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AWS re:Invent: Cloud-based talent management strategies

November 28, 2022

On Monday, November 28, Pluralsight’s own Head Cloud Strategist, Drew Firment, took the stage at AWS re:Invent to share the three phases of building cloud based talent management strategy to close the skills gap on your cloud teams:

  • Invest in cloud literacy

  • Establish cloud fluency

  • Achieve critical mass

With only 8% of technologists saying they have extensive experience working with cloud-related tools, the success of your cloud initiatives depends on your ability to create new cloud talent. In his AWS re:Invent presentation, Drew walked through his journey and shared how he created a cloud talent solution that continues to drive innovation.

Invest in cloud literacy: Learn the language with certifications

You need cloud talent, not cloud translators

Photo credit: Forrest Brazeal

Cloud has a unique culture. And that culture comes with a language. Cloud literacy is the ability to speak that language and understand the big-picture solutions cloud computing brings to the table.

As more and more leaders (75% to be exact) default to cloud computing for new projects, your team needs a common understanding and vocabulary to discuss solutions to business problems. Without it, your development teams are disconnected from the rest of your organization. You can try to find translators, but the better move is to create organizational cloud literacy.

When everyone in your organization, even those in non-technical roles, understand the foundations of cloud computing, it’s easier to move from ideation to implementation. Sales can provide real-time, relevant feedback to development teams as they interact with customers. Project managers can better prioritize and run their project boards. HR understands the type of developer your organization needs to execute on cloud strategies. A basic understanding of cloud computing creates efficiencies across your organization that generates real returns.

According to an unpublished A Cloud Guru survey, 96% of learners feel more confident in the work they do because of course libraries like the ones Pluralsight Skills offers. Furthermore, 40% of those same learners identified improved team communication as one of the greatest benefits.

Start developing cloud talent with Tech Foundations

Offer employees an engaging, expert-authored learning program that helps every person, regardless of technical background, to build their technical knowledge

Do cloud certifications even matter anymore?

Absolutely. Cloud certifications are highly regarded within the industry and give learners a wide-lens view to understand the concepts and strategies behind cloud computing. They also help learners develop a vocabulary to discuss their cloud ideas and questions. They’re the backbone of a cloud based talent management strategy.

Cloud certifications enable technologists to enter the market and move up the ladder as companies like Apple, Google, IBM, and Netflix prioritize hands-on experience and certifications over a four-year degree. Cloud certifications can also provide the big-picture context developers need to communicate better with other teams about their projects. 

While at Capital One, Drew was originally a naysayer. He made his bones in the tech industry and knew how to develop cloud solutions, but when he went to take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification, he failed. Why? Because he knew the minute details of working in the cloud but not the theory.

Pluralsight offers ready-made certification prep courses

Pluralsight Skills and A Cloud Guru offer certification prep courses on all the most popular cloud certifications.

Establish cloud fluency: Apply the language with hands-on experience

Talking about the cloud is one thing. Building something is a whole other ball game. 

The only way to learn is to get in and build something. Use hands-on tools like labs and custom sandboxes to get comfortable navigating cloud computing tools. You wouldn’t be the first; 62% of technologists prefer hands-on or practical exercises. 

Sandboxes, in particular, are great for getting your feet wet. They give you access to a simulated, controlled environment that looks like the real thing. You can build solutions without risk to other organizational systems. Once you’re comfortable in the simulated environment, have some fun. Experiment and build something that makes your life easier—or just makes you laugh.

Use Alexa Skills to develop simple cloud solutions on your cloud talent journey

Photo credit: Forrest Brazeal

Cloud computing has untapped potential. Find ways to make hands-on learning fun. Build a website. Make it about your resume or your favorite TV- show. Or build an Amazon Alexa skill. Drew has more than 30 Alexa skills ranging from Harry Potter quizzes to daily quotes. The beauty of building your own cloud solution is the immediate feedback.

This hands-on experience is pivotal. It helps technologists connect the dots between business problems and the cloud solutions that drive organizational outcomes.

Achieve critical mass: Build learning communities at scale

In 2011, scientists discovered you need at least 10% of the population to hold an unshakeable belief for it to reach critical mass and be adopted by the majority of society. Any less, and it will always be considered a minority opinion.

The same goes for your organization. For an idea to reach critical mass, at least 10% of your employees must believe in the idea. Drew succeeded in reaching critical mass while building learning communities at Capital One. In fact, for a period of time, 2% of all AWS certified developers worked at Capital One. And it all started by teaching people to talk about the cloud. 

If it takes only 10% of an organization to reach critical mass, how many people do you really need to buy into your cloud culture? 

Once you teach people about cloud computing and give them a language to discuss it, they’ll default to cloud as the solution to your business problems—a move that leads to a massive acceleration of cloud migrations and increased innovation throughout your organization.