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From Good to Great: Succeeding as Solutions Architects and Leaders in the Cloud 

“What do you want to do?”  


Matt Henry, Senior Leader of Solutions Architecture at AWS, poses this question on a recent episode of Altitude, describing it as incredibly important yet incredibly challenging to answer for your career. 


“When I was asked this question, I felt like I was going 80 miles an hour on the highway, and then it just hit the brakes in my head because I couldn’t answer the question point blank,”said Matt. 


So why is this question so vital? Let’s dive into the highlights from Matt’s conversation with Woody on Altitude, in which they discuss the pivotal role of cloud solution architects (CSAs) in shaping the cloud industry, the power of mentorship, the need for adaptability in an industry with evolving skill sets, and what differentiates good leaders from great ones.


Cultivating the Talent Pool to Meet the Evolving Demands of the Cloud Industry


The conversation starts off with Matt helping us understand the pivotal role of cloud solution architects (CSAs) in shaping the industry. Matt emphasizes the importance of self-introspection in such roles, urging aspiring CSAs to ask themselves, “What do I want to do?” 


The true magic, Matt believes, lies in this introspection coupled with an insatiable passion for continuous learning. It is this magical mix that can help cultivate a talent pool ready for the ever-evolving demands of the cloud industry. 


“I think there are enough talented individuals around us, in our society, around the world to do these roles. But I think there’s a lot of people who are not in the right places,” said Matt.


The Power of Mentorship in the Cloud Industry and Beyond


The conversation takes a deeper dive when Matt discusses the significance of guidance in one’s career path – be it from mentors, coaches, or sponsors. In this digital age, companionship in the professional journey is not just deemed valuable, but essential for the overall growth and development of an individual, especially in tech. 


Matt and Woody touch on the obstacles of nurturing and maintaining these relationships amidst the pandemic. They examine the evolving dynamics of remote leadership and the possibilities of impactful mentorship in a virtual environment.


Facing the Evolving Skill Set Required in the Cloud Industry


In light of the ever-changing landscape of the tech industry, Matt highlights the need for adaptability and the continuous enhancement of skill sets. It’s not just about the specific skills you start with, but an “appetite for embracing change.” 


“It’s not about your velocity, it’s about your acceleration. How quickly can you pivot? How quickly can you acquire new skills? How quickly can you help your customer be successful based on their business outcomes that they need? The skill sets are changing day to day,” said Matt. 


While the journey of a cloud professional may be challenging, Matt enlightens us on the power of resilience, adaptability, and most importantly, the quest for knowledge in navigating the challenges of industry churn, culture, and loyalty factors among cloud solution architects (CSAs). 


Good Leaders vs Great Leaders 


For Matt, the transition from being a good manager to a great one involves switching from a ‘me’ mindset to a ‘team’ mindset. He describes great managers as empathetic rather than sympathetic, perceptive rather than aware, curious rather than inquisitive, authoritative rather than authoritarian, and prescient rather than cautious.  


“If you can see what your people need, three steps ahead, four steps ahead, and give that to them, that’s a great leader. If you are trying to keep somebody out of harm’s way today, yesterday, being reactionary, that’s not really seeing ahead for your people. Hard thing to teach,” said Matt. 


You can hear Matt’s full episode here, and learn more about the Altitude podcast here. 


Thank you for joining us on this journey with Matt Henry. For more insights from guests from Kyndryl, Mueller Water Products, CHS, Equinix, Microsoft, and more, check out our other episodes of Altitude here. We can’t wait to share more stories on Altitude that take your cloud expertise to new heights!