Welcome to a new Spotlight on Essenters! Today we will have a chat with Karol Muciek, a Senior Cloud Architect at Essent.
HI KAROL, COULD YOU TELL THE READERS A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I'm Karol Muciek, a Senior Cloud Architect with a passion for transforming complex technological and business challenges into innovative solutions. Born in Poland, I've lived in the UK and now call The Netherlands my home. Outside of work, I love cycling through the scenic routes of Amsterdam, padel playing and traveling the world.
CAN YOU BRIEFLY SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN IT?
My journey into IT began in my teenage years, sparked by an intense fascination with the rapidly evolving world of mobile apps. As a student at Kingston University, where I earned my BSc (Hons) in Mobile Computing, I combined my academic pursuits with my love for nightlife – and a bit of practical problem-solving.
Here's a fun fact: I really disliked standing in long queues at clubs, watching the night tick away. To tackle this, I developed a mobile app for my final year project that allowed club-goers to order drinks right from the dance floor. The orders were sent to a system used by the bar, and when the drinks were ready, users were notified to pick them up. This early innovation was my attempt to blend technology with everyday convenience. I even pitched this app to a few pubs, but back then, most thought there was no substitute for the human contact at the bar – oh, how times have changed!
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC INFLUENCES OR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACTED YOUR CAREER PATH?
Throughout my career, several individuals have profoundly impacted my professional growth.
At Vodafone Group, my ex-manager Theo significantly influenced my approach.
He is someone who never settles for a subpar solution and taught me the importance of thinking outside the box and continuously innovating for the business.
Another key figure is Andrew, my former manager at AWS. He is known for his unlimited enthusiasm and belief in others. Andrew provided me with endless opportunities for improvement, taught me valuable leadership skills, and instilled in me the belief that work should not only be productive but also enjoyable.
My early experiences, from nightclub queues to complex IT environments, have shaped my approach to technology – always looking for innovative, practical solutions that push the boundaries of what's possible.
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK AT ESSENT?
Seeking proximity to Poland, my wife and I decided to move from the UK. This led me to Essent in the Netherlands, a company whose dedication to renewable energy and clear innovative cloud native strategy deeply resonated with me.
Their forward-thinking approach and my interest in the vibrant culture of The Netherlands made joining Essent a natural and exciting choice. Here, I found an opportunity to merge my professional expertise with meaningful environmental innovation.
WHAT EXCITED YOU THE MOST ABOUT JOINING THE COMPANY?
Upon joining Essent, my initial impressions were overwhelmingly positive. The company's dedication to Accelerate our Future (becoming a tech company) and the energetic spirit that I felt in the workplace resonated with my professional aspirations and personal values. It was clear that Essent was not just a workplace but a hub for future-focused, impactful work, making it an exciting new chapter in my career.
COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT ROLE AND YOUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES?
In my role as a Senior Cloud Architect at Essent, I'm an integral part of a DevOps team, with a focus on coding using CDK Typescript, Python and Terraform.
My primary objective involves supporting the various teams’ cloud needs. I’m also involved in developing and refining the reference architecture, a critical step towards Essent’s strategic goal of becoming fully cloud native.
Leveraging AWS's assets, I've deployed customized Cloud Insights dashboards. These tools not only provide valuable data but also empower teams within Essent to track, optimize, and take ownership of their cloud spending. This initiative has been pivotal in promoting cost-effective and sustainable cloud practices.
Recognizing that while Essent aspires to be fully cloud-native, there still exists a reliance on standard infrastructure like EC2s or RDS. To help optimize these, I devised a serverless solution for developers to control their environments via simple Slack commands, significantly reducing our C02 by stopping all non-production environments at the end of a workday. Simple, but for our cloud budget, extremely powerful. Teamed up with two awesome Essent builders, we launched this solution in the beginning of the year.
HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE THE INTERNAL CULTURE OF YOUR TEAM?
At Essent, our team dynamic is really about supporting each other and eagerly tackling new challenges. It's a culture where collaboration and innovation are key, and we prefer to develop well-thought-out, automated solutions rather than quick, manual fixes. This approach ensures efficiency in the long run. We have a great environment for teamwork, where everyone is encouraged to openly discuss and brainstorm ideas and architectures. It's this collaborative spirit that not only makes our work better but also shows our commitment to continually enhancing our cloud skills.
Adding to this dynamic, we also infuse elements of fun into our work. This was evident during a recent event we self-organized. In collaboration with my colleagues in the cloud team and AWS people, we explored the exciting potential of Generative AI. This event, focused on testing patterns with RAG (Retrieval-Augmented Generation) using Amazon Bedrock, was not just about advancing in the realm of AI and cloud technology. We made it an engaging and enjoyable experience by incorporating a DJ and a race simulator. This blend of serious technological exploration with light-hearted enjoyment exemplifies our approach at Essent – always pushing forward in technology while maintaining an enjoyable and collaborative work environment.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR ROLE EVOLVING IN THE FUTURE?
Looking ahead, I envision my role at Essent evolving significantly, especially as we advance in our technological capabilities. A primary focus for me will be to reduce the effort it takes to manage some of our older systems. This effort aligns with my broader goal of driving automation and operational excellence to a point where my current role becomes redundant in its traditional form. It's a somewhat paradoxical aim, but one that underscores the progressive nature of our field.
With the time and resources freed up by these advancements, I see my role pivoting to address emerging needs such as strategising for sustainable technology practices, thought leadership within the cloud domain, and developing robust processes for training and nurturing junior talent. By focusing on these areas, I aim to contribute to a future where our team not only excels in technology but also in fostering the next generation of cloud professionals.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE ASPIRING TO WORK IN YOUR FIELD OR IN A ROLE SIMILAR TO YOURS?
Reflecting on my journey and looking ahead, I'd like to share a bit of friendly advice for those aiming to carve out a career in cloud technology.
‘Willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time’ - this is great quote from Jeff Bezos. When you're working in tech, especially with cloud computing, you'll have lots of great ideas. It takes time to get these ideas ready and to convince others to jump on board. If it doesn't work out at first, don't sweat it. Sometimes the timing isn't right – it could be too soon, too risky, or maybe the idea needs a bit more work. Just keep at it, tweak your ideas, and stay patient. What doesn't click today might be the next big thing tomorrow.
Experimentation - Keep in mind that innovation isn't always about complexity. Even simple solutions that meet real business needs can have a big impact. It's about practicality and effectiveness.
Public Speaking - In tech, it's not all coding and designing; conveying your ideas is crucial too. Public speaking can be daunting, but with early preparation and practice (start in front of a mirror and then with someone for feedback), it becomes an invaluable skill for sharing your vision and building a personal brand.
Sustainability Focus: Currently, it's crucial to concentrate on building solutions that are not only efficient but also environmentally sustainable. We're in this together, and as you focus on sustainability, you'll find a lot of allies who share this commitment and will help develop your great ideas.
We would like to thank Karol for the time he took to speak with us, and the insights he shares.
If you have any lingering questions for him, don’t hesitate to drop a comment down below. We will ensure you are promptly connected.