Originally aired on January 24 @ 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM EDT
Join Vlada and Hilal as they talk about their experience joining Cloudflare and the Solutions Engineering Graduate Program. Moving countries, having a non-technical background, deep diving into Cloudflare's products - they've done it all!
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here for Arabic, Russian or Hebrew language speakers, and here for Spanish, German, French or Italian language speakers. Hi everyone. Welcome. I'm super happy and excited to be here with you today. My name is Dani. I am part of the recruiting team at Cloudflare. I specialize in university programs and I am very happy to have these two ladies with me today. So I would like for them to introduce themselves as well a little bit. Shall we start with Vlada? Hi. I'm Vlada. I'm part of the ASC team based in Lisbon. I'm really happy to be here to talk about this program. I've learned so much so far and I've experienced so much. I hope that this can be enlightening. All right. Thank you so much. How about you Hilal? Hello. Thank you for your time today Dani. First of all. I'm Hilal. I'm one of the ASCs based in Lisbon at Cloudflare and I moved here in Lisbon like almost five months ago from Turkey to join this graduate program. So far so good. Great. Thank you so much for introducing yourselves. It's lovely to have you here in Lisbon which I think it's a beautiful city. I may be biased because I am based here, born and raised, but I do think it's a beautiful city. I hope you're enjoying it Hilal, but we'll definitely talk more about that in a minute. So of course I would love to hear all about what ASC is or what it stands for. So it is associate solutions engineer, right? Yes. Yeah. ASC stands for associate solutions engineer, but what I would like to highlight here is like it is not about the title. It's about the program that we join as a new graduates. Great. Great. And as graduates, you can imagine we don't have like a lot of experience. So what we really are, are solutions engineers and training, right? As associates. And this program really gives us the time and the opportunities to learn about the services, you know, the products that Cloudflare offers, but then also complete a lot of like important technical training, which due to our very diverse IT backgrounds can be very necessary. I can imagine. Oh my goodness. It must be like a whole new world to come into this, even if you have a background in tech and then having to learn all the products and all the terms and technicalities, it must be really challenging and time-consuming, right? Yes. Yes. But, you know, as long as you're curious and, you know, and you know how to manage your time, of course, anything, anything is achievable. So thank you so much for sharing. That's really cool to hear that you have the time and place to expand on your knowledge and skills. I was wondering, what is the solutions engineer or what are you training to do in practice? So we're learning how to be customer facing engineers, right? So we take the time during this graduate program to practice our communication skills, our presentation skills, right? And obviously learn about the technology, you know, so that we can contribute, I guess, to the company further down the line, right? Most people will come into a role like this, a solutions engineer or a sales engineer with maybe some previous experience, usually in sales, of course. But sometimes you need to build upon that a little bit in order to be a great sales engineer, right? In order to be a good solutions engineer, be able to connect with our customers and, of course, with our colleagues. Yeah, because we are like solutions engineer here, I always love to imagine it like that. We are the bridge between the customers and the deep dive technical teams in the company. So it's always good hearing about customers' problem requests and being able to build upon this request and having maybe new perspective for the, you know, engineers, technical teams. Great, thank you so much for sharing. That's really interesting because I was going to ask you why is solutions engineering so important for Cloudflare? But I think I get a little bit of the picture now. So you're essentially storytellers and you hear what the customers say and you try and, you know, tell them a story of how you can fix, you know, their problems or the issues that they have with technology by suggesting new products or ways that we can work together to their ends. And if there were no solutions engineers, then I think, you know, the customers wouldn't be as well prepared and they also wouldn't know very well what to do because you come up with all of the solutions that they need. Yeah, we use what we have at our disposal, yes, with Cloudflare and we try to, let's say, architect a solution that can fit customers. And the thing about Cloudflare is that all of our technology is very, how do you say, it can be integrated with other technologies. So clients will come, customers will come with maybe an infrastructure that already exists and then we help transition into something that can be improved. Yeah, we help improve upon those infrastructures. Sounds correct. Thank you so much for sharing, both of you. That was great to hear. So I have another question about being an ASC or being part of the solutions engineering team. So, of course, you know, you talked about how you are learning a lot and have a lot of space and time to learn, but I would like to understand how you structure your days more or less, especially because, you know, Cloudflare being a hybrid and flexible team when it comes to schedules, I would like to hear more about what each of you is doing currently. Actually, during the graduate program, our main purpose was to improve our technical skills and the soft skills together. But what we were learning mostly about, you know, IT and networking, cybersecurity solutions. And at the end, to get familiar with the product portfolio of Cloudflare for sure. So for a lot of us, for all three of us, because there's three of us right now, there was a lot of independent learning, right? Especially for me, for example. So and Cloudflare offers many educational resources. So it wasn't difficult to be directed to the right place, you know, to find information that we needed or learn about a technology that maybe we weren't familiar with. Right. But especially for us, we had a lot of hands on support from SEs, solutions engineers who were more experienced or had more time in the field or have very particular knowledge in some kind of technology. And we were able to do like deep dives into the technologies that are behind the Cloudflare portfolio. Right. We had we had a lot of support, of course, when it comes to prioritizing our, you know, furthering our education and technology, etc. And also, you know, in how to work with our schedule and understand, you know, what are the skills that we actually have to improve upon? So it was also a lot of understanding where it is that we ourselves are not the best at and kind of jumping head first into learning those skills, you know, with with some help, of course. So, you know, towards the end, I think I think it's been for me, I started in August. Towards the end, we we had learned so, so much that we were even ready to do some more like practical and like on the job training, assist other experienced engineers, maybe help take away, you know, their workload, you know, even do do presentations. It was it's been very good. Thank you so much for sharing. I love what you just shared, both of you. It's really great to hear that you've been learning a lot. And of course, you know, with Cloudflare, I do think, and this, I think, applies to all departments here, all teams, we do have a very open perspective on knowledge sharing. And we do think that and we do support that, you know, folks from different departments can come together to learn more about a certain thing or share what they know, which I find great. And you just touched upon that. And I thought it was super interesting, like, there's no need to be shy. Or, you know, sometimes we even fear like bothering others with our questions that we think are silly. But there's no silly questions. And everyone's really happy to help. So I'm glad that you've had this experience as well, here at Cloudflare. So I wanted to ask you as well. So of course, you've started a few months back, you have some experience now, you're still working your way through everything, I'm sure there's a lot that you have to learn. But so far, what is the thing that has surprised you the most as an ASC at Cloudflare? For me, it would have to be the sheer amount of information that I have learned in such a short period of time, the learning curve. You know, I look back on these like few months, you know, and I'm amazed at how elastic my mind has been. If I'm on it, you know, I've been able to solidify my soft skills, of course, like in sales and communication presentation skills. And because I didn't have a technical background before, I used all of those resources I mentioned, educational resources, especially that Cloudflare has to gain those technical skills that I needed, you know. Mostly the same for me as well. But for also the most surprising for me was, I think how like, we just talked about it, but how like helpful and how like inclusive were my colleagues were for us to like, you know, kind of get used to our new environment. So yeah, I'm extremely grateful for those helps. And I think the thing that I found the most interesting here, happiness, success, maybe and fulfillment are not seen like the just the individual thing here. So I think everyone is willing to like putting the best effort that they can put and contributing to community, creating the best environment eventually. Oh, that's so great to hear. Thank you so much for sharing. That's really, that's really nice. I have to say that I do relate with the learning curve. Of course, being part of the recruiting team, on one hand, we don't need to be technical, but then again, working at Cloudflare, you do need to know your stuff and all the products and technologies. And so even in the onboarding class, I felt like I had so much to learn some things, you know, are just, you need to read them once and once more to really understand what you're seeing. But it's once again, it's great that we have such a great team and folks who are very happy to just stop what they're doing and help you understand if you ask. So I do relate with the sheer amount of information that you have to get. So I can only imagine what you both have been through. And yeah, the team, like you shared, I mean, the environment is absolutely great. I do agree. I do think we have a great team here in Lisbon, specifically, although the team is great everywhere. But where we are working right now, I do think that we are very close and support each other a lot. And so I think that's also in part, thanks to you for joining and for making this a great place to work at. So thank you so much for that. All right. So now that we've gone over what you do and why, you know, what surprised you the most and what your experience has been like, I would like to ask you both, you know, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in trying for this program? Oh, I would say like, go for it, apply for it. You will never be disappointed. And I think recommend reading Cloudflare blog pages because I am confident to say that like those pages like can be beneficial for anyone. And yeah, I think so far, that's all. Those blog pages are very important, especially during the interview process. Just a little caveat in there. But for me, it was the biggest advice I can give is to be confident in yourself and be very curious, you know, be really lean into that need to learn new things, that curiosity, that hunger for information, because it's out there. And in our team, there are especially here in Lisbon, there are so many people willing to share their knowledge with you, you know, so many people that will take the time out of their day to show you something new, you know, so that you have the tools necessary to be able to support the team in the future. Right. So be very, so be very hungry for information. But also, I just want to reiterate, you know, that Cloudflare really does see the value in a very diverse team. So even during the recruitment process with you, Dani, it was very evident that no matter what maybe my limitations were, in one regard, you still saw value in maybe another skill that I had gained over time or over experience. And so maybe you won't be on the same footing when you begin with your colleagues, but you will still be valued. And the guidance and the potential that you will see at Cloudflare is limitless. So definitely, just like you all said, apply and go for it. It's like, you won't regret it. Thank you so much for sharing. That's great, you two. I do think people should just apply, you know, if they see an opportunity, they should take it. Being confident, of course. And one thing that rings very true, even if you don't check all of the boxes, I know there are some folks who only apply if they know that they for sure have all of the necessary skills and knowledge. But even if that's not the case, you'll never know if you don't try. So you should definitely do that for yourself, if not for anyone else. So do it. You'll never know what happens. And we do have a great team here in Lisbon. The Solutions Engineering team, I know, is very hands-on and very, very available to help. And I do think that we do have a great career path here for Solutions Engineers. We can talk about that a little bit afterwards. But, you know, there are so many things that you can grow into and that you can like and do here at Cloudflare. Like Vlada said, it's pretty much limitless. So thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on what people should do. I do agree with everything you said. And yes, I mean, I did recruit you and I am always available to answer any questions anyone may have. So I'm just putting it out there in case it rings for anyone. But yeah, thank you so much. Thank you so much for sharing. I would like now that we've gone over everything in general, I would like to ask Hilal about your experience, because obviously, you know, you had to move a few countries over to start working here at Cloudflare in Lisbon. So maybe let's start from the beginning. What motivated you to apply to the ASE program? I can say that I was always like dreaming about working in a multicultural, global, diverse company. It was like my dream. But I really impressed by the Cloudflare pages, Cloudflare blog pages, because I realized that how much those people in Cloudflare before, back then, were able to contribute to community and reach anyone online with those awesome blog pages. And they were using easy to understand language, even for people without having IT backgrounds. And I recall that there was this blog page about when a big tech company was down, and they were explaining what was the scenario behind this incident. And I immediately sent this blog page link to my other friends. And they were able to understand. I mean, they didn't have IT background before, and they were able to understand and appreciate the work being done by Cloudflare to tell people the stories about big incidents and everything, how Internet works. So yeah, this was mainly about it. But also, I want to mention that one of my friends was a fan of Cloudflare. And when he saw first the ASE role opening in LinkedIn, he immediately sent me the link of the role opening, and kind of encouraged me to apply for it. And of course, thanks to my family's support and these encouragements, I went for it. And it's worked well. I'm so happy. It did work well. We're glad to have you here. It's interesting. In your previous answer, and now as well, you mentioned the blog, the Cloudflare blog. And I do have to say it is rich in information. And one thing that Cloudflare is great at, like you just explained, is that it explains everything that happens. And it does deep dives and explains in a pretty simple way in comparison to how it actually is. So everyone can understand why a certain website went down, what's behind that, what caused it. And even when Cloudflare does something wrong, I just remember this. But when something happens at Cloudflare, like an incident, we're not perfect. So everyone makes mistakes, and we do too as a company. But there's always a blog post explaining in detail and being honest with clarity about what happened. And I do think that is a great thing to have in a company, being transparent and honest. But yes, thank you so much for sharing. It must have been exciting, but also a little bit frightening, I can imagine, moving to Lisbon. But how did you feel? How was it for you? I would say I tend to be optimistic for anything in my life. But of course, I was worried about taking the risk of moving across the continents. And if I'm being able to get used to my new environment, and if I'm going to be liking it or not. So yeah, I thought about these possibilities. But I'm so glad and proud of myself that I didn't let my concerns become some obstacles for my future. And yeah, I'm grateful that what I have made, I mean, I have made my decision for the best for my future and career. Yes, exactly. You were very brave, I'm sure. I mean, it is frightening. But I mean, I'm sure not everyone could have done what you did. And I'm glad that you're enjoying the experience and that it's working well for you. Because I know that I am glad to have you here in the team as well. So overall, it's a win-win situation, it seems like. But did you have any concerns at all, you know, about this? Or, you know, were they all mitigated once you arrived and you saw the team and the office and the city and... Yeah, for sure. I mean, bureaucracy and the whole moving process is not easy and a quick thing to have. But I would say that as being an expat in Lisbon, the city has many opportunities for expats. And it has vibrant neighbourhoods, awesome culture and dishes, like awesome, delicious foods and safe environment for sure. And yeah, I mean, I had those concerns. And even though the whole process wasn't like, you know, in a day, click. I'm so happy that my process went almost smoothly and, you know, as easy as it could be. Great, it's lovely to hear. The city has a lot to offer, I'm sure. So I think you'll have a lot to explore in the coming years, if you decide to stay around. But thank you so much for sharing. I have just one last question for you. What has been the most fun thing that you can think of about moving to and living in Lisbon? Okay, because I moved in Lisbon, like I was able to meet many new people, like with different backgrounds and cultures. So it was mainly like so fun thing about it. And also, I was able to, you know, travel around Portugal. And I got to see some like awesome cities like Monsanto, Castelo Branco, and Sintra, like Tomar. And I still remember how insanely like beautiful was the sunset color, you know, color of sunset in Monsanto. And yeah, I'm amazed by the culture here. Everyone is welcoming, everyone is like able to like, connect with you. Yeah, meeting new people and exploring around was the most fun thing for me so far. Thank you so much for sharing Hilal. It's great that you're having fun and that you're having a good experience so far. I hope it remains like that for the whole of your stay in Lisbon. But yes, thank you so much. That's that was great to hear. I feel very happy for you. Okay, now on to Vlada. I have some questions for you as well. Because you had a different story than Hilal's. So I would like to ask you what motivated you to apply to the ASC program? So I was going to school here in Lisbon, right? My education is in mining and geology. I actually studied like in the center of Lisbon. It's very close to where our office is now. But I'd always been interested in IT and networking. Because coming from Angola, being able to establish those connections with people near and far was always very important. Being able to bring people closer together and establish lines of communication was always very important. I'd always thought of it from a structural standpoint, I guess. But the technology was always very interesting to me also. So when I applied to this position, the thing that stood out to me the most was that Cloudflare was open to people from different technical backgrounds. And so I was very sure that I would receive the support that I needed. And I was very also impressed that Cloudflare was willing to invest in people with backgrounds like my own. That was very important to me. Thank you for sharing. I do remember when I joined, I read a few blog posts as well. And somewhere there was a text about how we even had like a swimmer, a musician, you know, folks with different careers and different paths in life who eventually joined Cloudflare to do one thing or another. So it continues to amaze me. I do think that's a good thing. I fully support that. Because we shouldn't let a decision that we make when we're a teen or however old we are, you know, define the rest of our lives if we don't want it to. So I fully support, you know, getting folks from different paths of life, especially because we all have different skills. No two people will have the exact same skill set. And that's good, because we can learn from each other and improve. And I think that's a key point. And I'm glad that it resonated with you. And, you know, and that you felt supported applying and then joining the program, because that's exactly the point. So I'm glad it worked well for you. And of course, you know, Cloudflare, we are based in Lisbon, but it would be a lie to say that we only work with people who are based in Lisbon or companies who are based in Lisbon, because Cloudflare is actually a very global company, just because of the nature of the work that we do and the clients that we have. So I would like to ask you more about what is it like to work with a global team and a global customer base? Global customer base is so interesting, because I see customers from all over the world, people who speak very different languages. And sometimes even we have, we have clientele who, for example, don't speak English. And so having the opportunity to be able to follow those customers and their journeys and learning from them is just is wonderful. I honestly never even thought that would be a possibility for me. So I'm very thankful for that. But more than anything, a global team, it means a very global perspective, right? And being someone who is dislocated from my own home country, I'm from Angola, I've always looked for opportunities to be in very diverse work environments. Great. Thank you so much to both of you for sharing and for spending this time with us. It was super insightful. I'm sure that, you know, if there was anyone who was wondering whether they should apply or not, I'm sure that their answers have already been delivered and that they will be applying soon. So once again, thank you so much. Is there anything you'd like to share before we go? Like any last bit of advice or, you know, any thoughts? I'd say in my case, maybe don't be intimidated by the process, you know, of maybe the interview process or the information that is shared with you and how difficult it may seem to apply or prepare for those steps. Because really, they were all very good opportunities to get to know the company, get to know yourself, you know, and how you, how the information or how the company will resonate with you. And even, even it can help you expose some of the skills that you didn't know that you had and find a way to leverage them. So don't be intimidated by the process, you know, trust in the process. That's some advice that I would say is very important. Yeah, I will say that just, just try because you wouldn't know without trying it. Try and see. Wise words, wise words. Thank you once again so much. And if you have any questions about the graduate program, feel free to email careers at Cloudflare.com and we'll be sure to get back to you. Otherwise, keep an eye out on our careers page so you can see all of the opportunities. Thank you so much, Vlada and Hilal for joining once again, and I hope you all have a great day.