Women at AWS – Diverse backgrounds make great solutions architects
For International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re featuring more than a week’s worth of posts that highlight female builders and leaders. We’re showcasing women in the industry who are building, creating, and, above all, inspiring, empowering, and encouraging everyone—especially women and girls—in tech.
Thinking about becoming a Solutions Architect, but not sure where to start? Wondering if your work experience and skills qualify you for the role? Let us help!
We’re Solutions Architects at Amazon Web Services (AWS). In this post, we’ll cover what Solutions Architects do, what got us interested in being Solutions Architects, and what skills and resources you might need to be successful in the role.
We also share our different career backgrounds and how we ended up pursuing careers as Solutions Architects. Let our experiences be your guide.
What do Solutions Architects do?
We work with enterprise customers from various industries and bring our unique technical and business knowledge to provide technical solutions that use AWS services.
Being a Solutions Architect is a combination of technical and sales roles; the technical aspect is 60-70% and the sales aspect is 30-40%.
As Solutions Architects, we provide technical guidance to customers on how they can achieve business outcomes by using cloud technology. The role requires strong business acumen to understand each stakeholder’s motivation, as well as technical skills to provide guidance.
What we’re working on right now
Despite having the same job title, we all work with different technologies across different industries.
Jigna works with Digital Native Business customers (cloud native/customers who started in the cloud). She helps them apply best practices for AWS services and guides them in implementing complex workloads on AWS. You can see some of her recent work in action here:
- How to build a persona-centric data platform on AWS for analytics and machine learning with a seven-layered approach
- Scripting Aurora failover tasks for multi-Region applications using Amazon Aurora database
- Reference architecture on building operational analytics on AWS modern data architecture
Jennifer works with enterprise customers to understand their business requirements and provide technical solutions that align with their objectives. See what she’s co-written recently:
- Automate Amazon OpenSearch Service synonym file updates
- Practical Entity Resolution on AWS to Reconcile Data in the Real World
Cheryl works with AWS enterprise customers. Her core area of focus is serverless technologies. Lately, she has presented in AWS She Builds Tech Skills and has co-authored multiple blogs:
- AWS She Builds Tech Skills – Episode 5 – Building Event Driven Architectures
- Using AWS Serverless to Power Event Management Applications
- Implementing Multi-Region Disaster Recovery Using Event-Driven Architecture
Sanjukta works with Greenfield customers (enterprises in early stages of AWS adoption) and helps them accelerate initial workloads and lays the foundations to help them scale their AWS usage to innovate and modernize their applications. She collaborates with AWS internal teams for:
- Adoption of AWS Solutions for US Northeast customers
- Contributing towards mainframe-focused opportunities for Greenfield customers
What got you interested in this role?
We all started in different roles and had limited exposure to cloud technologies, but we all had one thing in common. We were curious and wanted to learn. Being in this career means that you’re continuously learning and researching about current and emerging technologies.
As we progressed in our careers, we expanded our technical knowledge and skills. Most of us had technical depth in a few areas, such as development or architecture.
We all continued on various career paths and earned in-job training or acquired external certifications that led us to explore Solutions Architecture.
As enterprises adopted cloud technologies, we knew that our ability to adapt to the changing technical landscape along with our industry experience would enable us to better assist customers with their needs to provide the best technical solutions.
How did we get here?
We have prior experience working on analytics, application development, infrastructure, and legacy technologies across financial services, healthcare, retail, and gaming industries. We use this expertise to help AWS customers with similar needs.
We now use this expertise to help AWS customers with similar needs. Strengthening your individual experience will help you become a Solutions Architect.
Jigna has a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology. She has held multiple roles ranging from software engineer, cloud engineer, to technical team lead. She has worked with several enterprise customers on their requirements, technical designs, and implementation.
Driven by her passion for helping clients in their business and technology endeavors, she decided to become a Solutions Architect.
Jennifer has a BS in Information Systems. She worked in the financial services industry, where she held various architecture and implementation roles.
She became a Solutions Architect because she was interested in working with a wide range of technical services to provide complete solutions for business applications.
Cheryl has a BS in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics and a Post BS Diploma in Computer Science. She has led several complex, highly robust and massively scalable software solutions for large-scale enterprise applications. She has worked as a software engineer and in several other roles in IT.
She became a Solutions Architect because she wanted to use her technical and communication skills to partner successfully with her business counterparts to meet their objectives.
Sanjukta has a BS in Computer Application and an MS in Software Engineering. She has worked on and led several mainframe projects for financial and healthcare enterprises.
As companies retired their legacy applications, she pursued external trainings and certifications to learn Solutions Architecture to help customers in their migration journey.
What skills do I need?
There is no one set of skills that fits all when it comes to being a Solutions Architect.
You do not need to meet all these requirements right now, but they are good skills to develop over time:
- Technical Knowledge: Good knowledge of how different technical components work together is beneficial. This includes networking, database, storage, analytics, etc.
- Communication: Even though this is a soft skill, learning and practicing how to communicate clearly and confidently will enable you to be successful in customer engagements.
- Domain Knowledge: Developing a command over a few domains like retail, financial services, healthcare, etc., is useful, but you don’t need an in-depth knowledge about all domains, industries, or technologies.
- Architecture Design: System architecture defines its major components, their relationships, and how they interact with each other.
- Resourcefulness: Be curious. Wanting to learn new things is an absolute necessity when you want to be a SA. You may not know all the answers, but being willing and able to find the answers and solve problems is what sets you apart and helps you excel in this field.
Can you give me some resources to get started?
There were various resources we used to develop our skills at AWS:
- AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials is a good starting point.
- AWS Skill Builder offers online courses and classroom training to learn new topics and sharpen our skills.
- AWS Certifications will help you reinforce knowledge.
Role models and mentors helped us gravitate toward this role. Our colleagues and managers inspired us to broaden our horizons and look beyond our current roles. We encourage you to do the same.
No matter where you’ve started in your career, your talent and experience can be an asset to customers.
Ready to get started?
Interested in applying for a Solutions Architecture role?
We’ve got more content for International Women’s Day!
For more than a week we’re sharing content created by women. Check it out!
- Celebrate International Women’s Day all week with the Architecture Blog
- Deploying service-mesh-based architectures using AWS App Mesh and Amazon ECS from Kesha Williams, an AWS Hero and award-winning software engineer.
- A collection of several blog posts written and co-authored by women
- Curated content from the Let’s Architect! team and a live Twitter chat
- Extend SQL Server DR using log shipping for SQL Server FCI with Amazon FSx for Windows configuration
- Building your brand as a Solutions Architect
- Mainframe offloading and modernization: Using mainframe data to build cloud native services with AWS
- Message to the next generation of women disruptors in technology
- Migrating petabytes of data from on-premises file systems to Amazon FSx for Lustre