Episode 5 FinOps Careers: Beginning the FinOps journey
The FinOps career path continues to evolve. Hear the perspectives of three practitioners, Vijay Karthavya Kudithipudi, Kate Ferguson and Hector J. Meneses Jr., who have recently started their FinOps career journeys. What is similar to your path? What is different?
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[00:00:01] Joe: One.[:
[00:00:06] Vijay: Hi, Vijay Karthavya Kudithipudi.[:
[00:00:12] Kate: Hi, I'm Kate Ferguson and this is FinOpsPod. Do we get a second try now?[:
[00:00:37] Joe: And I'm Joe Daly[:
[00:00:39] Joe: and this is FinOpsPod. It is hard.[:
[00:00:45] Joe: Okay.[:
[00:00:47] Joe: Okay, I'm going to say, and this is FinOpsPod.[:
[00:00:52] Joe: Yeah. All right.[:
[00:01:02] Joe: You gotta launch yourself.[:
Hi, this is Stacy Case[:
[00:01:13] Stacy: FinOpsPod[:
He keeps telling them.[:
[00:01:34] Stacy: FinOpsPod
but We just got it. No, We just got it.[:
[00:01:39] Stacy: success.[:
[00:01:47] Joe: Yeah, it was pretty[:
[00:01:48] Joe: 1, 2, 3.
[00:01:51] Joe: is[:
[00:01:53] Joe: It's not bad.[:
[00:02:07] Joe: We did it better than they did.[:
[00:02:16] Joe: We had Deana Solis and Noel Crowley interview, three folks who are new on their FinOps career journey. They're not all new on their careers. New in their finops career.
We had Vijay Karthavya Kudithipudi, who is in Italy setting up a FinOps team for Nokia, Hector Junior Menesses Junior, who works for PPG in New Jersey and Kate Ferguson, who is a FinOps Analyst for Liberty mutual in Boston.[:
[00:03:03] Joe: I just stayed silent on mute with my camera off, playing producer role on this one.[:
[00:03:16] Joe: They did. There were some great questions I laughed at. Noel asked, what baggage do you see people carrying at work? And I kinda was like, where is this going? It's not FinOps baggage for me. It's finops scars. But it's interesting to hear how Vijay, Kate and Hector answered that. They talked a bit about imposter syndrome, how they learn, what skills they bring to FinOps because a lot of folks, especially the first generation of finops practitioners, no one, no one started in finops.
[00:03:50] Joe: another role. And said, this is a need that needs to get filled, and learned on their way. We're now getting folks who are starting their careers in finops. So that's an interesting perspective.[:
We've come where[:
[00:04:41] Stacy: Listen, it's great that people are out there that. are smarter than either you or I. So that's, that's what we need. Right? Right. We need the smarter people out there.[:
[00:05:04] Stacy: Sounds great. I can't wait to hear it.
[00:05:22] Hector: My name's Hector. I currently worked at PPGs finops team. It's a newly developed role that they created. My role is FinOps cloud financial analysts. So going in the ins and outs of learning about cost allocation, how to optimize our costs, and how to budget them appropriately. The first project we're tackling is how do we go about budgeting and forecasting for our Azure cost and going a step further and allocating those costs to our customers. Fun fact about me. I actually never left this time zone, so I've been to Peru, but Peru is still in the same, longitude, latitude of the globe.
So like I've never left this time zone.[:
[00:06:14] Hector: Yes,[:
[00:06:17] Hector: no, other,[:
[00:06:20] Hector: no, I haven't even no the furthest west. I've been it's Pittsburgh.[:
[00:06:29] Hector: Oh, yeah. planning on going too.[:
[00:06:32] Hector: changes.[:
The fun part about me is I love learning new languages. I mean, I can say that I'm fluent in Italian, but I want to learn at least three languages.[:
[00:07:14] Vijay: Yeah, it's quite complicated. Right? And I think learning other languages is quite simpler than learning FinOps language. That's what I'm having some challenges. I mean, you have different cross-functional teams and everyone start using their own technical terms and they have their own vocabulary and bringing a central vocabulary to the function, which is being built into organization. It's pretty much challenging, but learning languages, it's pretty straightforward. You have well defined vocabulary. Right? And FinOps, it's evolving.[:
[00:07:48] Vijay: day by day. I think.[:
[00:08:05] Hector: That's a great question. My first role at PPG, I was a financial analyst for our global corporate spend. It was managing and forecasting budgets for HR, IT, digital, and EHSPS, environmental health, safety, product stewardship. And my time there kind of evolved into more of understanding the IT costs where an opportunity arose in our cloud center of excellence at PPG, where I could hop into a different experience to learn about FinOps[:
So I found a job posting as a financial analyst in tech finance for Liberty Mutual. And it turns out I just so happened to be placed on the new, the evolving FinOps team, what turned out to be the FinOps team. First role out of college. I have a finance and management information systems background, as as a minor in Spanish, I'll add, although that doesn't help me day to day. That's sort of how I fell into FinOps. I'm happy I'm here. But the help of the foundation and mentors in my organization have helped me feel ever growingly confident in what I'm doing, because as you guys mentioned, everything is so new day-to-day that it can be daunting to try and keep up or know what I'm talking about.[:
It has its own challenges apart from having an individual contributor role and then contributing to cost analysis. Apart from doing that, have to motivate your team and you have to motivate yourself, and you have to find the reason. And FinOps, I found it fascinating because every cloud vendor, they have their own technical complexities and mixing it with costing and pricing. It becomes even more complicated it really gives a platform for a lot of innovators to solve the problems. And I see FinOps ever growing environment, as we transition into digital transformation across the globe.
So There is a lot of opportunity and industry needs us. Right. And they thought it was a right opportunity for me and learn something from the community and give back to the next generations as well.[:
[00:11:50] Vijay: It's a very interesting question. , And it has different levels of answering, right? Let me answer the part, switching from role FinOps role. Why? Right? So anyone who see the industry trend and how the public cloud adoption is happening, we know the challenges that come with the public cloud adoption and customers may be internal or external, and the good part, jumping on to FinOps role, without any relevant background. I don't say relevant background some other background where you can use the skillsets. Like, like I have been a program manager. I am using my facilitation and team building skills here. I mean, in R&D I'm using those technical skills to understand these cloud complexities. Right. So coming from that perspective, it gives you a chance to see the problem with the fresh eyes. Right? Coming from a fresh perspective, It gave me actually a fresh face off eyes like peeps or infants see the world when they are on their exploring opportunities for the first time. Right. Or learning new things for the first time. So that's the advantage.[:
But say I am personally going on that journey and trying to get better at it. But the imposter syndrome is real when dealing with other people's baggage, not to say I don't have any, but not years of experience baggage, if that makes sense.[:
It's more or less when I think of baggage, I think of working around that space and really understanding the constraints that the organization has set up. It adds to that challenge of how do we continue to network with our customers and our stakeholders to provide them the solution that they need in a manner that is cost efficient timely.[:
[00:16:08] Vijay: I mean, I have a great story here , Deana. Because as people as human beings, we learn from our past and we try to apply the learnings from the past to our current roles or responsibilities or environmental situations. Right? So when I took up this challenge, as you said , you need to find a mentor or you need to find someone who supports you or you need someone to pave the path for you.wanted to say was in back in:
And this is the motivation for my , as you say, lighthouse, right, which is guiding you towards something at the end of the tunnel, and this is my motivation and when I speak with my team members and other. I gave the same explanation.
I was lucky enough to find a team who are intrinsically motivated. Right? These are the things that I can share from my experience.[:
So I've been really fortunate in that, but I'd also say even when I was attending the finops summit and seeing other women presenting each month and just being like, wow, they do all of these things. I don't see why I can't too really is impactful. I know I've heard whispers about a mentorship program for the FinOps Foundation and I think that would be fantastic. I'm just going to put that out there. But just being able to see and hear stories of other people in FinOps gives me courage because I am by no means running in FinOps. So being able to see people who are, and sort of see what I'm working towards.
There's no fences in the ground of what this FinOps is necessarily cause it's ever growing. So being able to see people work towards that is really great. If that makes sense.[:
[00:19:02] Hector: It definitely makes a lot of sense. And I think when we consider what mentorship is at the end of the day, it's guidance towards what we do in our day-to-day jobs. I think, we can seek that mentorship through different mediums. Right? Similar to how you've had people who've guided you through the FinOps practice. For me that's my manager, who is the senior manager of the CCOE. And with my finance manager, who I worked for previously, who is a finance manager for IT. And coupled with that interaction, I have also gotten a lot of feedback and mentorship through the FinOps organization, their website and the community that we built together.
I think that has been a very important stepping stone in terms of my growth. And I'm sure as well, other people's growth through the literature that they provided and the materials that they have prepared.[:
Right? I don't know if either of you have encountered that, but like I know Vijay, you wanted to lead a team and you are in that's great, but I don't know what my future looks like yet. So I'm trying to define that.[:
[00:20:49] Kate: Can the worst be hyphenated.[:
[00:21:07] Stacy: Why did you pause the interview?[:
[00:21:16] Stacy: FinOps or your job.
Cause you know, , you're the director of community now.[:
[00:21:25] Stacy: Okay.[:
[00:21:27] Stacy: Yes. Do cloud. Good. You said that so fast, like it was one word.[:
[00:21:38] Stacy: Is that a question, mark? It sounds like Yoda do club. Good cop. Good deal.[:
[00:21:46] Stacy: No, that's good. I like it.[:
[00:21:50] Vijay: Can I go first here[:
[00:21:53] Vijay: Because I tried to explaining these things to some of my friends, colleagues . Right? So it's a big organization where I work. So everyone will, what do you do actually? So I thought explaining them in a very simple way: hey, I just analyze, analyze, and then inform right.
To analyze and then inform. So you should not take any action as central team or whatever it is, right. You are the guard rates for engineers and central of excellence, everything. So that means you have to analyze the data, analyze again, so that you are confident with the data and then inform or guide the people.
Right. so three words. I mean, I have used this same word two times, but it's okay. Right?[:
[00:22:45] Kate: I was going to say, I don't know if one of these is hyphenated or not, but we're going to roll with and hope you'll give exceptional. I would say first and foremost, I don't know if cloud it's included in that, but cloud is the first thing I tell people problem solving. I feel like every day I just get emails and pings with problems or needs, and it's figuring out a creative solution to that. then partnership because a majority of the job is working on influencing more than actually taking action yourself. So I think building those partnerships and relationships throughout the are important.[:
[00:23:23] Hector: Man, these are all great words. Honestly, that's really hard. For the words that popped into my head initially, when you asked me this question I'm guessing myself, now that I'm thinking about it more, but I'm going to say them anyway and just roll with it. My words would be gamification of cloud. Because at least for one particular process in Cloud FinOps, which is our cost allocation optimization, there is a sense there is a game that is being played, right where the architect of the game is our cloud service providers. They're the ones who us how they're charging us in base of our cloud usage. And it's our responsibility FinOps practitioners to try to allocate those costs to our customers, to optimize that expenses as well as to forecast and budget, any particular issue or problem, or trying to problem solve any type of issue that may arise from any changes that they make on their end.
Right. So three words, but[:
[00:24:33] Hector: what I had.[:
[00:25:00] Vijay: No, No, it's, it's a very good question. And the simple answer is whenever you get a resistance , you just ask why. If you get the why behind that resistance, or conversation, right, you are able to guide the team or, you will be able to partner with anyone, right?
So , from my experience, why I said analyse, analyse, and then informed, because you analyze once and go to some calls or some meetings where you have to resolve the issues, then you might not be confident what you have analyzed, and you should ask the question what they will be asking and why they're asking what they're asking.
So this is my approach. And you have the data. And cloud providers are very good at providing lots and lots of data. My team, we analyze the data in a way that we try to answer the questions or anticipate the questions. And it's the tricky part. Maybe the answers that we are trying to explain are not the ones that they are expecting.[:
If that makes sense. Like we're not in charge of the architecture decisions necessarily. Right. But we get asked about architecture recommendation sometimes. Right. I think it really comes down to being able to partner across the enterprise whenever I'm not sure about something because someone else definitely knows the answer. Am I building those relationships? I'm able to customer's problems, and get them the answers they need. I'll leave it like that.[:
I think that's very valuable and very important in terms of managing people's expectations and their role in helping finops grow as a practice in the business.[:
Those are completely different audiences with completely different knowledge bases. And then you bring that down to a developer or a product owner. I think going back to Hector's point, being able to communicate effectively with each of those personas, is super important.[:
[00:28:44] Noel: So, this is nice because you've literally gone there and. The audience you're talking to matters and how you deliver your message matters, but you all said, you weren't sure what I asked. Right. And this I like, because when I say Un-FinOps, I go, I come from the development background, IT background, all of that. When we used to develop stuff back in the day, when I used to do that stuff, we made it to basically work that Superbowl , that happens once a year, that's 30 seconds long. And our website was going to get hammered for a couple of hours after that. developed our application to take in that load and just carry on as normal right now today, hopefully from a FinOps point of view, we're trying to say to people, actually, you want to make your application to be as small as possible at that moment in time.
And for it to be as smart, as possible to be able to scale up and down and do whatever it needs to do. Right? And that's what I meant by it, but the audiences we're talking to is important.
And you said, a few minutes ago about gamification of cloud, I actually recently started doing gamification of FinOps within my company. it the Tri-FinOps Tournament and yes, we completely based on Harry Potter. Right. And we had Dumbledore out there encouraging people to come in and play and great fun.
What I learned from it, and kind of goes back to who you're talking to is for three years, I've been doing presentations, talks, lunchbox sessions, everything. Right. And I've been giving people the FinOps message, right? The amount of people who have pinged me in the last two weeks to go, oh, didn't know that the tool could do this and that. I didn't know we could do that. . It's like different ways of getting a message out to people.[:
Because you mentioned it, I mean, it's like the first word on your LinkedIn and so it must have a meaning to you[:
You know, like how to design a slide and sure the formatting's proper what to say in the slide, how to say it, who's the audience, get some, something similar to what Kate's take mentioned earlier. Right? I think countering that challenge, I had to really think about, okay, clearly this is a challenge that I'm facing that I don't necessarily know how to adjust or what to do, but what are the steps I can take to reach that solution and try to come back from a failure that I had about bringing in a presentation that wasn't up to par to what my personal expectations were for the project.[:
Vijay or Kate, do you want to add anything you would like to share, anything you want to promote, anything you want to brag about? Anything you want to complain about?[:
[00:33:31] Vijay: I want promote my own life cycle ops. I have invented one. So I want to brag about this one. It's: Identify, Inform, Implement, and Iterate for I talent before I process. So I like this. Like, you identify the problem, you inform it to the right stakeholders, implement the solution. And then iterate if the results are not good. Right? so iteration is the key. So I know that we have these crawl, walk, run all this stuff, right. Maybe I'll try to inject this for a into our FinOps, right?[:
[00:34:22] Vijay: I think I have to do yeah. so why, because I'm preparing for my pro certification. So I have to do it right. I don't know. I have to ask Joe and you guys, if this podcast counters some of the contributions or not, I'm being selfish here.
All right. We did it. Another episode of FinOpsPod complete. You, the completionist listener the FinOpstinaut. You are here with me and we are going to wrap this up. Let me thank everyone on the podcast. Big thank you to Deana Solis Noel Crowley Kate Ferguson Vijay and Hector Jr. Vanessa is Jr. Also big, thank you to Stacy Case helping me intro and navigate the episode as always so much fun.
If you can't get enough talking about FinOps, join us, June 20th through 21st at FinOps X two full days of fin ops content. We got career content. We got shop talk. You want charge back? We're gonna talk charge back. You want to talk automation? We're going to talk automation.
Governance policies, career building skills and networking with folks. Who do the same sort of work you do? It's going to be so much fun and cannot wait. Hope I get to see you. The complete, if you're listening to it at this point, and you're finding out about FinOps X, you're awesome and I can't wait to see you out in Austin, Texas. June 20th and 21st. All right folks, that's it for this week. I'll see you next time here on FinOpsPod!