IT Pro Live Q&A: Jon Topper, CEO of The Scale Factory

One of our expert IT Pro Live speakers gives us a look inside his daily work and the future of tech

The IT Pro Live event runs June 22-26 and is chock-full with speakers from all areas of tech, including CEOs of large tech firms to IT Directors of prestigious universities and everything in between. Recently, we did a quick Q&A session with Jon Topper, CEO of The Scale Factory, in preparation for his participation in the IT Pro Live event.

Topper’s worked on infrastructure problems for Fortune 500 companies and startups across a range of market sectors. At The Scale Factory, he leads a team of cloud infrastructure and DevOps experts based in London, U.K.

Without further ado, here’s the insight Topper gave us about his company, his role, the IT sector and much more.

What does The Scale Factory do?

“We help businesses achieve more on the AWS cloud, through a combination of consultancy, engineering, and support.”

What’s your area of expertise?

“AWS and DevOps.”

Can you describe the focus of your role in just three words?

“Building a team.”

What does an average day in your working life look like?

“Typically, I’ll start the day by catching up on what’s going on in the world on Twitter – for better or worse, that’s where most of my tech news comes from. Then I’ll catch up on email and Slack before checking my to-do list for the day.

I try to arrange my calendar so that I have some days which are mostly uninterrupted focus time, and others which involve more interaction with others, whether that’s colleagues or customers.”

Why are you looking forward to IT Pro Live?

I’m looking forward to hearing from a broad number of voices – many of whom will be talking about business perspectives rather than just technology considerations. The tech means nothing without a business context.

What can attendees expect from your IT Pro Live session?

“We have a fairly unique perspective: We’ve had the opportunity to review over 200 infrastructure platforms, and we’ve learned what sorts of things teams often overlook or struggle with. Most attendees will come away with a list of things they probably need to consider in their own practice.”

What IT Pro Live sessions are you most looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to seeing Jeff and Squirrel talk about agile conversations. I’ve known both for a while and had the opportunity to preview their excellent new book, but I’ve never seen them present.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your work now and moving forward?

“We've been remote-first since we founded the business over 11 years ago, so we were already pretty well-prepared for this new fully remote way of working, though we run regular co-working days where we get together in person, and I think we're all missing that social time. Some of our sales conversations slowed a little whilst everyone rushed to adapt, but things picked up again soon after. All in all, we've been pretty lucky."

What gets you excited about IT?

"I love seeing technology evolve, and I get excited when something surprises me with how elegantly and seamlessly it solves a real problem. The most recent example of that is the AR app that Ubiquiti has built: You point it at your network switches, and it overlays information about port status and what's connected. It's so simple, but it looks so magical too."

What do you think has been the most significant innovation to affect your industry in the last five years?

"I guess I'd have to say Kubernetes. It's literally everywhere – though the jury is still out on whether it should be."

What do you see as the next big innovation in your field?

"Honestly, if I knew that, I'd be building it! As you'll learn from my presentation, teams are still generally pretty bad at operations and planning for things going wrong. I think there's room for innovation in that space because it's unexciting work that most people don't want to do."

What are some of your IT goals through 2020 and into 2021?

"Since we locked down, I've been running webinars instead of in-person events. Honestly, they're kinda soul destroying. My goal is to find a way to provide a more engaging and entertaining webinar-like experience."

If you could offer a college student with IT aspirations one piece of advice, what would it be?

"You may be interested in an IT career, but IT doesn't exist in a vacuum. If you can find a way to understand and care about the outcomes a business is trying to achieve and point your technology in that direction, you'll get way further, way quicker than you will just by becoming a technology expert."

Catch Jon's IT Pro Live keynote session, 'Avoiding common cloud mistakes', on Tuesday 23 June at 1.30 PM BST (8.30 AM EDT). Register for your free ticket now.

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