Whether you’re looking to land your first job as a cloud architect or propel your cloud career upwards, you will inevitably encounter two barriers: certification training and personal development. But here’s the thing; building a successful career as a cloud architect isn’t inherently difficult. It’s only challenging if you don’t develop the right professional skills after completing your certification training.
Certification training is a great tool for entry-level job seekers. This level of training is fantastic at teaching you the names of specific cloud providers and their services but does little in teaching you the proper skills you’ll need to become a professional cloud architect with a successful top-tier career. This is where professional development comes into play.
Becoming a successful cloud architect requires a melting pot of technical skills and soft skills. Although technical skills like design are at the core of your role, the majority of skills you’ll need are non-technical. Cloud architect roles require strong leadership, relationship management, sales skills, and communication ability. Certification training is a great launching pad for a successful cloud architect career, but you’ll need to train and develop personally for your career to truly take off.
Cloud architect roles are hybrid positions, requiring a unique blend of technical and soft skills like leadership and emotional intelligence. The majority of your work will rely on your non-technical skills, meaning you won’t learn how to become a great architect just from completing certification training on Python or DevOps. Certifications are important to show technical efficacy, but in order to grow your career, you’ll need to learn how to become an effective and efficient project manager, salesperson, and leader. Here are some of the most important skills you will need to train and develop professionally in order to become a cloud architect with a career path that has a steep upward trajectory.
As a cloud architect, you’ll need to know key information about your clients’ businesses in order to develop solutions for them. After all, the underlying reason why companies buy technology is to solve their problems. In order to build those solutions, you must be able to take what a client tells you about their business and convert it into a technical solution for them. Without the business acumen to understand your client’s pain points, you won’t be able to design or deliver a solution that solves their problems.
Along with business acumen, cloud architects need to be able to communicate effectively with clients to obtain the information we need from them. No one will ever hand you a diagram and say, “design this.” You must be able to communicate with the client’s executive leaders, engineers, managers, and other stakeholders to understand their problems and how you can design a solution that solves them. This also means you need to be able to ask the right questions, because you won’t be able to ask the same questions a thousand different times. Some of those questions will be more sensitive in nature, too, so you need to be emotionally intelligent enough to ask the right questions in the right way.
Design is at the forefront of the technical skills you will need to succeed as a cloud professional. We design systems from end to end, but we can only accomplish this by having the business acumen and communication skills to ask a client the right questions about their company, its challenges, goals, and competition. Without that information, we won’t be able to design a solution that best fits their needs. Since you’ll have to present that design to the client and sell them on it, you’ll need to develop your professional skills. This can’t be done with certification training alone.
Cloud architects have to be leaders by the nature of their role. Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself leading teams of engineers who don’t work directly for you, which is much more difficult than leading teams or employees who do. In order to get these people who don’t work for you to complete a project on time — and to the client’s satisfaction — you need to be a strong leader with a high capacity to positively motivate others in their role, so you’re going to need phenomenal emotional intelligence to influence and persuade them to do this. The most efficient cloud architects are also efficient leaders.
Along with technical skills like design, as well as soft skills like leadership and communication, cloud architects need to be efficient salespeople. We are constantly selling our solutions to our clients — and the stakeholders at their companies to implement those solutions — but also have to sell our own managers to provide us with the resources we need to do our job effectively. Anything you design and propose internally or externally with the goal of expanding your sales will require additional buy-in, so you need to learn how to become a capable salesperson to obtain that buy-in regardless of who you are talking to, where, or when.
Writing and Documentation
Outside of design, perhaps the most important professional skill you will need to become a successful cloud architect is the ability to generate technical documents and other pieces of writing. Writing documents that are easy for others to understand involves approximately 25 percent of our role. We not only need our documents and writing to be easily understood by every client, but also more technical documents for key stakeholders in the client’s organization who requests them — whether they are at the CXO level or middle management.
In addition, you will also be responsible for regularly responding to requests for information, proposals, and quotes. Your writing will need to show that the value of your solutions is more beneficial than the costs. Having excellent writing and documentation skills is a critical component of your professional development, regardless of where you are in your cloud career.
The author, Michael Gibbs, is CEO & Founder at Go Cloud Careers