For Justin Day, winning Computing's Cloud Professional of the Year award back in September indicates that his organisation is on the right track. The CEO of 6point6 Cloud Gateway - a cloud-focused startup that is part of the 6point6 group - is keen to share the achievement with his colleagues.
"I see us as a collective as being recognised," he tells Computing by phone, two weeks after his success. "It's recognition that we're doing the right thing and people are interested in what we're doing and listening to what we're saying."
For Day, that validation is as important as the award itself. "One of the big issues we've faced since our inception is we've struggled to find a competitor, which sounds kind of great but also can be problematic because you've got no one to compare yourself to," he explains. "You also have no one to justify that what you're doing is right or of value."
Day comes from a technical background, but his focus now is about growing Cloud Gateway, as well as making sure that the company has the "right ethos and attitude" as it expands. "I think cloud and cloud computing is a real cultural shift, as much as it is a technical one," he says. "It's really important for me that that culture is born from the ground up, inside the company and outside."
The technical side of things is handled by his "partner in crime" Neil Briscoe, so does he miss getting his hands dirty? "I don't miss hands-on at all, if I'm honest," he replies. "My passion from the technical side of things has always come from the learning rather than the doing.
"I can hold a very good conversation about the ecosystems of Amazon and Azure and I can knit them together to form an architecture. And that's great: that's all I need to do, but drawing it and talking about it, that's where I'm happiest."
Still, having that kind of inside knowledge in the arsenal can come in handy with client meetings. "You always have someone technical who likes to catch the salesperson out, and then I say something clever to make them realise I'm technical," he jokes.
"My ears and eyes are always open, I'm always learning, but I have a very solid set of opinions and views about where I think these things are going and I want to share them."
It's these qualities that made Day a good fit for the award: a consummate professional who cares deeply about cloud. It's an awards ceremony that Day and his colleagues took very seriously: "We see it as a big one, a serious one and that's why we're over the moon to pick an award up."
The challenges ahead
In the weeks since the big night itself, Day has already seen an impact in the community, with people old and new rushing to get in touch. His LinkedIn message box is filling up fast with people who "want to forge new conversations and talk about what you're doing."
At least some of these should prove helpful as Day looks to growth in 2019 and beyond where the "exponential growth of cloud computing" will keep things changing.
When put like that, it sounds daunting, and Day is frank about the challenges the industry faces. "We have a number of very strongly-held opinions on networking having been overlooked as just something that happens," he explains. "Of course the internet has become this glorious answer to everything in some people's' eyes, but when you look under the bonnet and take on the challenges you realise 'actually, that might not work the way you expect it to work.'
"There is a massive shortage of networking skills in industry, so we're trying to fill those gaps with our platform and push our message. It's going to be hard, but we genuinely believe that if we get businesses on board who understand what we're saying and like what we're doing then we have something really special here. But that's the daunting bit: getting businesses on board."
With the Cloud Professional of the Year award under his belt, hopefully Day will find people increasingly receptive to his message in the months and years ahead.
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