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From the Air Force to the cloud: Carwyn Hughes' story

August 15, 2022

Over the course of his 11-year IT career, Carwyn Hughes hasn’t stopped progressing. He’s completely transformed his cloud skillset, worked his way up to a Solutions Architect role at CGI, and achieved his personal goal of becoming an architect by 30 years old. 

But his path hasn’t been an easy one. On the contrary, he’s been through his fair share of adversity. Through it all, though, he’s pursued talent mobility and financial growth through upskilling. A Cloud Guru and Pluralsight Skills continue to provide Carwyn the engaging hands-on learning experiences he needs to boost his tech career.


Building skills for financial security

Carwyn’s journey started 12 years ago, when he joined the Royal Air Force in his native Wales as a Tactical Comms Specialist. The Air Force led him to Afghanistan, Cyprus, Estonia, Malta, and other places around the world, where he was responsible for installing and managing networks and satellite equipment in high-pressure environments.

"I found that I needed to wrap my head around the concepts, and I was lucky in that my job forced me to practice on them,” he explains. “I realize that these intense experiences only cemented my desire to do more self-taught learning and wrap my head around the cloud. At first I felt like I didn't understand a lot of it, but I kept going because, with twins on the way, the pressure was that much more intense for me to learn as much as I could." As he continued to serve in the Air Force, it became clear: Carwyn wanted to transform his skills even further and work in a cloud-based role.

He started at CGI as a second support engineer for two-and-a-half years, eventually working his way up to a tech team lead role. From there, he worked for a CGI competitor as an infrastructure engineer, with project delivery and management responsibilities as well. Right before COVID hit, he was due to start in a government role. Like so many other openings at the time, it fell through, leaving Carwyn scrambling to adapt.

Carwyn Hughes

In addition to the pandemic, having children brought a massive change in Carwyn’s perspective. Providing for them was a huge motivation to build his skills. He felt he had to keep moving forward. That meant transforming his career by boosting his cloud skillset. But it took some trial and error for Carwyn to find the right resource for cloud learning. "My nearest in class training center was two hours away and most of these courses take 4-5 days to complete,” he explains. “If I wanted to go to an instructor-led course, I'd have to be away all week. This would not only cost me a couple hundred pounds in hotel fees, and I'd have to be away from my family for a week. Something like ACG/PS allows me to learn at my own pace, wherever I want to do it and whatever device I want to do it."

He looked into online learning options as well. "As I wanted to get as many certifications as I could, I was on LinkedIn and came across ACG, which was recommended by several colleagues,” he recalls. “I decided to give it a try, and it's a really great platform. I also had LinkedIn Learning, but found it to be quite boring and quite monotone in the way they deliver their content." Carwyn started LinkedIn’s cloud practitioner learning track only to lose interest. He needed something new, a better way to boost his cloud skills…


Better upskilling with Pluralsight

One day, a coworker started raving to Carwyn about an exciting platform for cloud learning: A Cloud Guru. Right away, he noticed a difference. The course authors were all clearly engaged with what they were teaching, and all the information was consolidated and well-organized. But for Carwyn, the most crucial difference was the opportunity for hands-on learning: "Having a sandbox is great, but having real-world practice is most helpful to advance learning for me. You can always find literature on the topics, but applying your knowledge in labs has proven to be invaluable."

One foundational course for Carwyn explored becoming an AWS certified practitioner. As with other ACG and Skills courses, he appreciated the experts’ engaged delivery and genuine interest in the topics they taught. The Azure courses were just as useful and memorable. He recalls one lesson when an instructor used everyday objects in a creative description of Azure databases. And these courses only scratched the surface. Carwyn continues to use ACG and Skills now and then. Over the past six months, he retained four certifications in ACG.

Carwyn’s story goes to show that learning platforms can be a direct avenue to career advancement. He acknowledges that in his industry, if you don’t keep up to date, you’ll fall behind quickly. Since committing to upskilling, he’s received quite a few unsolicited job offers on LinkedIn. Still, he feels lucky to have his new role at CGI. And wherever Carwyn’s career takes him next, ACG and Pluralsight Skills will be there for his upskilling needs.

For those looking to plot their own path to better skills, Carwyn advises starting free. Instead of spending money on a learning provider up front, test the platform out first to see if it suits you. 

We couldn’t agree more. Looking to try out our platform for yourself, free of charge?