloudflare since 2014.

Fantastic. Simon. Hi, I'm Simon Wijckmans. I've been with Cloudflare for six months now.

I'm a solution engineer looking after the whole of EMEA, but also mainly on the Dutch speaking customers.

And yeah, that's it. Matt.

And I'm Matt Bullock. I've been at Cloudflare just a little over four years and I'm a solutions engineer manager.

Fantastic. Thank you all. So in this session for the next 30 minutes or so, the session is really designed to kind of give people an opportunity to to meet the SE team, learn a bit more about what you do, what it takes to be a good SE and what your day to day kind of looks like.

So first question to you, Matt, what would you say makes a good solutions engineer at Cloudflare?

The main trait I think that makes a good SE is curiosity. Someone that wants to continue to learn, work out how things break and how to fix them.

So they are just constantly building on that knowledge, learning about our new products and just really want to learn and understand what happens at Cloudflare and how everything works together.

Sure. What about you, Camilla? Same question. What kind of what do you find makes a good SE?

I think it's very important to be true to yourself.

Make sure that you ask a lot of questions because it's very important. It's all learning culture.

We all work with a lot of technologies and being not afraid to ask any questions you have.

That's very important. And even maybe ask for help, look together to brainstorm on some things, make it even better because, you know, like two heads is always better than one.

But certainly also add on to this curiosity, being willing to work in the team and learn new things, craving it for it is very important.

And another question to you, Camilla, while we're still on you, what is what is your typical day look like?

You know, what is a day to day for a solutions engineer look like for you?

It's a good question. So I work with the partners, Cloudflare partners in region EMEA, Europe, Middle East, Africa.

So basically, on top of the daily routine that you have working at the mails, looking at it, there is a lot of times you actually touch different types of partners who would like to know more about Cloudflare solutions, how actually help them to be successful in reselling it or maybe onboarding their customers.

So this is where you come with the technical experiencing from our side and helping them.

OK, so this is what actually we're doing from inside. Let's have a look how you guys doing it and work together on it.

So it's basically helping them to build their expertise, experience on using Cloudflare and not just Cloudflare, but being able to integrate it with other products and solutions.

On top of it, running a couple of the webinars with other teams as well for the partners, partners, customers.

So lots of educations happening here. And on top of it, because the work is always, let's say, keep you challenging, make sure that you understand.

It brings you different options or solutions for their customers. What would be the best, for example, work for this customer or maybe for this customer with the use case?

So that always makes you think through the solution. So it's never the same.

There is never two of the same customers, no matter how many we have.

Everyone has its own needs, its own story, and you always need to find the best that fits for them.

So I would say the combination of that daily things, training, education, find the best approach and solution for the customers, partners is what my day look like.

OK, that's really insightful. Thank you, Camilla.

Simon, obviously, you're the newest member of the panel here. What helped you ramp up quickly when you first joined?

Looking back at your first few months, what really helped you pick up the job quite quickly?

That's a really good question.

For me, the situation was a little weird because I've never even met Matthew or Camilla in person during the Corona pandemic.

So being able to ask other people questions sort of came less naturally because you'd have to reach out over chat.

But that's exactly what helped me. The team is really open to helping anyone, really.

So if you bump into something that you just simply can't wrap your head around, just in our little chat room for our group, just drop the question.

People will answer and they'll help you. Like Matt said, just being curious, try stuff.

If you got that half an hour time, then just try and build something, try and break something, be proactive about things.

That really made a big difference for me, at least.

Would you say that your onboarding experience was still a good one, despite the fact that you spent your first few months during a pandemic?

If I remember correctly, I think I was part of the second remote onboarding wave.

So obviously there were still some small rough edges, but it was quite a complete onboarding experience.

Obviously, since there's such a big variety of roles within Cloudflare, it's hard to customize that.

Luckily, it wasn't just me starting as the only solution engineer in a group.

There was another colleague, Vincent, who joined that time as well.

So it was very easy to ramp up and work together on stuff that we really needed to learn as a solution engineer, apart from other people, for instance, in an AE role or BDR role that joined that same wave.

So it was quite a complete onboarding experience, even though it was remote.

Yeah. And Matt, what would you say is one of or some of the things that make it unique being a solutions engineer at Cloudflare that somebody might not experience as an SE elsewhere?

The cadence of how quickly we release new things. I think every quarter there is 100 new products or features that have been added to the product road set.

So we are constantly having to enable ourselves or go through the training.

We work closely with the product management team.

We work closely with sales enablement to really just understand what these new features bring to the product, how we sell them, how they will be implemented by customers.

And that is constantly happening.

So everyone that joins Cloudflare and if they just stay still, and there could be so many changes that when you talk to the customer again about the same product a week later, two weeks later, it's changed.

Something's new, a feature that's been requested for months or a year has suddenly been released.

And that gets customers excited or it allows us to pitch different customers.

Even though we sell our core products, everyone knows it's for DDoS, for web application firewall, we now have Magic Transit, we have Cloudflare 1.

We have all of these cool new things that are just constantly coming at us and we have to learn.

And then we can go to our customers or potential new customers and talk about all these exciting things.

There is always something to learn or there is always something, as Simon said in our chat, has anyone seen this before or have you seen this new release?

It's a constant learning exercise. Obviously, I work in the recruitment team.

And one of the things that candidates will sometimes be interested in knowing is what career opportunities or what mobility opportunities does Cloudflare offer?

And Camilo, I was actually just checking out your LinkedIn.

And I see that you actually joined us originally in our San Francisco office, right?

And then you moved to the London office. And where are you broadcasting from right now?

So right now, I'm actually based in London, still in London office.

But yeah, I've been working five years from San Francisco and got the opportunity.

And with Cloudflare, I was able to transfer to another office. So with Cloudflare, it's really something that you can actually travel the world.

And when we open an office and there is a need, there is a great opportunity to do that.

And I'm one of those, for example, also several years ago, I had a good opportunity to transfer and work as a partner engineer, solutions engineer in our Singapore office as well, for like five weeks to be on the cross team work experience.

So not only that, in Cloudflare, we do have an option and I've done it as well for some time, about two years.

I accept the position in special projects team.

So I wanted a little bit to try new challenges and wanted to work on one project specifically dedicated to, it was about analytics integrations.

So there on top of it, I was able to switch the team and actually switch it back, for example, just to try myself in something else.

Yeah. And would you say that you received a lot of support from, you know, your management and the leadership team to allow you to kind of make these moves, you know, in different locations, different teams?

Absolutely. This is where we want to make sure that who works in Cloudflare, we want to make sure that you're happy, because if you're not happy, you're not productive, you're not doing what you'd like to achieve.

And as a person, I think going and trying new things, you know, get a little bit of self-refreshing to see what's happening, what job you're doing, and the project that you'd like, maybe interesting to help with.

This is all really urban culture and the opportunity is just everywhere.

So it's all about you, what you'd like to focus on. And from the company side, I couldn't be even more grateful for all the support I received from both HR team and obviously my managers.

Yeah, that's fantastic. And Matt, you've been with Cloudflare just over four years, right?

Is that right? That's correct.

An interesting thing about you is that when you joined, you actually spent your first year and a half in the customer success team, and then you transitioned to an SE as you are now.

So that was a really interesting move, one that we don't see too often in Cloudflare.

So tell us about kind of what that transition was like for you.

So, yeah, when I joined Cloudflare, I mean, it wasn't as long ago as Camilla was, but it was London was just starting off.

It was a small office.

We had to be a bit more scrappy. We had to do a lot of different things.

We didn't have a lot of SEs around. So there was two, James Ball and Michael Tremonti.

And so we had to, and customers had technical questions, and I was always technical curiosity.

So they used to set me problems or let me work with those customers to understand what their technical needs were or why something wasn't working.

And they were slowly giving me challenges to try and solve, and it gave me a step to then allow to become an SE.

So after, I think, 18 months, I talked to my boss, Nella, to say, oh, I would like to become an SE, and then went through the process there to transfer and become an SE for, I think, a year, 18 months, and then I transitioned into an SE manager.

So, yeah, it was a bit of a whirlwind, but it was just because I had the opportunity to learn what I wanted to learn and not be restricted on that aspect.

Yeah. That's really great to hear that we obviously support these kind of lateral moves and it's obviously worked out pretty well for you.

And I think the next thing I'm interested in finding out is about how somebody who might be watching right now, if they were to go through an interview process, what they could expect and how they could maybe be successful.

So, Simon, given that you're the most recent member of the panel here, it will be interesting to kind of maybe hear your experience, what was your interviewing experience like, and what recommendations, what tips would you give to somebody who might go through that process in the coming weeks?

Yeah, so the process, it was a lengthy process, and the good thing was actually Matthew, in the first call, gave me a very good understanding of that and why they were doing that.

I think he was a little bit apologetic at first saying, this won't be a one-week cycle.

This is going to be four weeks probably. There's quite some steps, but that's not just for us.

That's also for you. We want to make sure that you are happy with us and that you feel empowered to be here.

So the first step was a call with Matthew, just more general about your experience, talking a bit about CV, sort of just a normal conversation.

From there on, I went into a technical screening conversation with one of my other SE colleagues now.

From there on, we got into a sort of homework stage where I had to do a certain task, set up an application in a certain way involving Cloudflare and also a bit of infrastructure outside of that.

Really interesting, I learned some things in there because I was in a sort of different role before where I didn't have to do that specifically.

And I was just open about it.

In the upcoming calls, I said, well, I learned this, that, and that.

That and that I could just do without any issue. But what really interested me was that, that, and that.

And I think that was sort of the attitude that I like to see with the applicants that I see on a weekly basis as well.

If you can demonstrate that learning ability and that just being open about the things you know and the things you've learned, that's really great.

I love to see people that get hands-on and that really, well, just get stuff done and don't really just get stuck in certain issues.

So that would be my biggest tip. Be open about where you came from and what you've learned during this process.

Take your time, there's no point in rushing it.

And while you're learning, you're becoming a better person, you're becoming an employee regardless.

So even if you don't get the role, I think it's just a really great process to go through and really makes you a better solution engineer in general, not just for CloudStare, but for any company really.

Yeah, that's really insightful.

Thanks, Simon. Same question kind of to you, Matt, but from a different perspective, obviously you interviewed Simon and now he's a member of the team.

As a hiring manager, what kind of insights would you give to somebody who might be watching who may look to apply for an SE role?

What should they expect and how should they prepare?

So when I interview, I'm not looking to trick anyone.

I always remember my interview process at Cloudflare. I get really nervous at interviews.

I don't interview well. So I do not want to be Alan Sugar or whoever in the boardroom and sort of demand answers.

I'm here, as Simon said, it's an open chat.

I want people to be honest. I want people to be upfront, what they enjoy.

And yeah, transparent, because transparency is important in what we do working with customers.

There is always going to be things that no one, not even I could say anyone in here, knows everything about Cloudflare.

We don't know everything about every product.

There is always going to be gaps and that's fine. We just want people to try and showcase what they do know and their skills and why they would be a great fit to the team.

It's, yes, we are looking for technical curiosity.

We're looking for technical, but overall, and as Simon said, we are looking for the people that will help fit into the team and elevate the team.

We want them to feel welcomed.

We want them to feel part of it. And that is as much as the interview process, finding out their skills and their traits and what they're good at.

But are they going to enjoy working at Cloudflare? Are they going to enjoy working with us?

And, yes, enjoy their day-to-day. So that's why they meet a lot of different people.

They meet account executives. They meet CSMs. It's a two-way process and it's designed not to trick anybody.

It's just to try and find what their strong skills are and how that will then add to the wider team skills and bring us up to another level.

Yes, and it's interesting that you just mentioned the term technical curiosity there, Matt.

It's a term that I hear, I've heard a lot in Cloudflare since I've been here, not just from the SE team, but also across the organization.

The BDR team, they look for that. Kamila, it would be interesting to kind of get your thoughts on what exactly is technical curiosity for somebody who's watching who doesn't know, who's not heard that term before.

What does technical curiosity mean?

Oh, I would say, for my words, or in my words, what I would consider it is, is actually willing to learn something new.

It's not just about that making it stronger, the things that you already know and you already have an experience with, but basically also willing to touch other technologies, other parts of it, and learn more deeper, maybe just the standard level.

You go and try it.

For us, or for me, and the work that we do, the best way you can learn it, if you touch the technology, if you try to test it, if you try to replicate the same thing, simulate it in your things.

And this is what makes you actually technical savvy or technically experienced person, so that you know actually what the pros and cons of the solution that you're about to propose to the customers or partners.

That's why just trust and saying, I believe it will work, it's not always the best answer.

So that's why this is where solutions engineer come in and we rather test it.

We rather look at it together with another double eye of the colleague to make sure that it works.

So technical curiosity for me is just being willing to go deeper, one step deeper into technology and not afraid to do that and try something new.

Yeah. Yeah, that's really, I think that the explanations I've heard of technical curiosity, I think really echo what you've shared there.

So thanks very much Camilla.

As I mentioned at the start, I'm part of the recruiting team and obviously for me, when I make a hire, I kind of, obviously that's like a big win for me.

That makes me happy when we hire someone. I'd be interested to hear from USC's, what kind of gives you that same happy win feeling.

Matt, is there any part of your role that when you think about what you do, when you shut your laptop at the end of the day and you're like, yes, I'm really happy I did this or that happened.

What would you say kind of really gets you, makes you happy about your role?

So when I was an SE, it was winning deals or helping close deals that you've spent a lot of time and a lot of effort into.

I think now as a manager, you have to take the wins from your team.

So as Simon, when Simon sort of works on deals and he closes something and he comes to me in his one-to-one, like all the work and effort and he's happy, he's motivated that they've signed.

I then get sort of, I feel that win from him and he has been enabled, he's gone on his journey to get that and sort of, so that's where I shut my laptop.

You get messages from teams going, Shaz did a great job, he's another member of the team, did a great job in this deal.

And then we do shout outs every Friday at our beer meeting where SEs are prominent in that.

Camilla was in that beer meeting last week. That's not where you get those joys because you can't do the wins at a new business level anymore.

It's you get the wins from the team, the team feeling good and happy and motivated.

So you're basically living vicariously through Simon now.

Yes, totally. Well, same question to you, Simon.

Obviously so far, from your first six, seven months, what are some of the things that you think have made you close your laptop at the end of the day and feel that you've had a really good day?

I'm very bad at closing my laptop.

I noticed that. So I have on my personal phone, I have the chat and the email of work and I just really love my job.

So I sort of just do whatever I have to do to get stuff done.

I really enjoy just helping people. Although we're part of the sales organization, I very rarely find myself in that salesy commercial conversation.

I'm more of a, hey, I noticed you wanted to achieve this, that and that.

You should consider that, that and that and we're going to implement it that way.

And then that just does it. And I implement it. It works. Customer is happy.

I'm happy. That really makes a difference to me. And by the way, the power that we have at Cloudflare is immense.

For instance, two weekends ago, I was checking up on some t-shirts I ordered via service online.

I buy my custom t -shirts there for my side project for my nonprofit.

And it was down. I got the Cloudflare under attack page.

So just our JavaScript challenge. And I looked on Twitter and they were under attack and they were very open about it.

I looked them up and they were sort of a business self-service customer of ours.

And I just reached out and I was like, I want to help.

I know you're under attack. This is probably costing you a lot of money.

Let me help you. They became an enterprise customer.

At the end of the day, it made some money to the business, but they were happy that we were proactive.

I did my job probably a little bit more than just my job.

I was really happy. And that really made my day. And I started off the work week again because that was on a Sunday.

I'm very happy. That's sort of the energy that I get from this.

As long as I get to help people, I'm very happy. As long as they keep on challenging me and I learn new skills through that, I'm perfectly happy.

And yeah, that's that curiosity mindset again. I think it's just that sort of drives me being able to do new things, help people.

And would you say, you know, technical curiosity has kind of helped you in your role so far, Simon?

Yeah, definitely.

I'm a bit of a weird one in that I homeschooled myself until I was 18 and I never really did any like university or college in relation to technology.

I just started working and Microsoft hired me at a young age and I was able to learn in the job there.

And that sort of grew me into this position. It really is that mindset of just trying stuff, not just sending that email, it doesn't work, and hoping someone else will.

It's just being hands-on and doing stuff and like checking out all just social media and media about new technologies being on top of your game.

And if something new comes up, for instance, our durable object thing that I didn't know anything about, just doing the research, trying out stuff.

And now with Corona, you don't really have an excuse not to, because I mean, what are you going to do?

You're not going to go play football now. So you might as well spend some time trying to figure out what you're really trying to do.

Yeah. And I think that's, I actually didn't know that about you that you'd homeschooled yourself, which I think just underlines how much we embrace people with non-traditional educations or backgrounds, particularly in our software engineering team.

I know this is an SC Cloudflare TV segment, but companies I've recruited for in the past, they always insist on the individual having a computer science degree if they're applying for a software engineering job.

Where here at Cloudflare, we actually state on our job descriptions, this role does not require a computer science degree because we just want people who can demonstrate that they're willing to learn and that they're obviously adaptable.

So I think your background just underlines that.

So thanks so much for sharing that, Simon. So one of the things I know about SCs is that part of your role involves putting together a POC, a proof of concept, for a prospect.

Camilla, for anybody who perhaps maybe doesn't know what a POC is, could you explain what that is?

Absolutely. So POC stands for proof of concept.

Sometimes we have our customers, they're not sure if our solution will work for them better than existing one, or they're not sure if they're ready for it, or what it's like to work with Cloudflare.

They just need to get the feeling. Is it a good match?

Is it a good support they will get from our side? And would their team will be happy to work with us?

And this is where POC is extremely important. So it usually runs, depends like from two weeks maybe to maximum four weeks, to understand how Cloudflare can help and creates a solution that work and according to your needs.

In this process, both teams needs to be work very active together, where we have our solutions engineer team working with technical representators of the customer.

In this process, we, for example, doing some tests, onboarding maybe some testing domain with testing traffic to make sure, sometimes it can be also move to production if they're already happy and ready to do that.

But basically during this process, we're looking at the current situation.

What is actually missing?

Where, for example, we can lose the performance. What security that needs to be tuned.

In this case, solutions engineer is playing really critical role. You coming with your experience and you actually recommending a specific setup.

For example, we would like to do this and this is how we would like you to do that.

So this is the management solution, for example, or web application firewall or custom firewall rules.

Of course, there is a lots of different challenges coming in place because they might use in some software or any other providers.

You want to make sure it doesn't break anything there.

And during this POC, you're able to actually show the customer what it's like to work with Cloudflare, solutions engineer and team, customer success, support team, and many others to make sure that you've got full support from us.

You're very happy with technologies and the whole communication is the goal here to make sure that everybody knows what's happening next.

So this is the POC. And if it's successful, it completed the checklist that was actually set before the POC that this is what it's done.

It means that it's been successful and we can move to the second stage.

All right. So Matt, from Camilla's explanation there, it sounds like a POC is essentially a demo, like a test drive of the Cloudflare solution for the customer.

Yeah, totally. We do obviously try, well, we get success criteria.

What are they looking for? What do they want to test?

What improvements do they want to see? We need, we gather that before going into proof of concept rather than sort of the old analogy of kicking the tires when you look at a car.

So yeah, we will structure the tests, the test drive around what they're looking for just to understand and make sure we can then go, yes, yes, yes.

We did all this. All right, let's move to the next step. Okay. So I guess that that's really a really important part of the lead up to a new customer onboarding with us.

Because obviously they want to know that A, the solution, the Cloudflare product will actually function as advertised and then it will actually address the business challenge that they're looking to solve before they obviously sign on a dotted line.

So I guess in that respect, USCs play a very important part in helping the sales team get their deals over the line.


Great. Well, I think we're about to wrap up. So thank you, Camilla, Simon, and Matt for your time and for giving us this insight into your roles.

Hopefully everybody who's watched has found this really useful.

You can find Camilla, myself, Simon, and Matt on LinkedIn.

Thank you all for watching and wish you all a great day.

Thank you. Thank you. Bye.