Diana Todea: Lifelong learner with a philosophy of flexibility
March is Women’s History Month, a time when AWS celebrates stories of women in the cloud. Though women remain underrepresented in cloud roles, the demographics are clearly shifting. Here at AWS we are doing everything we can to accelerate this process. Whether you’re a woman considering a career in the cloud or a tech industry veteran, we hope the tips and resources published in our blog will help you understand how AWS Training and Certification can help elevate and pivot your career. Today we are publishing the story of Diana Todea, Site Reliability Engineer for Cloud Observability at Elastic. Diana used AWS Certifications to move her career forward quickly to become competitive in the cloud and grow in her overall understanding of technology and her role within it.
In 2010, when Diana Todea took her first job in IT, she did not have a degree in computer science or technology. Diana earned an MPhil in Political Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh on a scholarship from her home country of Romania. However, the terms of her scholarship required Diana to return to Romania to work after graduating. On arriving home, she discovered there weren’t a lot of openings for political philosophers.
Job opportunities in IT, on the other hand, were exploding. This was in the early days of the tech outsourcing boom, and companies from across the world were turning to Eastern Europe as a source of educated and motivated workers.
Diana’s strong English skills and ability to quickly learn complex topics made her a natural for tech support. She found a job with a telecom company, where her desire to learn propelled her rapid advancement within the company.
A restless learner
This same desire, however, also led her to maximize her on-the-job knowledge. Every few years she took on a new technical role to continue growing her understanding of technology. By the mid-2010s she began to notice a lot of her clients talking about one technology in particular: the AWS Cloud.
“In IT you’re constantly having conversations with people. And you start to recognize trends. It suddenly seemed like every technology company that mattered was moving to AWS. If I wanted a career in technology, it seemed like it was time for me to migrate there as well,” she remarks.
In 2020, a cloud engineer position opened up within the company where she worked, and she landed it. Diana’s experience supporting cloud users and her ability to learn on the job helped her attain this role. But she knew that to gain credibility and confidence in this new role she would need to acquire formal knowledge of cloud technology. The best way to achieve that goal seemed clear: AWS Certifications.
“I needed to learn about all the aspects of AWS and how it works,” she says. “But I also knew that as I went forward in my career, it would be critical that I could quickly demonstrate what I knew.”
She started with the foundational certification AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. After supplementing her existing IT knowledge with a combination of official AWS documentation and online courses provided by AWS Training Partner Udemy, she passed her first certification exam just two months later, all while preparing for the arrival of her first child.
“The courses and documentation were invaluable. It was great to be able to work on my own schedule, and incredibly useful to be able to take practice exams that have the same time frame as the actual test,” she says.
An ongoing journey
Diana also knew that to really become competitive in the field, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner would only be the start of her journey. She almost immediately began preparing to take the exam for AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate, a significantly more complex certification that comes with a very different kind of test.
“The material itself is more challenging and the test is harder,” she says. “But the tasks on the test are also more satisfying because they are so practical. Almost everything you’re asked to do is hands-on problem solving. It’s about demonstrating that you know how to think creatively and be productive within the problem space, rather than rote learning.”
To prepare, Diana made extensive use of AWS Skill Builder, an online learning center with digital courses designed to provide everything from foundational knowledge to deep technical training for AWS services and solutions, as well as guidance around what it takes to pass the certification exams.
Diana was taking care of a young child while pregnant with her second, making the flexibility of remote learning even more helpful. Despite working around her childcare schedule and completing the demands of her day job, Diana was able to pass the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam after seven months of study.
“I was very proud of what I achieved,” she says. “But I also knew this was the kind of training I needed to become more valuable to clients, and move up within my organization.”
Indeed, her certifications and cloud experience meant she was a hot commodity in the job market. In 2021 she landed a job with Elastic, an AWS ISV Partner that helps its customers find information, gain insights, and protect data when running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Diana now works in Elastic’s Cloud Observability department where she helps clients understand and improve their AWS implementations using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Billing Console, and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).
“I help a lot of our clients to declutter old instances and better scale more complex infrastructures,” she says. But, as you might guess, she’s nowhere near done learning. “Elastic has a growth culture that encourages all employees to continually improve their skills. It’s an ideal fit for someone like me who never wants to stop learning.”
The next milestone she has her eye on is the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional credential, which means a jump to both the developer domain (making software as opposed to managing systems), as well as a significant leap in difficulty. With two successful certification exams already under her belt, however, she is confident she knows how to acquire the skills she needs to get certified. “Amazingly enough, my training as a philosopher really came in handy,” she says. “They operate on similar principles. You have to take in a lot of knowledge, but the real work comes when you have to turn around and creatively apply that knowledge to real-world situations.”