Blog Life at Kion

Life at Kion: Brandon

Ashley Camara

Less than 1 min read

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How long have you been at Kion, and how did you find the company?

I started at Kion in September 2022. The way I found Kion is an interesting story. I was running Operations within our MSP at my previous company, and we had created a suite of internal tools to help us deliver value to our customers. We had gotten to a point where we started looking at software from other vendors, and I reached out to Tyler Long, whom I had met at re:invent many years back. We stayed in touch, as I knew she was with CloudCheckr, and I wanted to see if they could meet our requirements. She let me know that she had moved to a new company called Kion, and she set up a call with Randy Shore, who I now report to, for an introductory call. I looked at Kion and realized I had worked with their software when they were called CloudTamer for a contract role at NASA. Fast forward a couple of months, and while I could not procure Kion for my previous company, I loved the software so much that I reached out to Randy to see if any positions were available. I interviewed and started working at Kion a few weeks later.

Tell us about your role at Kion, what you’re most passionate about in it, and a bit about the tools and skills you use in it.

My official role within Kion is as a Senior Solutions Architect, the point person for a specific customer. This role allows me to learn about how our software works and to get it to work seamlessly within the customer’s set of tools and offerings. This keeps me on my toes and allows me to have a relationship with the customer that you don’t necessarily get to have in most engineering roles.

My non-official roles consist of contributing to various internal teams, providing tools to help both customers and team members, whether that’s contributing to our Terraform Provider, keeping our Compliance Checks and Standards up to date, providing tooling to customers to manage their ECS clusters better, or finding anything else internally I can do to help Kion. I get to use my DevOps past to help fill in gaps our otherwise incredible DevOps team might not be able to reach in time that our customer-facing team can take advantage of.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’ve been working on computer “stuff” professionally for 17 years, and I’ve always strayed away from “Dev” jobs because I never saw myself as a programmer. Recently, I’ve begun learning Golang and picking up issues and feature requests related to our Terraform Provider. While it is still a steep learning curve, I’m enjoying the challenge and the value it provides to our customers.

How did you get started in the cloud space? What about it piqued your interest?

I “started” in the cloud space in 2009, when I was maintaining an inventory of items and somehow came across AWS S3 as a place to store my notes. I remember creating an account, adding a couple of text files, and then forgetting about it until I got a bill from AWS for a couple of dollars. Once I got that bill, I went back and started playing with EC2 instances, but this was still very much me just “tinkering,” as I tend to do.

The first time I used the cloud for “work” was in 2012 when I was hired to manage a set of on-prem servers, and I asked why they didn’t just use the “cloud” without understanding what that meant. From there, the rest is history, and everything I do is cloud-first.

What’s been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the technology industry?

I would say that Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is being used for everything that isn’t “technically” infrastructure. Terraform has allowed products that have an API and a team capable of creating a Terraform provider from that API to be managed via code, and it decreases the time to implement that software in an environment where before you would have had to learn that company’s specific way, whether from their GUI or their API.

Is there an element of cloud use today that you have a strong opinion on? For example, the use of multi-cloud in an org, the security of the cloud, cloud certifications, controlling spending in the cloud, or cloud repatriation?

I think the single most important aspect of the cloud is to do it in a way that can infinitely scale without becoming overburdened by its scale. Having controls in place and the ability to report accurately can make the largest environment still “seem small.” Using software like Kion allows you to scale to infinity with one public cloud provider and multiple across both commercial and government regions, making the cloud seem far less scary.

How do you prefer to start your day?

Our four-month-old son, James, and my wife wake up earlier than I do. Now that James is old enough to interact with us, waking up to him next to me and having his face light up when he sees me is the best thing ever.

What's one thing you're learning right now, and why is it important?

Patience. The one thing I’ve struggled with the most throughout my life and career has been being patient with those I may feel “don’t pick things up fast enough.” This has caused riffs in my personal and professional life. Kion has put me into a role that requires me to be far more patient, and then, with my son James's birth, patience is needed, and it’s also rewarding.

What has your experience been with our company culture?

Every company/role I have participated in has claimed that Company Culture was their #1 goal. I can tell you that now that I’ve been with Kion for nearly two years, this is the only company that truly lives and breathes culture. Being remote first makes culture more difficult, but the combination of in-person gatherings for departments, annual All Hands conferences, and the dozens of Slack channels that aren’t dedicated to work all form a company culture that truly is a top priority of Kion.

What keeps you busy outside of work hours?

Home Automation and driving! Whether hooking up different devices to work with my current home automation or creating variations to my current setup to mess with my wife’s routine in a funny way, I’m always finding a new way to automate something, whether or not it makes sense.

My wife and I moved to Colorado 6 years ago, and the roads here are world-class. Whether on a motorcycle or a sports car, I do my best to find time to leave my neighborhood, travel an hour west to get into the canyons, and just drive.

What's the best advice you've ever received, and who was it from?

While I’m still learning to implement this mindset best every single time, my wife Karla has this equation, e + r = o, which means “Event plus reaction equals the outcome”. This has taught me that while you can’t control the event, you can control your reaction to influence the outcome.

About the Author

Ashley Camara

Ashley is a People Operations Specialist at Kion.

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