Women in Tech: In Conversation With Linh Luong

  • Linh Luong, AWS DevOps Engineer, discusses her career path and challenges she has faced, as well as advice for women in tech.

    By way of introduction, can you let everyone know a little about you and your role within Version 1?

    I joined Version 1 back in September 2020 as an AWS DevOps Engineer, and one of my first customer projects was with the Home Office (LECP – Law Enforcement Cloud platform). This involved developing and building out the AWS Infrastructure / Landing Zone, CI/CD using AWS CodeBuild / CodePipeline, implementing Cloud and DevOps best practices, and ensuring the highest level of security best practices are used including access controls and authentication.

    I then moved on to my second project which was with HMRC SOTF – ADW (Analytical Data Warehouse) where I was involved in creating GitLab CI/CD pipelines, code base refactoring, and Windows MSSQL POC. I am currently still engaged with HMRC but with ECS Operations, taking on a lead role within the team and helping to bridge the gap between Development and Operations.

    Outside of work, in my spare time, I like to go for long walks with my dog and enjoy painting, drawing, and sketching.

    Like many in Version 1, you weren’t always pursuing a career in this field. Can you tell us a little about your career path and how you’ve ended up where you are today?

    I didn’t come from your typical IT background. I was in retail as a sales assistant for 10 years before deciding to take a leap into a career I had an interest in. I signed up for an IT Technician apprenticeship back in 2017 that lasted 18 months which gave me the fundamental IT skills. My line manager at the time saw potential in me and suggested I should read up on AWS Cloud Computing and Terraform.

    That is when I was intrigued by the whole concept of “DevOps” – the automation, agile way of working, cultural philosophies, combing software development and IT operations, shortening the development cycle and providing continuous delivery.

    I decided then I really wanted to work towards becoming a DevOps engineer, so I started to study AWS in my free time and obtained my first AWS Solutions Architect certification while still doing my apprenticeship. After my apprenticeship had finished, I started looking for a Junior DevOps Engineer role, was hired at GVC Group in April 2019, and haven’t looked back since!

    Where did your passion for tech and in particular DevOps come from?

    From a young age, I have always been interested in technology and have come into contact with programming languages, namely “pascal” since my uncle at the time was studying a Computer Science degree. I recall helping him type some code on an old IBM computer with a monochrome monitor.

    I think what made me passionate about DevOps was the continuous learning opportunities. I am the type of person who always strives to be better while learning new things at the same time.

    Like an architect making a plan of a whole building and planning how different parts are connected and implemented, you have people with different specializations who actually carry out that plan. Different types of thinking are required for DevOps – high-level thinking, which is almost like connecting dots, which I personally find rewarding and challenging.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    Typical day activities start with the usual morning daily stand-ups. I provide ALM tooling support which includes; Jira, Confluence, GitLab, Artifactory, X-Ray, AWS workspace automation and user support, and ALM tools release to production, working in parallel with the Development team.

    I am a full-time carer for a family member who fell sick in 2019. I had been very transparent with Version 1 during the hiring process that I may require emergency time off should I need it. I felt I was well supported and have had no issues ever since I started this role with being flexible with working hours when needed.

    It can sometimes be hard to balance caring for someone full-time and working at the same time. Luckily enough I do have someone helping me with caring tasks while I’m working until I finish for the day. Having your people manager check in with you every fortnight for your 1:1 is also reassuring, where you can raise any issues if any. They are always there if you need them whether it's work-related or a personal issue – always just an MS Teams message away!

    You’ve recently become a People Manager within the Version 1 AWS Practice - how do you find being in a leadership role in a male-dominated industry?

    I think more women should step up to be in leadership roles. I am sure most women felt the same way as I did prior to my taking on this role. I was the type of engineer who just wanted to “get on with it” and was also afraid of what a leadership role would entail. Will I live up to the role? Can I do a good job? “Not many female leads are out there so I’d rather stay hidden” – that type of thinking.

    But I decided to take the leap of faith at the offer like I have done with my IT career choices, to break the mould and boundaries, and I truly do not regret it.

    I don’t feel any difference in being in a leadership role, it just so happens I am a female! I have very good support and mentoring from my People Manager Tom Werner and also Sat Gainda for this role.

    What advice do you have for women looking to get into the tech industry? Is there anything you wish you would have told your younger self?

    Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, you can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t be daunted by a male-dominated industry, keep pushing through barriers and take the leap!

Share this story