What’s it like to work at Solita and in the Cloud team? During recruitment meetings and discussions, candidates bring up a range of questions and preconceptions about life at Solita. I asked Helinä Nuutinen from our Cloud Services team in Helsinki to answer some of the most common ones. She might be a familiar face to those who’ve had a technical interview with us.
Helinä, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been with Solita for a year as a Cloud Service Specialist in the Cloud Services team. Before that, I worked with more traditional data centre and network services. I was particularly interested in AWS and DevOps, but the emphasis of my previous role was a little different. I participated in Solita’s AWS training, and before I knew it, I started working here.
Currently, I’m part of the operations team of our media-industry customer. Due to coronavirus, we’re working from home, getting used to the new everyday life. I have five smart and friendly team mates, with whom I would normally sit at the customer site from Monday through Thursday. The purpose of our team is to develop and provide tools and operational support services for development teams. We develop and maintain shared operational components such as code-based infrastructure with Terraform and Ansible, manage logs with Elasticsearch Stack as well as DevOps tools and monitoring.
I typically spend my free time outdoors in Western Helsinki, take care of my window sill garden, and work on various crafting and coding projects. Admittedly, lately I haven’t had much energy to sit at the computer after work.
Let’s go through the questions. Are the following statements true or false?
#1 Solita’s Cloud team only works on cloud services, and you won’t succeed if you don’t know AWS, for example.
Practically false. Solita will implement new projects in the public cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP) if there are no regulatory maintenance requirements. We produce regulated environments in the private cloud together with a partner.
To succeed at Solita, you don’t have to be an in-depth expert on AWS environments – interest and background in similar tasks in more traditional IT environments is a great start. If you’re interested in a specific cloud platform, we offer learning paths, smaller projects, or individual tasks.
Many of our co-workers have learned the ins and outs of the public cloud and completed certifications while working at Solita. We are indeed learning at work.
#2 At Solita, you’ll be working at customer sites a lot.
Both true and false. In the Cloud team, it’s rare to sit at the customer site full time. We’re mindful of everyone’s personal preferences. I personally like working on site. Fridays are so-called office days when you have a great reason to visit the Solita office and hang out with colleagues and people you don’t normally meet.
In consulting-focused roles, you’ll naturally spend more at the customer site, supporting sales as well. (Ed. Note: Our customers’ wishes regarding time spent on site vary. In certain projects, it’s been on the rise lately. However, we will always discuss this during recruitment so that we’re clear on the candidate’s preferences before they join us.)
#3 Solita doesn’t do product development.
Practically false – we do product development, too. Our portfolio includes at least ADE (Agile Data Engine) and WhiteHat. Our Cloud Services team is developing our own monitoring stack, so we also do “internal development”. (Ed. Note: The majority of Solita’s sales comes from consulting and customer projects, but we also do in-house product development. In addition to WhiteHat and Agile Data Engine, we develop Oravizio, for example. Together, these amount to about 2 MEUR. Solita’s net sales in 2019 was approximately 108 MEUR.)
#4 If you’re in the Cloud team, you need to know how to code.
Sort of. You don’t have to be a super coder. It also depends what kind of projects you have in the pipeline. However, in the Cloud Services team, we build all infrastructure as code, do a lot of development work around our monitoring services, and code useful tools. We’re heavy users of Ansible, Python Terraform and Cloudformation, among others, so scripting or coding skills are definitely an advantage.
#5 The team is scattered in different locations and works remotely a lot.
Sort of true. We have several Cloud team members in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku, and I would argue that you’ll always find a team mate in the office. You can, of course, work remotely as much as your projects allow. Personally, I like to visit the office once a week to meet other Solitans.
To ease separation, we go through team news and discuss common issues in bi-weekly meetings. During informal location-specific discussions, we share and listen to each other’s feedback.
#6 I have a lengthy background in the data centre world, but I’m interested in the public cloud. Solita apparently trains people in this area?
True. We offer in-house learning paths if you’re looking to get a new certfication, for example, or are otherwise interested in studying technology. You’ll get peer support and positive pressure to study at the same pace with others.
As mentioned earlier, public cloud plays a major role in our work, and it will only get stronger in the future. The most important thing is that you’re interested in and motivated to learn new things and work with the public cloud. (Ed. Note: From time to time, we offer free open-to-all training programmes around various technologies and skills.)
#7 The majority of Solita’s public cloud projects are AWS projects.
True. I don’t have the exact figures, but AWS plays the biggest part in our public cloud projects right now. There’s demand for Azure projects in the market, but we don’t have enough people to take them on. (Ed. Note: The share of Azure is growing fast in our customer base. We’re currently strengthening our Azure expertise, both by recruiting new talents, and by providing our employees with the opportunity to learn and work on Azure projects.)
#8 Apparently Solita has an office and Cloud experts in Turku?
Yes! In Turku, we have six Cloud team members: four in the Cloud Services team (including subcontractors) plus Antti and Toni who deliver consulting around cloud services. I haven’t been to the office but I hear it’s fun. (Ed. Note: Solita has five offices in Finland: Tampere, Helsinki, Oulu, Turku and Lahti. At the moment, Cloud is represented in all other cities except Oulu and Lahti.)
#9 Solita sells the expertise of individuals. Does this mean I’d be sitting at the customer site alone?
Mostly a myth. It depends on the project – some require on-site presence from time to time, but a lot work can be done flexibly in the office or remotely. No one will be forced to sit at the customer site alone. Projects include both individual and team work. This, too, largely depends on the project and the employee’s own preferences.
#10 Solita doesn’t have a billing-based bonus.
True. If we have one, no one has told me. (Ed. Note: Solita’s compensation model for experts is based on a monthly salary.)
#11 Solita only works with customers in the public sector.
False. Solita has both public and private sector customers, from many different industries. (Ed. Note: In 2019, around 55% of our Cloud customers were from the private sector.)
#12 Projects require long-term commitment, so you’ll be working on the same project for a long time.
True, if that’s what you want! When I started at Solita, my team lead asked me in advance what kind of projects I’d like to be part of, and what would be an absolute no-no. I’m happy to note that my wishes have actually been heard. But it might be because I’m not picky. Projects can last from a few days to years, and people might be working on several projects at the same time. Of course, you can also rotate between projects, so a final commitment isn’t necessary.
Helinä was interviewed by Minna Luiro who’s responsible for the Cloud unit’s recruiting and employer image at Solita in Finland. Do you have more questions or thoughts around the above topics? You can reach out to Minna: +358 40 843 6245 or [email protected].
If you’d like to know more about Cloud related career opportunities at Solita in Sweden, reach out to Annina Troberg: +46 72 0607 680 or [email protected]