Shahid Iqbal Interview

Shahid located in the UK, is an Azure MVP (Microsoft Most Valued Professional) who has travelled to many countries around the world as part of his career. He is an independent consultant who specialises in Azure and cloud native, and has specialised in software development for over 12 years including AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service) which he recommends learning. He is active on social media and always happy to get involved with Twitter conversations to provide his input and support. Let’s move on and learn more about Shahid.

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Shahid Iqbal Interview

Tell us about yourself?  
Hi folks! My name is Shahid Iqbal, I’m an independent consultant who specialises in Azure and cloud native. I’m based in the UK although I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries as part of my job (when travelling was a thing if you can remember that far back!). I’ve been in IT for over 15yrs and in software development for over 12, outside of work I’m pretty boring really, typically enjoying techy things, cars and travelling.

What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
I don’t know about greatest achievement, but I think becoming a speaker at international conferences is something I’m very proud of, as is being recognised as a Microsoft MVP. If I look at some of the roles I’ve done (either permanent jobs or as a consultant) seeing the progress/maturity of teams I’ve worked with is also something I’m proud of. All of these are things that have all come about thanks to the hard work and support of others not just my own work.

How did you get into IT?
I’ve always been inquisitive about how things work, from a very early age taking toys apart to figure out how they work which I think played a pivotal part of my eventual transition to IT. One of my earliest computer memories was “programming” a little drawing turtle robot on a BBC micro in school. From there I was always a bit of a geek and enjoyed learning about computers and building computers when I was older. Eventually getting into programming probably quite late compared to others by playing around with Turbo Pascal in college (whilst I was not doing any IT related courses at college!). I didn’t follow the IT career path however instead going down a Science path at University and postgraduate until eventually switching back to IT by learning to program in .NET in my own time and getting a software development job.

How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
I was already in the Microsoft world as a .NET developer when Azure come out, initially I didn’t really understand what it was. A few years later when I was working on a team where we were managing hosted servers and realised that there was another way we could host our applications without having to be locked into the hardware configuration. Initially we began investigating the ability to scale our applications up during high usage periods and scale back down when we didn’t need as much capacity (we were using VMs at the time). We eventually lifted and shifted everything to Azure and started looking at the Platform as a Service offerings.

What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
My areas of expertise are generally around PaaS based infrastructure, Cloud native (containers, Kubernetes) and DevOps. I’m still actively involved in the .NET community too so tend to span development and Cloud architecture with my experience and work.

What certifications have you achieved, or the certifications you are working towards?
Over the years I’ve achieved a few certifications such as .NET and Azure (and project management) but it’s not something I’m currently pursuing. I feel certifications may have a place in your career but shouldn’t be defining you, instead focus on getting the experience with the products and demonstrate that, rather than simply pointing to a certification as evidence of competence.

What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure Kubernetes Service?
My regular workshops of course, no I’m kidding! There is a wealth of information out there to learn about Kubernetes although it’s very easy to be overwhelmed with this huge platform. My advice is to watch some introductory videos and then spin up a local cluster and start learning by doing. I learnt a tremendous amount about Kubernetes and other cloud native technologies from Katacoda (Katacoda – Interactive Learning Platform for Software Engineers) and also the Azure  Documentation Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) documentation | Microsoft Docs. Additionally there are a set of great books you can get from Azure for the low price of your contact details (The Kubernetes Bundle | Microsoft Azure) and finally I’ve spoken about Kubernetes a bit at various conferences. You can find some of my talks on this playlist shahiddev conference talks – YouTube

How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?
Azure is moving so quickly that trying to keep up to date is almost impossible. I find Twitter is a great resource to learn about new features/releases and signing up to email lists like Azure Weekly where you can get a weekly update is really helpful. The most important thing is, you don’t have to try and learn all of the details, simply knowing that a feature exists is helpful as you can always look up the details at a later date.

What would you recommend for someone who wants to become Azure certified? Try and get hands on experience with the platform, this may be at work, on open source projects or private projects. Also, there are really useful guides that will help you understand the exam and can be invaluable when combined with the hands on experience.

What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
Being nervous is perfectly natural, in my opinion commit to speaking at an event, this could be a lightning talk at a meetup or community event – the date of the event could be months in the future, you just need to commit to it. Practice your talk in a realistic way as possible, with a timer, in front of a mirror or family. Always remember you don’t have to be an expert on the topic and no one wants to see you fail either. If you don’t hate your first experience (you won’t!), then seize the moment and volunteer for more talks. In the current Covid situation many meetups are online, and it means you can speak across the work without having the ways and means to travel.

How did you become an MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional)?
I started speaking at meetups and conferences because I really enjoyed it (at the time I was speaking almost every month at different meetups across the country). Around the same time, I was involved in some free workshops around Kubernetes/AKS that were quite impactful, this led to a couple of people nominating me at almost exactly the same time, and I was fortunate enough to be awarded. I would suggest doing things you really enjoy and hopefully you’ll get recognised, if you are doing things for the sake of getting an MVP it can lead to disappointment if you’re not awarded.  

What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
The Azure platform is always improving and changing so I’m enjoying keeping up to date and helping companies to make best use of the platform.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Enjoy what you do, every day doesn’t have to be perfect but you have to enjoy it overall. If you don’t enjoy what you do, look to change it and pursue the thing that does make you happy. You don’t have to be coding every moment of your life either, it’s fine (necessary!) to not touch your computer for a few days if you want a break.

The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure?
(10 being the highest) 8 – there are always things that could be improved 😉

End of Interview

Name: Shahid Iqbal
Website: Head For Cloud
Twitter: @ShahidDev
LinkedIn: Shahid.Dev
Sessionize: Shahid-Iqbal

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