It’s common knowledge that there is an industry-wide struggle in hiring great DevOps Engineers. We pride ourselves on having some of the top experts in the industry, and this blog series aims to get to know some of our engineers and highlight how we create an environment to not only attract top talent but also how we retain them when there are so many opportunities in the market.

Luke is one of our consulting engineers and has been with us since the very early days of Automation Logic, starting just after graduation, before our academy even existed. He has now worked with a number of major clients during his 4 and a half years here and is currently on a project for one of the biggest banks in the UK.

Here is Luke’s take on his time here;

When I first started it was very much a case of learning by doing – I had none of the formal training that the grads get these days from the Automation Logic Academy. I was able to work on a number of projects in the early days, alongside some very experienced engineers, which gave me a really good foundation in the way AL’s early consulting projects worked and the technologies used. I worked on some projects as part of a team and also did my first lone project for a managed hosting company, which was a little daunting but ultimately great experience in working with clients. Since then I’ve transitioned from very traditional, on-prem infrastructure projects to the more open source and cloud-based projects that dominate AL’s portfolio today.

The large variety of projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on has meant that my work and skills have never felt stale. Some people are motivated by money alone but don’t care about culture and relationships, so move around frequently. Part of the reason I still enjoy working at AL is that they have a culture that attracts the best people and makes them want to stick around. I think the fact the company has grown organically without pressure from investors has played a part in that, alongside the fantastic attitudes of the founders.

When it comes to career progression…

Kris and Norm (Automation Logic’s co-founders) have always been willing to give people more responsibility – their hands-off but always supportive style is refreshing and enables people to grow and learn. I think if there was an area of the business, technology-wise, someone in the company wanted to understand better they would do everything they could to facilitate that and expand their skill set.

Work life balance… A topic I think most engineers, or anyone who has at least read ‘The Phoenix Project’, knows –  The role of an engineer can be unpredictable and if something goes wrong there can be all-hands-on-deck scenarios which require overtime and long hours, so I asked Luke how he’s found this over the last 4 years.

I’ve been quite lucky and avoided being too involved in any ‘crisis modes’ so far! I’ve worked a couple of Saturdays, but some of our projects have asked people to work overtime, which of course they usually do happily. AL hires people who want to get the job done, and done well, so if the client is panicking and wants all hands on deck you’ve always got an AL team helping out rather than leaving one person behind to fix everything. That said, if anyone didn’t want to or wasn’t able to do overtime, that would have been no problem whatsoever, and AL’s management stays acutely aware of people at risk of feeling burnt out or overstressed. AL would never pressure anyone to work overtime – that wouldn’t exactly help to keep employees happy! Likewise, if an engineer feels they’re not able to grow or learn any more on a particular project, they are always listened to and can nearly always move to a new project. I’ve always felt that the company is on our side.

Growth opportunities…

Now that Automation Logic’s range of projects is rapidly growing, the range of roles required has expanded beyond what I’d call the ‘standard’ engineer – people are able to specialise more, and there are more opportunities available for intermediate leadership. Kris recently said that AL would rather hire internally wherever possible, which is definitely true – why not build on employees’ loyalty and familiarity with AL’s methodology and culture? For me, over the last four years, I’ve enjoyed expanding my knowledge and experience, which I believe is the only way to become an effective all-rounder engineer – working on different projects, different technology, different environments. It’s all a learning experience, and it’s hard to have authority in a subject having just read about it. There’s always the promise that as the company grows you will grow with it, and more growth means more opportunities. I don’t yet know exactly where I want my career to go, but I know that AL is a great place to find out.

And finally, the thing that every AL employee really loves: Feed the founder. An AL perk loved by many. Anyone from the company can book a place of their choice for lunch or breakfast with one of our Co-Founders. A chance to talk about anything they want and AL picks up the tab!

By lucky coincidence, I had lunch with both Kris and Norm last week, which was great for my weekly lunch budget. They’re always willing to talk one to one about what AL is doing on a higher level, which is fantastic for keeping engineers ‘on the ground’ in touch with the company’s broader activities. They’re also very interested in our lives and how we’re getting on. Kris and Norm are such a large part of AL’s brilliant culture, and the way they set aside their time to chat with us individually helps to maintain the small company vibe despite our rapid growth.

At this point, we then started to discuss all the restaurants we’d been to/want to go to soon, so at the risk of making you hungry, I’ll stop here.

For more information on jobs at Automation Logic, visit our jobs page here. If there isn’t something that fits what you’re looking for, get in touch anyway. We’re always on the lookout for great people who will fit our culture.