Spotlight: Sarah Lean, Senior Solutions Architect, Octopus Deploy

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.


My favourite sport is curling. I’ve been playing the sport for nearly 30 years, ever since I saw it on TV as a demonstration sport in 1992 at the Winter Olympics. The teamwork, communication skills, and leadership skills I’ve learnt from the sport have helped me in my career.


Tell us about your careers journey so far.


I studied Computer Science at University and managed to get a job working in an IT Help Desk at a local Council’s offices. I learnt a great deal from that help desk job, both in terms of technical skills and customer service skills.


After a few years I decided to leave that role and take another Help Desk role, with a view to gaining more experience and exposure to different businesses and technologies.


A few more moves later saw me at managed service provider company who provided IT services to a bunch of other companies. They say that 1 year at a managed service provider is like 10 years work in an IT department and they aren’t wrong, the experience I gained was immense.


I worked at a few others managed service provider companies then gained a role at Microsoft. As a kid I always wanted to work for Microsoft so being able to land that role really was a dream come true.


Three years after joining Microsoft I decided I needed a new challenge and recently joined Octopus Deploy.


Whenever I have left a company, it’s always been to try and challenge myself or learn new skills.


What was your favourite subject in school and why?


My favourite subject at school was Home Economics. I loved baking as a kid at home and learning more about that was fun. I also had a great class and a fun teacher. Baking is still a hobby I enjoy to this day.


What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?


Computer Science and Maths can be useful subjects. When you look at most Computer Science degrees at university those are the subjects that are entry requirements.


Customer Service and communication skills are also massively important within IT. You’ll often have to deal with end users or customers. So having the skillset to talk to them will be useful.


What is your favourite thing about your job?


My favourite thing about my job is getting to meet new people and experience new things. Before COVID I travelled both in the UK and Globally to speak to customers or present at conferences.


My job opens so many doors and allows me to learn from new people. Which helps me grow both professional and personally.


That’s what I love about IT, it’s a universal industry. Tech here in the UK is the same as on the other side of the world.


What is a normal day in your role like?


My job varies quite a lot. One day I can be trying to learn a new technology, other times I can have a day full of strategy meetings trying to figure out the best way to engage with our audience.


At other times I can be building presentations and practicing them for delivery at conferences.


The variety within IT roles is massive and there is never two days that are the same. There is always something new to try, new to learn, problems to solve.


And what does your job title mean?


My job title is Senior Solutions Architect, usually within an IT department this means you would be responsible for helping to design or integrate complex IT systems together. You’d be responsible for helping to deliver the business technical direction.


For me though it’s important to understand the team I am in at my current job to understand what my role is. The team I work in at Octopus Deploy is the Community team. As a team we engage with our customers and new customers, by sharing product knowledge in the form of blogs, videos, talks at conferences. Our job is to help our customers maximise the value of our product in their environment.


Other companies might call my job a Developer Advocate or Cloud Advocate.


Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?


Throughout my career I have often had to write a “how-to guide” or create a video showing people how to do something with technology. It could be something along the lines of how to add a signature to all emails within Microsoft Outlook or how to create a meeting in Microsoft Teams.


Take something you know how to do and create a how to guide or a video and share it with friends or family or teachers and see if they can follow the guide.