Following our previous article, 5 things you didn't know about our cloud services Black Belt team, we thought we'd do a deeper dive into the career journey of one of our talented colleagues on this global team.
Charlotte joined the Managed OpenShift Black Belt team in April 2022. She is based in Edmonton, Canada, and primarily works remotely from her home.
"We like to think of Black Belts as a perfect hybrid between a sales specialist and a specialist solution architect," explains Charlotte. This team’s primary mission is to streamline the adoption of Managed OpenShift, making it the preferred platform for application deployment. "We manage the platform for the customer so they can focus on their core business, and develop and release new apps so that customers can enjoy them."
Pivoting into a technology career
A career in tech wasn't the first thing on Charlotte's mind earlier in her career. "I have had quite an interesting career journey between entering the workforce and joining Red Hat," smiles Charlotte. "I don’t have what you'd call a 'traditional' tech background."
Charlotte initially studied biochemistry at college, and intended to continue into doctorate research. But during her master's degree, she realized that she wasn't as enthusiastic about pursuing her PhD as she'd originally thought. After completing her master’s degree, Charlotte decided to pivot into nursing, enrolling in a two-year accelerated program that took her previous university education into account.
Charlotte went on to work as a registered nurse for a while - but she still didn't feel that she'd discovered what she wanted to do and found the shift work challenging. "That’s when I met a friend who had also been a nurse, but had since made the transition to IT."
Charlotte decided to follow suit. She took a six-month AWS Cloud Computing bootcamp course, and continued to self-study afterwards using resources like YouTube, Udemy, Cantrill.io and Exampro.co. "On-the-job training has also been instrumental in helping me continually improve on my IT skills. Having a mentor to help me navigate this new field was equally helpful. My friend served as my primary mentor, and I also sought out new mentor(s) for each job I had. One thing I quickly realized is to stay current in the IT field, you have to be willing to be a lifelong learner."
"It's been one of the most challenging yet most rewarding transitions I've ever faced."
Charlotte ended up getting a job as a cloud support engineer, and, over the next few years, worked across solution architecture and cloud infrastructure engineering, too.
A red hat and a black belt
Then, in 2022, she was approached by a member of Red Hat's talent acquisition team. Charlotte had heard of Red Hat's products, but didn't know much about what Red Hat was like as an employer. "I did my research, and read up on Red Hat's values and culture. Everyone I interacted with during the interview process was awesome and made me feel at home."
"I've been in Red Hat for over a year now, and it has been a tremendous change, professionally and personally. I've continued to grow in the short time that I have been here."
According to Charlotte one of the great things about the Black Belt team is that they come from diverse backgrounds. There are team members with a background in software development, solution architecture, cloud engineering and more. The team comes together with a range of different perspectives and is able to complement each other's strengths and expertise.
"You don't have to know everything, which is the great thing about being Black Belt. As a group, we have a really good team spirit. We work in close collaboration, both within our team and with other teams in Red Hat. Our common goal is to enable our customers and see each other succeed as well."
Trust and flexibility as a working parent
The team is able to benefit from the flexibility to plan how their days will look around customer meetings and make time for further learning. "I know with freedom comes accountability, and we all hold ourselves accountable to each other and to our customers."
This flexibility is particularly important as a working parent, says Charlotte. "My youngest is in kindergarten. I'm able to welcome her back when she comes from school, and I'm able to do the things that I like to do. Sometimes I get a workout in because I like to stay fit. Sometimes I'm able to do a quick meal prep in between."
So, amongst this flexible schedule, what might a Black Belt find themselves doing on a typical day? Well, a large part of the Black Belt's job is to share specialist knowledge and best practices around Managed OpenShift adoption, and they do this via a number of channels and forums - whether that's technical presentations, workshops, demos or business value conversations.
"We try to be proactive. If we see common patterns that repeat themselves, common struggles that customers face, we document those so that new and future customers are able to bypass those challenges and enjoy the process of using a managed service. We're also able to feed these back to the product team to help them evolve the product," explains Charlotte.
Moments to be proud of
So, what are some of Charlotte's proudest moments on the team so far? In short, the proud and the challenging moments go hand-in-hand, with the things that have pushed Charlotte out of her comfort zone have ended up being the most rewarding.
She elaborates, "In the past, I would get really nervous just speaking in public or doing anything where all the attention was focused on me. But I've been encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and to grow."
Customer conversations are one of the things Charlotte is really passionate about, as she views them as an opportunity to understand the customer's challenges and confidently help address them using Red Hat's tech stack.
"I have so many moments that I'm really proud of, but the one I'm the most proud of would be the lightboard sessions we created with our partner, AWS, in Seattle. Doing this cool stuff is like a dream come true. But the moment that made me the proudest was when my kids saw the YouTube video and asked, "Mommy, you're on YouTube, are you becoming famous?"
Embracing courage as a career changer
Charlotte's journey highlights the importance of adaptability, self-accountability, and most crucially, the courage to step outside one's comfort zone. To aspiring candidates hesitant to pivot into a technical role due to apprehensions of not "knowing it all," Charlotte's message is clear: it's less about knowing everything and more about the willingness to learn and evolve.
"We will set you up for success. We'll give you the unique tools you need to learn and to grow. So if you are technically skilled and like helping customers, I highly encourage you to come join us and to enjoy the process, even when it's uncomfortable."
Interested in learning more about our Technical Sales team? Check out our open roles here.
About the authors
Holly is a Program Manager on Red Hat's Talent Attraction & Experience (TA&E) team, where she is responsible for building and promoting the company's talent brand across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. With past experience in employer branding and digital marketing spanning several industries, including professional services, hospitality and now tech, Holly develops and executes creative campaigns that showcase Red Hat as an employer of choice. Holly and the TA&E team are also passionate about amplifying the voices of Red Hat’s talented associates, helping to highlight the unique culture and opportunities that Red Hat offers.
Charlotte is a Manage OpenShift Black Belt focusing on Red Hat Managed OpenShift offerings on AWS, Microsoft Azure and other public clouds. Charlotte has several years of IT experience helping customers build resilient, highly-available and cost-optimized solutions in the cloud. In her current role, Charlotte is focused on removing organizational, technical and competitive blockers of customer’s adoption of Managed OpenShift as a preferred platform for application workload deployments. Charlotte enjoys providing business value as well as having technical deep dive conversations with customers.