My own cloud journey begins, I suppose, in my younger days when I was a “gamer.” (Did anyone else like Pokémon or Tomb Raider?) That led me to an interest in game design, which in turn led me to programming. I studied at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I chose software engineering as my major area of study rather than something like computer science because I really wanted to go beyond theory and become more hands-on.

After I graduated, I worked for a company that encouraged me to become a cloud engineer. They gave me time to study for my first cloud certificate, which at that time was the AWS developer exam. That put me on a path to becoming immersed in cloud and doing more in that field. And here I am.

On the leading edge of technology

Currently, I’m a Technology Architect Delivery Specialist within Accenture AWS Business Group and part of the LaunchPad team. This is a group of Accenture and AWS specialists with deep skills in strategic AWS services. Our teams focus on deals involving powerful but still emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT and cloud native. We help develop use cases, accelerators and reference architectures to enable learning, growth and re-use.

We take clients through design-thinking workshops, helping them create project prototypes and proofs of value, and incubate industry-specific solutions that can be scaled rapidly on AWS. When we build a proof of value, we're actually giving clients a working prototype that could potentially go into production later.

Freedom to learn

I am fortunate to be involved in interesting and challenging client work. For example, in one instance, I got involved creating chatbots for a company in the utilities industry. We programmed chatbots to help users with questions, directing them to videos or links to the proper FAQ. I had not used the service before, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and coded the rest of the bots to show the client. For this work, we used AWS Lambda, DynamoDB and Lex.

Another client, in the communications industry, was on an old infrastructure and wanted to move to the cloud, partly because of cost issues. At the time, they had only 300,000 records of operational IT data per second. They had tried to scale up but couldn’t make it happen. We created a new cloud architecture for them and were able to increase the number of records from 300,000 to 1.5 million. This project involved a great deal of learning, and going back and forth with AWS engineers to deliver the best result for the client. AWS Lambda, Kinesis, Elasticsearch and CloudWatch were part of the overall solution.

That’s one of the attractive things about being on the AABG team—being given the freedom to learn in a hands-on way. In fact, a good piece of advice I received from a mentor was to be more self-sufficient and learn more on my own. (Actually, he was blunter than that: “Don’t ask so many repetitive questions.” (!) But I took it to mean that I should focus first on figuring things out for myself.)

Women in cloud

It’s fitting that I am writing as part of the “Women in Cloud” blog series because I am the North America coaching lead for Accenture’s Women in Cloud program, where I have the opportunity to teach and mentor other women in the cloud field. When it comes to my own mentoring, I owe a lot to a woman I worked with in a previous job. I was faced with a difficult concept related to virtual private cloud, and I was grateful to this colleague who took time from her day to help me, even during her lunchtime. This inspired me to mentor others.

Currently, I’m focused on redoing the curriculum for the Women in Cloud program so it’s especially focused on real-life examples. I want our younger professionals to understand that many of the concepts we work with seem to be very challenging, but they’re really not when you see them in context and connect them with real life.

I like to take any opportunity I can to promote the work of women doing cloud work, help them get their first AWS certification, and contribute in some way to their future success.

Jean Cheng

Technology Architect Delivery Specialist – AABG

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