Team: Modern Apps
Business Unit: Global Delivery
From October 2016 to present
As a Premier Field Engineer I deliver a range of proactive services to our customers across the EMEA region. Most of my engagements are on-site with the customer, but some are delivered remotely.
The services I deliver include, but are not limited to:
- Workshops & Structured Courses
- These are standardised proactive packages that can be booked by Microsoft customers across the world
- Custom Proactive Deliveries
- Often a workshop does not quite fit the brief. I then adjust the available resources and create new ones to fit the customer’s need.
- Risk Assessments
- For some products, Microsoft offers risk assessment software that can be run by the customer or with the help of an engineer.
- Running this software with an engineer can be highly beneficial as it can educate the customer about how to best read the data and how to respond to issues effectively.
- Onboarding & Migration Support
- My team and I help customers who are just getting to know a new product, dramatically accelerating their learning, and helping them to start using the new piece of software quicker.
- To ensure that our customers can make the most out of these sessions, we deliver a mixture of classroom, remote support, and hands-on sessions.
- Proactive On-Site Support
- This is when one of the people in my team or I are placed in a development team for a few days.
- Everyone in the team specialises in a certain set of technologies and can help provide the depth that some teams are lacking.
My focus technologies are:
- Application Lifecycle Management & DevOps
- Team Foundation Server
- Visual Studio Team Services
- Microsoft Azure (focused around Cloud Development)
Microsoft Azure Infrastructure
Team: UK Windows Support Escalations
Business Unit: CSS (Customer Services & Support)
From September 2015 to October 2016
As a Support Engineer, I helped our global business customers make the most out of their Azure infrastructure.
It was part of my job to give advice on performance, best practices, infrastructure design, and deployments, while also being on hand for break fix support, when a problem with our infrastructure arose. My technical responsiblilities ranged from giving advice about effectively configuring group policy on a Windows Azure machine to detecting and identifying malicious software on a Linux virtual machine.
There is a large amount of different problems to solve and customer scenarios to understand in cloud infrastructure, and no two problems are ever the same.
All major responsibilities in a Support Engineering role can be broken down into three different categories:
- Problem Analysis, Customer Support: People Side
- Technical Side, Troubleshooting & Education
- Documentation, Community & Knowledge Capture
Problem Analysis & Customer Support
The cloud is a competitive place and we are now facing a marketplace, where customers have every opportunity to switch providers if they are not happy with their service. This premise requires us to differentiate ourselves against the competition. The only substainable advantage that can be maintained is Customer Support as prices are already very competitive, and uptime and availability are high across providers.
When a customer logs a support ticket with us we make a real effort to understand the customer’s scenario before jumping straight into the troubleshooting cycle. It is important that the resolution of a problem is a mutual process and that any information given is relevant, accurate, and current.
I personally provide support in three different languages and to all EMEA countires, which means that I am faced with a large amount of different cultures that I need to understand. I make a concious effort to remind myself that no size ever fits all and that every customer is different, which is important if you want to provide the right level of service.
What I love about this aspect of my job is that often we can make a big positive change to the customer’s situation with just a few easy changes. This is only possible if we understand their situation and this is a real challenge to tackle every day.
Technical & Educational
Infrastructure as a Service is a very broad area, which means that sometimes I am having to familiarise myself with a new technology as I approach a case. It’s important to have the right mindset and to embrace one’s ability to learn in these scenarios. Often my customers will have a very custom scenario but require help understanding the underlying infrastructure and how it relates to what they are doing. I can only offer quality advice, if I know their application.
I love challenging cases where a problem needs to be mitigated quickly before, the root cause of the problem needs to be determined, but I like educational or advisory cases just as much. It is very interesting to learn about what a customer tries to do with Azure and to give advice on how they should best approach their problem.
It is great that Azure is such a flexible platform, that allows people to run almost any cloud application in many different ways. Understanding and learning new features almost every day and helping customers as they discover them is very interesting and rewarding.
Knowledge Capture & Community
Part of my job is to make sure we capture customer problems accurately and correctly, as what our customers do is the very best feedback we can get. I regularly feed back to the different product teams involved in the development of the Azure platform and let customers know about our progress on the development of hotfixes and the rollout of updates.
It is also very important to capture common issues and educate my wider team. I am running my own series of workshops and trainings, one for non-technical colleagues, and one for technical ones, that is aimed at giving people a crash course in all things Azure.
On top of this I tend to record common solutions and publicise them on the internet to help you find a solution, before you need to contact Azure Support, so that your problem can be solved even quicker.
The Microsoft MACH Scheme
I am a MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hires) hire. MACH is Microsoft’s global graduate scheme and the company hires about 30 graduates in the UK each year.
People are hired in four different streams:
- Business Consulting (previously included in Technical)
I am part of the technical stream. Hiring usually starts early in the university year (October/November time) and successful applicants are hired into a stream. Their roles are then later confirmed (February/March).
Being a part of the MACH scheme can help to open many doors in the company. The scheme also provides unique global training opportunities.
In my first couple of months on the job I spent six weeks in Romania for the global Customer Services and Support onboarding. Later in my first year I went to Dublin for the MACH skill up training and there are more opportunites to come before the scheme completes at the end of my second year in Microsoft.
Team: Query Formulation Platform Team
Business Unit: Bing (Search Technology Centre)
From July 2013 to August 2014
One thing that I really enjoyed about my internship, was to see that Microsoft recognises talent and allows talented people to grow in their roles and take on more responsibilities and accountabilities as they go along.
During my internship I worked in a team that provides the platform for query suggestions and auto suggestions in the Bing search engine.
I soon discovered that Bing is much more than a search engine. In the big network of Microsoft’s apps, devices, and services Bing is an important product that enables Microsoft’s products to implement additional features and provide more information when it is necessary. The platform provides services to all major products in the Microsoft network, and – being an intern – I got a lot of exposure to teams across Microsoft, working with different App and Core development teams.
Being a fast and efficient learner I managed to acquire a deep knowledge of C# and other programming and scripting languages. I developed the ability to read and understand big code bases and experienced for the first time, what it is like to work on a big software product in a team
Get On is structured into three distinct teams for School Events, “Get Inspired” Events, and Work Experience. I took on a role as the Readiness Manager for the Get On Work Experience team in London.
Readiness Manager for the Get On Work Experience Scheme
From September 2013 to June 2014
As the Readiness Manager my main task was to ensure that a work experience week runs smoothly. This involved liaising with more senior colleagues who would give talks to our trainees, as well as solving the logistical challenge of having rooms available for all group activities. I was also in charge of ordering and setting up loan devices for the work experience candidates.
One of my other responsibilities was to organise and run our work experience week assessment centres together with the rest of the team. I also prepared and organised my own bespoke training sessions for candidates whenever it was required.
Additionally I spent time helping out at ‘Schools’ and ‘Get Inspired’ events, which were a good opportunity to connect with young people who are interested in technology. Often I was the only person in a technical role at these events, which meant that I got a lot of engagement, questions, and also positive feedback, which was great.