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Accelerating AWS Adoption in Africa with Veliswa Boya
Episode Summary
Veliswa Boya is a twice-certified AWS Cloud Engineer and an AWS Community Hero who’s currently working as a cloud migration specialist at a financial services company headquartered in South Africa. She brings more than two decades worth of tech experience to the role, having served as a software developer at a number of different financial services companies over the years.

Join Corey and Veliswa as they discuss what being an AWS Community Hero means to Veliswa, what the process of becoming a Community Hero was like, why Veliswa thinks cloud adoption in Africa is on the rise, how being named a Community Hero has enabled Veliswa to meet all kinds of incredible people throughout Africa, what the emergence of the Cape Town region means for developers in Africa, why Veliswa feels more overwhelmed with AWS today than when she started learning it three years ago, Veliswa’s tips for getting familiar with AWS, and more.
Episode Show Notes and Transcript

About Veliswa Boya


Veliswa Boya is a 2x certified AWS Cloud Engineer currently working in financial services. She works with application teams on cloud migration strategies and cloud architecture designs. Veliswa has been in the IT industry for 20+ years, starting her career as a mainframe developer working on critical systems for car manufacturers, insurance companies, and banks.


Veliswa is a member of Indoni Developers, which is a platform for African women in coding/tech. She speaks at meetups and was one of the speakers at the inaugural AWS Community Day Cape Town in 2019. She especially enjoys speaking and connecting with those who are new to tech and specifically new to AWS.


Veliswa mentors young people who are looking to embark on AWS certification journeys, she shares her own experiences, gives guidance and support. Veliswa also likes to write about “what she’s learned so far on AWS” and publishes on her Medium blog.


For fun Veliswa enjoys the outdoors, she regularly goes hiking and loves road running.


Links Referenced:




Transcript


Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.



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Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by Catchpoint. Look, 80 percent of performance and availability issues don’t occur within your application code in your data center itself. It occurs well outside those boundaries, so it’s difficult to understand what’s actually happening. What Catchpoint does is makes it easier for enterprises to detect, identify, and of course, validate how reachable their application is, and of course, how happy their users are. It helps you get visibility into reachability, availability, performance, reliability, and of course, absorbency, because we’ll throw that one in, too. And it’s used by a bunch of interesting companies you may have heard of, like, you know, Google, Verizon, Oracle—but don’t hold that against them—and many more. To learn more, visit www.catchpoint.com, and tell them Corey sent you; wait for the wince.



Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I’m joined this week by the Veliswa Boya who, among other things, is a Community Hero based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Veliswa, welcome to the show.



Veliswa: Hi, Corey. Thank you so much for hosting me.



Corey: So, there's a lot we can dive into here, but let's start with the context of at the time that we're recording this, I'm planning to go out on parental leave in about a month. And I've as people are aware, presumably by this point—depending on ordering. Maybe this is the first, I don't have that figured out yet—I'm having people act as guest authors while I'm out so I can actually take time off to spend with my family. As a result, that means that effectively I’m giving the platform to people for a week and giving them a chance to tell their story, mostly because I don't want to actually write anything down. So, first, thank you for letting me spend some time actually focusing on things that, believe it or not—don't tell anyone—more important than cloud computing.



Veliswa: Sure. This is awesome. So, thank you for giving me the opportunity, as well.



Corey: Of course. There's several things you do: you work in financial services, but more interesting and relevant to what people here are generally listening to. You are a Community Hero for AWS. What does that entail, and how did you become such a thing?



Veliswa: So, I remember when I got this invitation to accept the nomination as Hero, I remember thinking how awesome it is that you go through an entire career—I've been in it for 20 years now, and that entire time feeling like you’re invisible, you never get recognition, no reward for anything that you do. And then this comes along, and it is at such a global stage. It means everything to me. And how I got it, is I like to share a lot with the AWS community. I started working with AWS about three years ago, and what I started doing is to share my learnings. 



I don't come from a strictly—your traditional tech background, so I've had to learn a lot of things. It's been a huge on-ramping for me, learning AWS. And as I learn things, I like to share. I like to share with those that maybe are in the same space as me starting out, trying to figure this out. As I learn things or share with them. 



I think that, kind of, got me the attention. I speak at meetups, and I'm always speaking as someone starting out:, “I’ve done it, you can do it as well, you should starting out.” I think that maybe got me the attention that got the recognition as an AWS Hero. And what's been so awesome is first woman out of Africa has to be named a Hero. It's so awesome, but of course, I don't want to be the only woman out of Africa forever that is an AWS Hero. I'm hoping to see more come on board as well.



Corey: Wouldn't that be a wonderful change? So, in my home office, I have a map above my desk. It has a bunch of pins in it. And people come in here and look at it and say, “Oh, is this a list of all the places you've been to?” And the answer is, “No, it's not. 



There's a pin in there for every AWS region that has been deployed and announced, and a different color pin for all of the CloudFront Edge locations.” And, I tell people, like, “Oh, that explains why in Virginia, there's a pin of a dumpster fire.” Like, “Yes, you get it now.” But I look at this map, and for a long time, it was—I look at Europe, and right now there are one, two, three, four, five, six regions that are there, and an additional one that has been announced in Spain, and there's a crap-ton of CloudFront edge locations right next to it as well. It looks like you can't walk a block without tripping over AWS infrastructure in Europe. 



And then I look at Africa. And it's one of those, “New phone: who's this?” Type of moments where, as of April of this year, there's in the reserve region in South Africa—Cape Town, specifically—and there are two cloud front edge locations that I see. One of them in Johannesburg and the other in Nairobi. And that's it. I look at this, and it’s—these two things are in no way alike. Why is it that, I guess, Africa has not been on the map in the world of cloud computing moreso?



Veliswa: I think it's getting there. I think it's getting there. I think it's adoption, and speed of adoption as well. But I think we'll get there. The community is growing quite aggressively, and are, sort of, vibrant. 



And all since becoming a Hero, on Slack we've got our AWS community in Africa workspace, and that's where we all meet people from all over Africa. And it's really filling up. And there's a lot of excitement around AWS adoption. But then again, there's always an issue around—because here we also—the struggle around job opportunities, as well. Is always the issue around, I go and I learn all of this AWS and then I sit on—well, I got a certification, but now I end up sitting on it because I'm not getting any jobs. 



So, I think the whole job opportunity still has to align, also, to the level of learning and on-ramping that people are doing. So, many people are learning and getting very excited, but they're also looking to get opportunities to use what they've also learned, and to make their lives better as well. But I think it’s getting there.



Corey: It absolutely is. I have one of my consulting clients with a strong presence in Nairobi, and that was, sort of, my introduction to a lot of, I guess, the cloud infrastructure stories here. And sure, I can see pins on a map and all and understand how that works in the abstract, but then talking to people about their actual experiences networking, as we go through the project and start having social conversations with people, it's a different world. I mean, I live in San Francisco, which is its own world, and then some. This is the land of people who believe that if their website doesn't work well on the latest Apple MacBook Pro on a gigabit connection plugged directly into the server, then you should upgrade your systems. 



Yeah, the rest of the world does not work that way, and there's a vast disconnect in many respects. And for me, one of the more frustrating pieces that I found is I didn't understand the idea of latency, where people need to be close to where the website is hosted so that it loads in a reasonable period of time. Because naively, I assumed, why does that actually matter? How impatient are you? If it's 300 milliseconds, between me and the server, okay, great. That's going to be less than a second, round trip. So, what's it matter how quickly the webpage loads? Because I still live in the 1998 style of thinking where a web page is a single static file. Yeah. Then I look at how most websites are built. And it's, “Oh, you have 300 requests, sequentially.”



Veliswa: Yeah.



Corey: And I'm looking at this and it's, oh, yeah, suddenly I understand why CDNs are a thing and why infrastructure matters.



Veliswa: Yeah, yeah. What's also been so awesome for me since becoming an—because I'm based in South Africa, and I think my world was kind of South Africa and interacting with people here. But then becoming a Hero, I started meeting all these people from throughout Africa. And I speak to people from Zimbabwe, from Kenya, from Nigeria, and the amount of innovation, the entrepreneurship that actually exists, always being ready to look for opportunities and ways to learn new things and make your lives better. I'm so in awe of everything that I'm learning since I’ve started interacting with everyone throughout all of Africa.



Corey: It's fascinating from a perspective of whenever I travel places, and I start experiencing, I guess, the internet from a different part of the world—which I know it sounds ridiculous. Like, it's one of those, “What the hell do you think travel is?” It’s, “You’re viewing it through how things work on, from the internet, what is wrong with you?” The honest answer in my case is that I travel a lot for work, and what really brought it home for me in a way that nothing else had before, was when I went to Australia a couple of years ago. I had never been before; I thought the place was a myth. 



Like, “Oh, I'm going to Australia.” “Great. Are you taking a connecting flight through Narnia?” No, it turns out it's a real place. People live there; who knew? And I wind up doing all the things I normally do: I spin up an EC2 instance in the Australia region, and I get a data plan for iPad, and I get there, and I get into this thing, and it is unusably slow. It is garbage internet, awful. And it's, “Wow, I knew that infrastructure in this part of the world was not necessarily great—people love to complain about Telstra—but how do people get any work done?” 



So, cut into the endpoint of the story of something that I didn't know at the time—if you're listening to this, you might learn from my side of it—it turns out, at least in the United States, when you buy an international data plan, it backhauls the data to the United States through whatever discount rate carrier they go with. So, I was sitting in Australia and tethering to data back in the United States, which then would reach back across to Australia to talk to the EC2 instance. And it’s, wow. Other than going the entire span of the globe from one side to the other. 



What's dumber than that? Doing it multiple times. So, it was, yeah, it turns out that bouncing back and forth across the Pacific Ocean a few times does add latency. And when I told versions of this story to people I know in Africa, they had similar stories, in many respects, where it's a lot of sites are just designed with this idea that all of our customers or target market are going to live in these particular locations that are right next to various AWS regions, so it'll be fine. My question for you is, how does that experience manifest? What is it like to live somewhere where the typical VC tech bro types don't consider? When they picture their customer, it’s very often not folks in Africa, it's folks in, oh, if they're really far away, they'll be 45 minutes away in San Jose, not in San Francisco itself.



Veliswa: So, I think for me, personally, and I think, actually, for a lot of people, how it actually really stood out was when we got the Cape Town region because up until then we were Ireland. And then Cape Town came up, so we could now spin up instances there, and at [unintelligible], we've got a region now, here. And the difference when you're uploading onto an S3 that's same region as where you are, I think that's when it actually stood out for us. The difference, the old latency, and appreciating all of that. That's when the huge excitement actually came in for a lot of us here. So, now people can't wait to spin up instances in Cape Town because it's right here, it's not in Ireland. But we were fine with Ireland because that's all we had at the time. But now we have Cape Town, and it's right here, and it's very exciting for a lot of people.



Corey: It is. What really always takes me aback is whenever there's a new region announced. I hear it, and—I mean, I see every announcement that comes out of AWS. Spoiler: never do that. But as I go through and weed through all of them, it’s, “Oh, another region announcement.” 



And my instinct is to treat it like I would a service expansion to a new region, namely, I don't particularly care. That is my immediate reaction, and I've learned to suppress it because when they announced a new region somewhere, particularly in places that are not overly saturated—this does not apply to, “Yay, we're launching an eighth region somewhere in Europe.” Yeah, yet no one actually cares about those. But when something comes to the Middle East, or something comes to Africa, or something comes to South America, there's such a groundswell of excitement of people in the community being enthusiastic about this. Sometimes, admittedly, it's people who are, I don't know, fortnight players who are super excited, “Yay, there's going to be a region close here so I get better latency when I'm playing games.” 



But they're also people with, shall we say, more serious business concerns, who are super excited about that. And I have to say, the South Africa region, back when it was announced in April of 2018, was met with a tremendous amount of excitement, just from what I could see on the internet. Was there a similar level of excitement in the community, when you were talking to folks about that, and the announcement came through.



Veliswa: There was such a lot hanging on this. There was so many businesses that wanted to migrate to AWS, but with some of the areas here, there was a lot hanging around, having the region here because of compliance and data cannot be outside of where you are, things like that, were actually governing everything. So, when we actually finally got a region here, there was so much excitement because finally, those businesses could start their migration journeys to AWS. I think just the community at large as well. All this excitement that we've got our own region here, it’s just so exciting. But for businesses, it was a huge thing for businesses because we were waiting on that for a lot of data privacy, and all of those issues, they kind of needed to have a region here. So, it’s a huge thing when it actually finally did land.



Corey: Azure was the first hyperscaling cloud provider to have a region presence in Africa, weren't they?



Veliswa: They were. They were here for a while before AWS actually got a region. Azure was here for a while, but you have those people that just wanted to go on to AWS, and so you had those few—well, not few, you have people trying Azure already, but you had those that wanted to migrate to AWS. And while migrations were happening, but having a region here was such a big thing for some.



Corey: Some regional expansions seem like they're focused on regulatory compliance. It's why there are so many regions in Europe, for example. Germany was always famous for this, and one of the reasons that they had the Frankfurt region spin up so early was that there were requirements for many German businesses that if you wanted to use Cloud, your data had to live within German borders. And a number of countries are enacting regulatory requirements like that. So, you see the typical regulated industries getting excited about that, but you also see folks getting much more genuinely excited when this is relatively underserviced market where you have no good latency options, and suddenly, now you do. 



One of the weird announced regions that is not generally available, at the time of this recording, has been the Jakarta region, where, on the one hand, yeah, great. There hasn't really been a lot super close to Indonesia. There are also regulatory requirements that increasingly require data to remain within the country—and people love to skip over this part—Indonesia has a quarter billion people; it's not exactly a small country. So, when Cape Town was announced, clearly there's a sense of, “Yes. Now there's finally something local that I can talk to,” But was it also aligned with a regulatory story? Or is that less of a concern in a lot of African businesses?



Veliswa: From AWS side, there probably was alignment, but definitely for businesses that were waiting on that for regulatory compliance alignment. I know banks, definitely huge, and some telcos as well—you know, telecommunications and all of those—big for them to have the data reside within the borders. So, it held back. So, what I used to find, especially in the financial services is that they would migrate applications that are not as critical, but you have those that are very critical, where there's huge customer data in them, those kind of, were hanging back waiting, and they were just migrating not very essential applications to AWS. So, it was a big thing that we get that region here. And then they could start, you know, in a big way, doing their migrations.



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Corey: One of the things that I find fascinating from an almost journalist style perspective, is when I look through the analytics for the announcements that I wind up including in the newsletter—to be very clear, I've built a custom analytics system on top of this: I don't see whether you personally have clicked any given link because to be perfectly honest with you, I could not possibly care less what you click in the newsletter. What I do care about is the aggregate. So, I learned that, cool, I don't care about IoT, but an awful lot of people do because a lot of people click links to articles about IoT, so I include it. I don't care about Windows and it turns out most of the readership doesn't either, so I don't spend a whole lot of time covering it. It helps inform the direction I go in when I talk about things. 



Something that I've never been able to get a real sense of when curating the newsletter about what to include and what not to has been the story about regional expansion of services. For me, it always felt like, eh, great. They've announced this service that, I don't know, talks to satellites in space. Good for it. Maybe it has customers, maybe it doesn’t, maybe I don't care, but okay, now we've expanded that ridiculous service to an additional region in another part of the world. I've always mostly discounted that on the theory that people who are really going to be using that service will probably be using it either where it exists, or have a regulatory reason. Is that the wrong direction to look at this? I mean, is there excitement in the community when a service expands to a region where it previously did not exist?



Veliswa: I think it depends on exactly that: people in that region, do they care? Do they care about that service? I know when Capetown launched, EKS, for example, was not available here. And when it was announced, I remember the excitement because a lot of people here in containers, actually using that service, it was a big thing. So, I think it depends on the service; do we actually care about that service day in that region? 



If we do care, then it's a huge thing when it actually does actually expand to that region. I think it always depends on the people there, are actually using it? Do they care much about it? So, it always depends on what actually gets announced. I think it definitely depends on the demand in that region.



Corey: What I don't understand, personally, is how the hell some of these regions launch without these services in place. And I'm sure I am inadvertently insulting some incredibly hardworking, incredibly talented people. But the South Africa region launched in April of 2020 and didn't get EKS until the beginning of August, four months later. Now, I know that the folks at AWS aren't sitting there going, “Huh. Maybe people might want to use Kubernetes. Oh, we never thought of that.” 



Of course, they're going to want Kubernetes. But it seems to me, naively, that getting the buildings built out, getting all the power and interconnectivity set up, is a massive, heavy lift. Getting all of the equipment stuffed in is probably more complicated than frigging re:Invent. But, “Oh, we should really just turn on this service and push that code out to somewhere else,” seems like a relatively trivial slash solve problem. Do you have any idea why that's not true?



Veliswa: I don't know. Okay, I think this is where it crosses over to speaking on behalf of AWS.



Corey: [laughs]. Oh yeah. Oh, again, AWS Community Heroes are not AWS employees, in many respects. I've asked people before under the auspices of various NDAs, and the answer I've always gotten has been, “Well, it's really hard.” Which I get. Believe me, I get. And I know that people can't tell me the real reason that things don't roll out.



Veliswa: [laughs]. Yeah.



Corey: From my naive fly-on-the-wall perspective of needling AWS on Twitter, it's one of those things that I just don't understand. And the one reason I would actually be seriously interested one day working at AWS is not for any of the reasons people think, but mostly so I could just see underneath the hood all the things that annoy me about the company, the things that, “Why on earth, are you doing it this way?” I am certain that for every one of them, it's going to be, “Oh, that's why. That makes a lot of sense.”



Veliswa: Yeah. I know, we actually—because I know where I work, the web services that we were actually waiting on to have in Cape Town. So, we constantly kept following up on those, and there’s a roadmap that, kind of, guides these services being launched. So, just like any service becoming available in any region, it kind of follows the same roadmap, I think, from what I understand. So, I think it was a roadmap, and just waiting for things to actually, you know, be in line for being launched in your region.



Corey: The more than I talk to AWS employees, the more sympathy I get for the challenges that they have because every time I've seen some ridiculously easy, trivial thing that, “Why don't you support this one very simple, very basic thing?” I have never yet had a scenario where I talk to the service team who builds the thing, and their response is, “Holy crap. We never thought of that.” It's always, “Yeah. We would like that, too. Here are the list of constraints that were—just the ones we're allowed to tell you—that are causing a problem for us deploying that.” 



And the response to the end of it is, “Holy crap. This is so complicated, how does anyone ever get anything done?” The answer, as it turns out, is they hire people who are way smarter and better than me at all of the stuff. But every time I start thinking, “Well, that sounds easy. Why don't they just do that?” It means that I haven't thought deeply enough about the problem, or there's a tremendous amount of context that I'm missing. And I have no doubt whatsoever that this is absolutely one of those issues.



Veliswa: Yeah, there's always a reason there that makes sense once you actually dig in, I think, yea, from what I've seen, as well.



Corey: So, you said you've been working with AWS yourself in the community for a number of years now. And you were recognized as an AWS Hero for doing that. What are you seeing as the community continues to grow, and expand, and evolve? I mean, when I got started with AWS for my first outing, it was 2009, give or take. 



And my response was, “Holy crap. This is so many services, I'm never going to be able to learn them all. This is overwhelming.” There were 12. There are now almost 200. I can't imagine getting started today. What are you seeing as far as people who are discovering Cloud, or new to the tech industry, or new to their own careers, as they wind up discovering what this somewhat ridiculous, borderline nuts world is?



Veliswa: I see people who are being incredibly overwhelmed. It's actually so weird because it was only three years ago that I started learning AWS, and I didn't feel as overwhelmed as I feel today. And people who are learning it today feel that very same level of being overwhelmed. It's also, “Where do I start?” But I think what I'm starting to see, which I think is quite awesome, as well, there’s starting to be this focus, like, people will go in and they'll say, “I just want to focus on machine learning. That's going to be my thing on AWS.” Or, “I just want to focus on serverless, that's going to be my thing on AWS.” 



I've met people who say they've just learned serverless, they don't even know how to spin up an EC2 instance. So, I think that also is kind of helping people with the adoption. If you just pick your area of interest, and you just go for that. I know people who are all about IoT, that's all they focus on; they don't really bother about anything else. And I think it helps them. 



But definitely, you can very easily feel overwhelmed; I know I do. I’ve gone for all three of the associate level certifications, and to learn opers now, when you're going to study for a certification, you have to, kind of, touch everything. You can’t say, “Oh, not going to worry about EC2s, I'm just going to focus on this.” You have to worry about everything. And it is such a huge amount of work, and resources to consult, and everything to go through just to prepare for those exams. So, actually, it's very overwhelming. But I think if you just pick your area of interest, and you zone in on that, I think that helps as well.



Corey: One thing that always amazes me is that whenever I talk to AWS employees who are incredibly deeply technical on a particular area, it feels like I'm going to school on some level of, “Wow, I know absolutely nothing about anything you just told me.” And, “Wow, I'm an idiot and a giant fraud because you people are way better than I am.” They’ll be talking about some deep internal aspect of AWS networking or something, and then it's like, “Huh. That's the end of it. So, thanks. I appreciate your help on that. Oh, by the way, I have a question for you about S3.?” “Huh. What's S3?” It's, “Oh, that's right. You people can be very deep on things, but it's harder to be broad in many respects, too.” We've long since passed the point where I can talk incredibly convincingly about AWS services that aren't real and not get called out on it by AWS employees because who in the world can hold all of this in their head?



Veliswa: [laughs]. Yeah, and it's actually amazing you say that because I joined all these webinars, especially now that we've been at home and I always walk away feeling like, “Oh my word, I'm not smart at all. All these people out there are so smart.” The level of detail with a thing that we may be discussing on that day. So, yeah, but I mean, there's such a lot to actually get through. And I think at some point, you just pick that one thing, and that just becomes your thing and you just focus on that. Unless you want to [unintelligible] a certification, of course, then yeah, then you have to worry about everything.



Corey: Yeah. There's absolutely so much to keep up with, and it doesn't get any easier. By the time that this episode sees the air, you'll have had the dubious joy of sitting through a week of curating the newsletter, drinking from the firehose of everything that gets released. There are 40 distinct RSS feeds, now, from AWS. There's no aggregation system that they provide, so I had to build one. 



And again, an awful lot of what they put out is not particularly relevant outside of a particular sector or market. So, it comes down to always being a question of what do I find personally interesting? There's no right or wrong answer about what gets included and what doesn't. But keeping up with all of those announcements really has forced me to understand exactly how many moving parts there are in something like this. I think it's impossible to curate a newsletter like this for any appreciable length of time, and not come away profoundly impressed by just the sheer scale of everything.



Veliswa: Yeah, for sure, for sure. And that's been another thing, you know, when I've mentioned on other platforms that I mentor people starting out, and it’s also the same response. It's, “Where do I even start?” There is so much coming out. I used to follow AWS This Week news every week. And at some point, that think I don't even follow regularly because the amount of speed that everything gets released and gets announced is quite a lot, and to try and keep up with everything is quite a thing. For sure.



Corey: I am extremely interested to see what winds up changing and how. It's going to be just an absolute mess—but a fun one—when we see how this continues to scale because at some point the pace of innovation, as they say, is only ever increasing. They're hiring more service teams, more product teams, they're shipping more than ever before, and at some point, no one's able to keep up with it all. The newsletter is a bit of a bulwark against the tide coming in, but the tide does come in, eventually. There has to be a change and I can't wait until one day they put me and my sarcasm completely out of business.



Veliswa: Yeah, let's see. Yeah, would be awesome. And I know I [unintelligible] as well. I'm like, “Wow, this is going to carry on for a while. Let's see.” But I think also because there's such a huge interest in new things coming out in technology update, it's almost like all these tech companies have to try and keep up with this huge demand because people want so much, and there is so much innovation that people are, kind of, waiting to do with all the services that come out. So, tech companies kind of have to try and—I think they also trying to fit this list, that is us actually wanting all these things.



Corey: There's no other way to frame it other than just it's absolutely massive. It's, again, I wanted to point out that Community Heroes are not paid by Amazon. These are people who are recognized for their contributions to larger community. Notably, I have never been invited to join the program because I am effectively the AWS community antihero--, but I'll take it. It's a tremendous honor and I think that whenever you see someone with a Hero title, one of the best responses is to listen to what they've got to say, I've almost never been disappointed by doing that.



Veliswa: Also because now you become a Hero, you join this community of other Heroes out there. And these are really impressive people out there. So, many of them, I was following on social media for a really long time. And then I get announced as a Hero, as well, along with them? That's crazy. And I'm on these calls with them, I’m like, “Is this really happening?” So, it's a huge honor to get to be part of it, for sure.



Corey: One of the things that continues to just absolutely blow my mind has been just the willingness of people to help others up. It's the idea of ‘send the elevator back down.’ It's incredibly encouraging to see. In that vein, what advice would you have for people who are new to this space on how to come up to speed, how to land a career that they enjoy and is lucrative for them? What guidance can you give the next generation?



Veliswa: Mm. Okay, let me go by what I did. And I'm not saying that what I did is what will work for everyone, but for me, I think just being open to learn things, just being open to that things are changing at such a fast pace, as well. Try—as much as you can to try and keep up. Just being open to learn, and being able to adapt to change around you, as well. 



But definitely, that willingness to learn will take you quite far. People never believe that I'm from a mainframe background, and here I am today: I'm a cloud engineer. It's just that I've always looked for opportunities to learn new things and see what can I learn is the next thing that will help me remain relevant because you know the world of tech changes all the time. So, just always being open to learn new things, and just see. Yeah, just follow the right conversations, and conversations that grow you as well. And there's so many communities, as well, that are just there and willing and open to helping and teaching. Just finding those and following them. It helps quite a lot.



Corey: Thank you. If people want to hear more about what you have to say, follow your exploits as you continue to talk about the larger AWS community, or reach out for guidance as far as what they're seeing and see what you would advise them to do if they see echoes of themselves in your story, where can they find you?



Veliswa: I am on Twitter, I am on LinkedIn, I'm very busy on LinkedIn. I've just joined the Dev.to community as well, that’s where I do my blogging. So, those are the main platforms that you’ll find me.



Corey: Excellent. And I will include links to all of those in the [show notes]. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. And again, thank you for letting me take some time off for the first actual vacation from the newsletter that I've had in the three years I've been writing it. Because, you know, a peaceful relaxing vacation involving a tiny newborn.



Veliswa: Yeah. Of course [laughs].



Corey: Yeah, great. That’ll be easy. I'm sure it'll just be like going on a vacation.



Veliswa: [unintelligible], for sure. [laughs]. This was fun. Thank you so much for inviting me. Thank you for hosting me. Thank you for the chat. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for it.



Corey: Thank you. Veliswa Boya, AWS Community Hero, and terrific mentor for folks who are looking to get into the space. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, whereas if you've hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts followed by a complaint after you've routed the complaint back and forth between Australia and wherever you happen to be, several times.



Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at ScreamingintheCloud.com, or wherever fine snark is sold.



This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.



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