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Kicking Down Doors is a series highlighting employees who are on the rise at ECS.

Our spotlight is on Al Hussain, a junior cloud engineer whose hard work, commitment, and willingness to take risks propelled him forward in his career at ECS.

For Altaf (“Al”) Hussain, a deep sense of curiosity has inspired a rewarding career in technology. As a kid, Al wanted to understand his environment and how things worked. He loved disassembling objects and figuring out how to put them back together. Asking questions cultivated his creativity and led to a career of problem-solving and inquiry.

Getting started

As a senior in college, Al discovered InfoReliance Corporation (now ECS). He worked as an intern with the company’s IT experts and designed a paperless document handling solution for human resources. Later, when Al applied for a job at the company, he was hired to join the help desk. Working hard was nothing new for Al, and he excelled at his position.

Mentors matter

The key to his progress: building relationships with mentors and people who could introduce him to new ideas, solutions, and technologies. “I’ve always understood that the best way to learn about a new topic is to talk to the people who are most passionate about it,” Al reflected. Mentoring from the ECS Cloud Center of Excellence (Cloud CoE) team had a significant and lasting impact on his career.

“We were really impressed with Al,” said VP of cloud John Sankovich, who along with Dr. Imran Bashir, ECS CTO of cloud computing and VP of emerging technologies, mentored and guided Al as he moved through various milestones at the company. “Al participated in our ECS Cloud University and received training for Azure,” John remembered.

Taking a chance

“The training for Azure was really complex,” said Al, “but because I already had a background in Microsoft solutions, I found that I was able to learn the concepts quickly.” Balancing his full-time work with test prep was not easy, but he tackled the challenge with enthusiasm. The Cloud CoE sponsored Al for an additional cloud certification in Amazon Web Services (AWS), and tracked his progress and professional development. “Al wanted to move from an internal role on the help desk to a direct, billable, customer-facing role in cloud,” said John. “Over the course of six months or so, we continued to mentor him while he was looking for the right opportunity.”

Stepping up

When the right opportunity arrived, Al was ready. ECS landed a contract to provide cloud migration services to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the nation’s combat logistics support agency. DLA manages the global supply chain for the U.S. military and facilitates the acquisition of everything from fuel and weapons to equipment and raw materials. Instead of hiring an outside candidate, the ECS Cloud CoE recommended Al for an internal promotion to junior cloud engineer. This was a critical juncture—a great opportunity for Al, and a reflection of ECS’ company culture of investing in, and valuing, talented people.

Meeting the challenge

The impetus of Al’s move from help desk to cloud engineer was the same as in his younger years: inquisitiveness and curiosity. Al connects with colleagues in every area of the ECS family, teaching, listening, learning, and solving problems. Today, he is continuing his upward climb at ECS: he’s still testing, breaking down and rebuilding systems, and figuring out what’s possible—all in the world of cloud. The same determination that drove him to ask questions, seek mentorship, and pursue training, inspires his current path. By searching for new opportunities, Al is finding answers to his ever-changing questions about technology.