‘Saying no is a very valuable skill, when managed correctly’
Adrian Hynes. Image: Fidelity Investments

‘Saying no is a very valuable skill, when managed correctly’

1 Jul 2020931 Views

Fidelity Investments’ Adrian Hynes talks about his role as a cloud platform architect and the most important skills he uses.

Adrian Hynes is a cloud platform architect with Fidelity Investments. While the job of many cloud platform architects can involve a lot of conceptual work, Hynes said his role is very much a development and delivery one.

Here, he talks about his day-to-day role and the skills that are most important in this job, a lot of which are soft skills such as communication and time management.

‘The days where each role was siloed and each threw their delivery over the wall to the next is well and truly gone’
– ADRIAN HYNES

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What is your role within Fidelity Investments?

I’m a hands-on cloud platform architect responsible for enabling teams across Fidelity to move their applications safely and securely to the cloud.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

My daily routine touches everything from being the customer with our cloud providers, to helping my internal business partners serve Fidelity’s customers. Throw in a mix of development, architecture, security, audit, peer programming, pull request reviews and then a pinch of learning something new or chasing a new cloud certification, and that covers the majority of my days.

What types of project do you work on?

I get to work on cloud-native technologies and all its ecosystem of related projects and remove the complexities to allow for easier adoption by our business partners, which then allow them to better serve Fidelity’s customers.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Communication and time management are crucial skills in most roles and that’s no different for me. Communication is key in so many areas of my day-to-day job. That may be refining a story for a developer to work on, working through new feature requirements with our cloud providers, or setting expectations with our customers on delivery.

Both verbal and written communication are areas that must always be worked on, especially when working in a multicultural global organisation like Fidelity. You can’t make assumptions and should always play back what has been communicated to make sure the recipient has fully understood what the ask is, or what the ask is of you.

Time management is another skill that I am always working on and must use effectively. Many of our meetings will kick off at 1pm as the US comes online, so it’s important to make very good use of our mornings for any development work, preparing for these meetings and keeping them focused. I also find it beneficial to schedule meetings back to back in the afternoon to make efficient use of this time, as you can find yourself losing 30 minutes very quickly with a cup of coffee, although it’s easy to do both in tandem while working from home.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

The hardest part of my day is saying no! I love helping others and teaching them what I know, so it’s very hard for me to say no when someone asks for assistance. Now in saying that, I have developed skills over time that have allowed me to still provide assistance, by either delegating or simply by answering queries and questions via a channel-like forum or a multi-user platform monitored by the whole team. Saying no is a very valuable skill, when managed correctly.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

A simple to-do list helps keep my work prioritised and me focused throughout the day.

Blocking out one hour in your calendar around lunch time every day is very important. It allows you that hour to have some lunch, go for a walk etc, without someone popping a meeting in your calendar.

Learning days have been a great addition to our team and our department, where one day every two weeks, you are encouraged to do some courses, prepare for a certification or even teach what you know to others.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

I have found building relationships is so important, not just within Fidelity but with our cloud partners and other third-party providers.

Within Fidelity, while we like to own our dependencies, it’s not always possible. So having good relationships and regular contact with other teams and departments is crucial when planning and working through these dependencies.

At Fidelity, we are using the latest in cloud technology and some of our requirements in the cloud space are not even built or available yet, so having a good relationship with our cloud partners can help to get these new features out to market very quickly. And most of the time these features will end up being used by other similar-sized companies, so it’s a win-win for the cloud provider.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

Sometimes architects in the technology space can be thought of as the ones who draw the shapes and join them up with various arrows and present concepts to teams. While I also enjoy conceptual work, my role is very much a development and delivery one, where we all work together to take ideas from concept to realisation.

Not only are all of the development team heavily involved during these stages, so are our business partners, so we have that quick feedback loop. The days where each role was siloed and each threw their delivery over the wall to the next is well and truly gone.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

What gets me up out of bed in the morning is first the people and then the technology. I am lucky enough to have a very strong team of developers and leaders around me that we’ve built up over a number of years, and their dedication and passion really rubs off on everyone and drives everything and everyone forward. I particularly love working with new team members and helping them grow within the team and watch them take ownership of the delivery of new features, it’s really satisfying.

Anyone who has started their cloud journey will tell you it’s a steep learning curve but working with cloud technologies and particular cloud-native technologies is very rewarding. You learn so much more about topics like networking and security, that you may have taken for granted when writing applications.

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