7 mins read

Humans of Omise: Ross Golder


Ross Golder, DevOps engineer from Omise

What attracted you to work with Omise and how has it been so far?

The job description stood out to me. It described a position that I could see myself filling, and would involve working with tools and technologies I would be happy and comfortable with. I had heard of Omise a few years ago as one of the recipients of the OMG airdrop, so after a little further research I decided to apply. I guess the other candidates can't have been that great, because here I am! I've been working at Omise for about 7 months now, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Tell us more about your job here and what you enjoy most about it.

I am a DevOps Engineer, which covers a wide range of responsibilities. There is project work, such as developing new solutions to solve problems, helping to make processes more efficient and co-ordinating changes to infrastructure. There is admin work, such as reviewing and approving fixes and solutions that other DevOps are working on, and ensuring that our systems are all patched and up-to-date. There is support work, helping others on the team with problems they are having, and being part of the 'on call' schedule. I enjoy the variety of the work, and the constant supply of problems to solve.

How did you get into programming in the first place?

In 1980, my dad bought a Sharp MZ80K home computer for the family and showed me how to type programs into the computer by copying code from the manual and various magazines. I soon learned how the BASIC language worked and not long before, I had also begun Z80 assembler routines for fun. My first paid job was at age 12, when I wrote some Borland Turbo C programs to extract and filter contract data from a parallel port connected to the mainframes at the company my dad worked at. I remember I was paid with a 32MB hard disk which I fitted to my Amstrad PC1640! Things have come a long way since those days.

Out of various paths in the programming world, why did you pick DevOps?

DevOps is just a modern name for what we used to call a 'systems administrator' now that we tend to deploy infrastructure with code rather than managing things manually. My first job after leaving school at 16 was with a local computer company, which involved using dial-up modems to connect to customer servers using VT100 'green screen' terminals. I was allowed to borrow a modem to use at home on the weekend, and I quickly learned how TCP/IP and PPP work and was able to connect to the Internet when it first became publicly available. At my next job, I began to get an insight into the Unix world, where I quickly ditched Windows and started using Linux full time. As the web took off, I ended up getting involved in the setup of DNS, mail, web and database services to support operations. DevOps is just a natural progression for someone that's into that sort of thing.

In your opinion, what does it take to succeed in this career path? Also, how would you define ‘success’?

DevOps work involves constant evaluation and re-evaluation of changes to system configurations and processes, and data flows, looking for inefficiencies and potential points of failure or weakness. A successful DevOps Engineer is building a mental model of the architecture they're working with and identifying small, incremental improvements that will correct flaws or maintain best practices and compliance expectations. On top of that there is security, monitoring, alerting, disaster recovery and cost optimisation aspects to be considered at all times. Success, in my opinion, is not simply being comfortable and productive working in this environment, but being able to enjoy it too.

What have you learned about yourself after joining Omise and what part do you like the most about working with us?

I have gained confidence in my abilities and began to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. After previously working as the sole DevOps engineer for a relatively small e-commerce company for most of the last two decades, I wasn't sure how I would get on 'starting from scratch' in a new environment. At Omise, there would be tools and systems that I had never come across. Would I pick things up quickly enough? I would be working alongside other DevOps engineers and my work would be more closely scrutinised by peer review. Would my work be good enough? That made me a little nervous. But right from day one the DevOps team, and all the other Omisians I have had the pleasure to meet and work with, have been wonderful and very supportive. I soon gained confidence, a better understanding of myself and where I fit in with the team, which helped develop a sense of purpose and direction. Work doesn't feel like such a chore, and I enjoy dealing with each task I work on throughout the day.

As a full-remote employee, how do you balance your time between work and personal life? Do you find it challenging at times to communicate with other Omisians?

If it's Monday to Friday, it's a work day. Otherwise, it's a 'find something else to do' day, whatever that may be. That's as far as I've thought about it. I don't find it particularly challenging to communicate with other Omisians when discussing work-related issues, but as a bit of a geek, I think my general social skills are probably not that great. The main challenge I find with respect to communicating with other Omisians, with the various options available, is deciding on when, how and who. Other than that, the occasional technical issue, such as echo, lag, disconnects, sound and picture quality can be a little annoying, but are unavoidable.

How do you usually handle problems? Any advice?

With patience and persistence, usually! I can't offer any 'magic bullet' answer to problem solving, although I do have a rough approach I learned when writing software for photocopier field engineers, which I remember as 'Symptom Cause Action (SCA)'. The idea is that by determining the potential causes for the problem, and eliminating them one-by-one you will reach the root cause of the problem, which will reveal one or more potential actions to take to resolve it. Also, if you find yourself struggling with a seemingly simple problem for hours or days, walk away, do something else first, then when you come back to it with a fresh perspective the answer often presents itself. If that doesn't work, try writing it down as a detailed problem report, because the act of writing about it helps you to uncover things you may have overlooked.

How do you like to spend your time when you are not working? Do you have any hobbies?

When I am not working, I just like to watch random stuff on YouTube. Before I came to Thailand, my hobbies were skydiving and hang gliding. Now I live near the sea, my hobbies are sailing and kite surfing.

How many pets do you have at home? Do they ever act funny or weird? :)

We have two dogs, two cows, five geese, and a duck. They don't do anything weird, but the geese make a lot of noise sometimes, which can be quite distracting when on a call.

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