Meet Mark James
Today we sit down with Mark James – Senior Architect. A self-confessed cloud geek, chief idea officer, and server whisperer, Mark is also a thoroughly nice bloke. You can even ask Dave!
What Attracted you to AirWalk and how did you end up working here?
I had been thinking about moving on from my last job for a short while, when David pinged me on Linked in. The initial no-nonsense approach was engaging. We have all spoken to recruiters before, and sometimes tolerate the generic scripts that they rush through (that’s agencies for you I suppose). With Airwalk if was different. David talked to my personal aspirations and explained the harmonies between AirWalk and how I ideally see life at work. Also, he didn’t rush in with financial incentives. I am more interested in company culture and leadership, as those are the key for me.
After speaking with Ben, I felt confident that I was making the right move. Ben confirmed for me that the organisation was progressive and forward thinking and appreciates the time that it takes to study in order to progress (not just stand still). It was somewhere that I would be actively encouraged to learn, and somewhere I would be surrounded by a likeminded team.
So I think we can say in summary that, David lured me with promises of beer and snacks followed closely by Ben who locked me in (metaphorically speaking – you decide?).
What is your role at AirWalk?
I am a Senior Architect at AirWalk. I work with clients to understand their requirements and transform their ideas into tangible business outcomes. I always work to drive value out of everything I do and I thrive on technical challenges.
What was your background before you joined us?
My early career as an Architect was working in Space, Defence and Intelligence working with the MoD (while employed by CGI). I designed and contributed to many high-profile (at least in military circles) customer networks up to and including ‘Secret’ classification. As with all high-integrity networks, there is particular focus on security boundaries, accreditation, and compliance, and very little wiggle room to implement something without precedence. However, that didn’t stop me!
After unequivocal evidence that my design solutions were (at the very least) equally secure, and in all cases better than the incumbent technology, several of my solution implementations became the ‘gold standard template’ (issued advice by CESG) to other MoD partners.
I can discuss in generic terms what these are if anyone is interested? Any more detail than that and I’d have to kill you afterwards (wink wink).
What achievement were you proudest of last year – in and / or out of work
I am proud every day of my wife and my 3 kids, for lots of different reasons.
Professionally, in the last 12-18 months I have taken a fledgling Cyber Security Platform, and single-handedly re-architected the platform into a globally distributed enterprise grade service. See for yourself.
While sometimes being singled out for praise in global all-hands calls (in a company of 7500 employees), I was often financially rewarded for my dedication and innovation, and recognised for my work at executive levels within the organisation. Reward in itself some might agree.
What are you excited about work wise going into 2020?
I am thrilled to be working with a diverse group of driven individuals who are operating at the top of their game. I believe that we are never finished with learning and improving our ability to shine in our chosen careers and I love the fact that AirWalk recognise this and actively encourage professional and personal growth. Already I have noticed some outstanding characteristics in my peers and anticipate learning as much as I can from them. It’s great to be a part of the team!
What could we find you doing outside of work?
I like to spend my time with my wife and kids as much as possible. As sad as it may sound to some of you, one of my favourite things to do is study. I love learning and playing with new tech, and am focussed presently on CI/CD orchestration tooling with particular emphasis on the ‘service mesh’ (Itsio or Helm anyone?)
Apart from that, I love to cook. I have been cooking since the age of 10. My nan and mum brought me up cooking Italian and English food, and later in life I have taught myself Indian cooking. A couple of years ago I completed and Artisan Baking course and I really enjoy making my own bread at weekends.
One fact about yourself that no one at work would know?!
If not the first, I was one of the first engineers to design/deploy a remote user VPN solution into a classified network back in 2004 (so I was told by my security accreditor at the time). Of course this cannot be evidenced, but it’s pretty cool if it is true!