5 Traits that make someone a badass systems engineer

And once again my humble disclaimer

This post is in NO WAY insinuating I am a great engineer. I believe that no matter how much you know or think you know, there is always room for improvement and development. That being said these are some things I believe makes a system engineer truly a bad ass.


Knowledge is power

This is a no brainer…. well not really

Knowledge is power. The more you know the more you can help and explore the areas of technology. A great system engineer can learn from their failure (See above) and learn from others. Getting knowledge from different perspectives is invaluable. People do things different ways, doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but having 3 or 4 different perspectives for one task can really open your eyes on the underlying technology, and maybe even make you question your own perspective.

Learn! Learn from home labs! Learn from books! Learn from other people! Learn from VbrownBag! Learn from anywhere and everywhere! Always ask why!

  • Learn different perspectives.
  • Learn all the time.
  • Ask why.

We have a problem

Who would have thought technology would have consistent problems? Troubleshooting is why we all have jobs. and lets face it, we all love it. Finding the right solution and presenting it to the tech is a great feeling. But not everyone knows how to properly troubleshoot and dissect a situation.

Google is your friend, your friends are your friends, and KB articles are your friends, and the support line is your life boat on the titanic. I have a hard time putting down the problem and passing it off to VMware or EMC support, it kills a little bit of my pride. But it is a must when troubleshooting has hit a wall.

A great engineer knows the resources they can use to find an answer pretty quickly. They know how to look through logs and run esxtop.

  • Knowing the resources and exploiting them
  • Knowing the Tech
  • Knowing when to call support and when to keep chugging away

Owning the failure

Failures suck, they make you feel like a novice, and sometimes if they are really big failures sometimes they make you feel like you picked the wrong field. No one in history has experienced a failure, and not felt something.

But the trick is to take the failures like an uppercut, blame yourself for not blocking the punch and learn how to dodge.

Failure is where we learn in the tech field, it’s better than any classroom or any book. Living through the pain and the mental anguish really brings you down to earth.

So how do we learn from a failure?

  • Figured out what failed.
  • Do a solid and honest post-mortem
  • Look for advice
  • Find the solution

Honesty and Confidence

We have all been on those calls with someone from a vendor or MSP and they think so highly of themselves they blow smoke the whole time.  There is nothing more brutal and spine shivering when they get called out and don’t talk for the rest of the meeting.

But on the other hand, having a engineer on the call that knows the answer with pinpoint accuracy and tells the truth when he/she knows or doesn’t know a particular question is pure beauty.

Honesty might not be the easiest option in the middle of a meeting or issue but it is vital.

Confidence shows, you know when someone is a good engineer by there mixture of confidence and honest.

  • Knowing your skill level (Like really knowing your skill level)
  • It is OK not to know something, regardless of the outcome
  • Be confident about your ability

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