Miguel Mendez [mmendez]
What is your specialty? What applied knowledge and methods do you use in your work?
I'm a network engineer and, as such, most of the knowledge I apply is networking related: TCP/IP, BGP, IS-IS, MPLS, traffic engineering, knowledge of various vendors' gear including Cisco and Juniper.
Programming is sometimes required for my job as well, so being proficient in Python is useful.
I make use of my troubleshooting skills very often too.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can get to know more about you or a project you are working on?
I work as a Network Engineer for Google. You can find a description of the role here: https://www.google.com/about/jobs/locations/sydney/engineering/network/network-engineer-sydney.html
How would you describe your professional strengths and weaknesses?
I'm a very strong team player. I'm committed and always finish what I start. I'm dependable and a very fast learner.
My main weakness would probably be that I sometimes don't manage my time as well as I could, but am working on getting better at that.
What did you play with as a child? Does your profession have anything to do with your childhood toys?
I had Legos and that probably got me interested in how things work, building my own things and so on. I got my first computer, a ZX Spectrum, when I was 6 and learned BASIC on it. That certainly shaped my career.
What role does creativity play in your work? Do you have leeway to develop innovative ideas?
Absolutely. Some people think that operations work is not creative but we are always thinking about ways to automate stuff and make our lives easier.
Pretty much every automation effort on our team involves being creative.
What type of technology do you use to develop your work?
Google has its own large scale monitoring system which I use all the time. As a programming environment I use emacs and python on a Linux box to do most of my work.
Do you think you are up to date in your sector? How do you keep up to date?
I'm lucky to work for a company that is always on the bleeding edge of technology so I get to use things like Openflow which other companies have not even considered rolling out yet.
I have to keep up to date just to be able to do my job. We get regular training and we are also expected to do our own research.
Which is more important: meticulousness so as not to make mistakes or imagination to find innovative solutions?
Mistakes in production when you can impact millions of users is definitely a NO NO. So I will go with that one.
What do you do about that stupid "bug" you’ve been trying to work out for five hours with no progress?
Being surrounded by ridiculously smart people in my team I always ask for another pair of eyes to take a look at the problem if I get stuck.
Which do you prefer: to deal with technical problems or problems with clients?
Definitely technical problems. I'm an engineer.
Do you need to be in good physical shape to do your work?
Not really, but I try to keep in good shape because I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer.
Which university subject required the most from you in order to pass?
It was probably one of those things I wasn't really interested in like advanced calculus.
Ingenuity is lost if it is not cared for. How is ingenuity cultivated
When you work in a challenging environment where employees are encouraged to work on problems they find interesting (Google's famous 20% project time) it is very easy to keep your ingenuity alive and well.
Monotonous assembly line styled work is surely a killer for that.
Will you be one of the first to reserve a seat once space travel comes on the market?
I find it exciting and, when/if becomes affordable, I will sure do it.
What is your concept of elegance in solutions?
Elegance for me implies non-over-engineered code, the simplest of all solutions that tries to solve one problem and not be the kitchen sink.
If it is easily understood by your peers it is a good solution.
Do you have a group of friends or colleagues that you share technological matters with?
Pretty much every one I work with at Google is a geek in one way or another so, yes.
What kind of job would you like to get via telephone today?
I love my job and have no plans to change it.
Aside from know-how, what qualities should an engineer have in order to be a successful professional?
Communication, although someones underrated, is key if you have to work and interact with other people. People's skills are always welcome and, sadly, many times lacking in engineers.
When evaluating an employee or collaborator, what importance do you give to courses and certifications?
Almost no importance. In my case I don't care whether a person is a CCIE, I'm more interested in their thought process and how the solve real life problems than the fact that they passed an exam.
Are you are satisfied with your current challenges? Would you like to deal with more difficult problems? If so, what kind?
Google's network being so large there is no shortage of challenges and problems to work on. If anything, I'd love to have more time to work on more things!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself in a more senior position within the Network Operations team at Google.
What advice do you give those who want to work in your field?
Make sure you know the difference between networking protocols' theory and actually understanding how networks work. Is what a manager I had used to call the 'networking aptitude'.
If you are passionate about the networking world you will love this kind of job. Otherwise you will get bored very soon. Do this because you love networks, not because there is money to be made.