1500x Day One

Today marks 1500 days at AWS, and as hinted in my last post, I will use this milestone to reflect.

When I look back I see a few themes over these 1500 days – hiring, inspiring, building, and mastering.

Today, I’ll go deeper into hiring ….


I’ve done a lot of hiring, having participated in over 250 hiring events, ranging from initial conversations to interview loops and related debriefs. I really like this part of my role, especially when we discover those ‘hidden gems’ who may have been overlooked in the past. I wont cover the hiring process, but if curious, have a look at a breakdown on fact of the day1.

As part of the interview process, I ask candidates if they have any questions, and over time these questions tend to be quite similar, so for the benefit of future candidates who are doing research, I will provide my answers to these frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the hope that I get some different questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Day in the life of SA

Most Common Question

There’s not a typical day, but in the week, we see the following split

  • team meetings reviewing the past week and preparing for the coming week (10%)
  • prep for customer meetings ; meeting w/ customers ; meeting followups (70%)
  • sharpening the saw, making time each week to keep learning (20%)

First 6 months  / Next 6 months

I tell prospective candidates that takes a good 12 months in the role to understand the role, which invariably leads to this question.

New starters have a on-boarding plan that has a set of milestones – first day, first week, first month etc. This is put together by the hiring manager based on the new starter’s past experience and recommended best practices for the role. The expectation is that their first period is all about learning, then it’s about putting the skills into practice.

It’s like learning to drive a car – you need to learn the road rules, you get your L (learner) plate and you get to practice driving with a licensed driver or instructor by your side, then you do a driving test to get your P (provisional / probationary) plate which means you can go out on the road on your own.

Cultural differences b/w MSFT, TLS, AMZN

Another common question once folks learn about my backgroundThis is a tricky one to navigate, so I preempt the reply that it’s based on what I have experienced.

MSFT : lots of smart people, passionate about technology BUT as an organisation more focused on competitors. During my time(from 1991 to 2013), it was almost always about responding to competitors and competitive challenges. When there was no competitor, things languished BUT when there were competitive forces, the teams were united. I always felt MSFT was more of a “fast-follower”

TLS : 100+ year old Telco. Lot’s of smart and passionate people, but also an example of the 5 Monkeys Experiment

AMZN : One of the things that makes Amazon peculiar, and which I can really relate are the Leadership Principles (LPs) which are used everyday whether hiring, discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem.

What do I like about AWS

I’m a Passionate Advocate for the Australian Software Ecosystem, believing that “bits” trump “atoms” as it allows Australia digital companies to compete & excel globally, and a big believer that abundance will allow us all to live better lives. What does this mean? Simply put local customers can use the cloud to go global, which means the “Tyranny of Distance” is less of an issue since digital (bits) moves faster than things (atoms).

Where better to help customers in Australia (and New Zealand) do this than with AWS?

Four years have flown by

This week I passed my 4 years at AWS, and what an interesting time it’s been. Since my last post, we still find ourselves in a global pandemic, dealing with the latest variant which continues to impact our lives. All the members of the household have had their 2 vaccines and have been recently boosted, so we’re doing our bit BUT living in Melbourne, one of the most locked down cities in the world, has been tough. On the plus side, I did get myself a cool new t-shirt to remember the experience.

So, we find ourselves at the start of 2022, with another mountain to climb, memories to be made, goals to be met (and exceeded) and ready to face whatever challenges the year ahead will put in front on us.

I am thankful I have a comfy spot at home to get my work done, adequate bandwidth, walking distance to some of the best coffee in Melbourne, and access to plenty of snacks.

I recently got a replacement laptop, which is a big improvement over my trusty old friend who developed a swollen battery and was starting to run out of steam. By the end of it all, the old laptop was being held together by a whole bunch of stickers.

I’ve got more to say, but I’ll save that for when I reach my 1500 days milestone – which isn’t that far.

1000 days (+ 205 days WFH)

A little milestone just crept up, 1000 days at AWS.

Today also marks 205 days since I’ve been in “Work From Home” (WFH) mode. My little workspace has served me well so far.

My Home Workspace
My Home Workspace

Another milestone I’m closing in on, is 200 hiring events during my time at AWS. It hasn’t just been for roles in my team, as we do support hiring different roles across the business. I’ve met terrific folks throughout the process and have been so happy to seem many of them join AWS. Since we’ve been in “lockdown”, a number of folks have join the team and it’s been so good to see them jump inget on with the job despite the rather weird situation of working from home. We have had to adjust how we communicate as a team, but I feel it’s brought us all closer together.

One other little milestone is to do with collecting little “achievement” icons. I’ve got a bunch of them, and my t-shirt is a reminder that I will go to great lengths for my “flair”

When I wrote about my 700 Day milestone, I had no idea what 2020 would have in store.

What! A! Crazy! Year! and we’re still not done.

So, 1000 days down, but it’s still day one.

700 Days with an unexpected twist!

Today is my 700th day at AWS. Nice round number eh? 1 year, 11 months since I started! The team has grown, with new hires in Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane (and Perth).  It’s been a wild ride, or should I say a wild ryde 🦄.

Now, the twist is that my daughter Emma is starting today at AWS as an intern!


Photographic proof – It’s Emma at AWS

If someone had told me that would be the case 700 days ago, I would not have believed it!  In retrospect it’s kinda obvious that this was going to happen.

emmaandjeff (2)

When Jeff met Emma

I’m sure she will have a lot to say about her day – but I just couldn’t resist a post to celebrate both milestones, as I join an exclusive group.


500 (aka D) days

frankarr 2019

Today I mark 500 days at AWS.  Why D? Well that’s 500 in roman numerals – Duh!

Those 500 days have really flown by.

I continue to lead a team of Solutions Architects who help customers on their cloud journey,  and my scope increased in 2019, so I now also lead teams based in NSW & QLD.

We recently held AWS Sydney Summit and I was a guest on AWS Summit Live on Twitch in which I was interviewed by the team about the upcoming Build Track which I curated together with Kris Howard (who was also one of the hosts for AWS Summit Live)


Still getting the hang of what it means to be an Amazonian. There’s a lots to learn.

If I were to use the “hero journey” to describe my time so far, I’ve definitely crossed the threshold into the “Extraordinary world”


So as I continue my journey, the thing that will help push me through those inevitable challenges is knowing that I am helping advance the cause for the local industry, helping Australian companies embrace the opportunities of the cloud, and see them compete & excel globally. I love meeting and helping local companies who have global customers, delivering great value, and providing employment opportunities for skilled local folks.

100 days, but still Day One

I’ve just hit 100 days with AWS.

It’s been a mix of on-boarding, travel, working with my team, learning what needs to be done, and culminated with a few days last week at AWS Summit in SYDNEY


Looking back at my TripIt stats, it kinda says it all…..

Trips 8
Days 38
Distance 54,682 km
Cities 7
Countries 4


Since starting the new role, I’ve been on the look out for a new avatar.  I had to leave my old ones, and I had been using a temporary one which I kinda liked (can anyone guess where it’s from?)

First Avatar Last Temporary

So I need a new look.

I had a bright idea — I went to fiverr, and using the same photo, I got a few different avatars. I tried Simpsons style, Archer style, flat style, shadowy, artistic, cartoony, but I must admit I really really love the Bob’s Burger style – So that’s the one in the top left…  My family reckons is a good likeness too – it’s a keeper. Expect to see it everywhere


And speaking of seeing it everywhere, I helped designed a burger for Royal Stacks (Yes i know right).  It’s called the QWERTY, and available only for the month of April! The burger is pretty awesome if I say so myself 🙂 #AchievementUnlocked 🍔

Now, one of the things that has really struck me is that Amazon, and therefore AWS, is that it is a bit “peculiar”. I like that, maybe because I’m a bit peculiar too. I’ve always felt like the odd one out. Now I feel I’m among “my” people, and the things that really contributes to this is the collection of Amazon Leadership Principles – they are not just a sign on a wall, but something used every day at Amazon. Some of these principles represent things that are inside a person (call it values if you will) and some are learnt behaviours. As a result, there’s a common sense of purpose, a common language, a virtual shorthand that unites everyone.

100 days down. Onwards to the next 100 days, and then the next after that. But, as they say at Amazon, it’s always Day One!


Leaving Telstra

It’s been 1430 days or thereabouts, since I started my adventure with Telstra.
First with the API strategy, then with the Innovation Ecosystem System engagement within the CTO; not to mention my “side hustles” with muru-d, codeclub, telstra foundation, techfugees, CSIRO ON:, Austrade,  countless hack events and I even featured as a guest on a podcast
I also got to meet some great people, work with some amazing folks, inspire some young folks, and I got to help bootstrap things that will lead to great change. I really feel like there was a greater purpose to what we were doing.
If I were to summarize the last 1430 days or so, it’s would be about community, collaboration & cultural change, underpinned with a strong desire of “giving back”, or as my dear friend Annie Parker keeps remind us all, we got to #payitforward.
Now it’s time to start a new adventure. Yes, that’s right, time for a new avatar!
I’ll be joining the local AWS team in Melbourne. I’m heading back to the world of software, leading a team, made up of folks who love what they do, with a singular purpose, underpinned by a set of powerful leadership principles (if you haven’t seen Amazon Leadership Principles, check them out).
Since I am still passionate about the Australian tech ecosystem. I want to see more of the likes of Envato, Red Bubble, Culture Amp, 99designs, Drawboard, spring up and go forward to take on the world. I also want to see more of the great research at our universities be unleashed onto the world and commercialised through programs such as CSIRO’s ON:, and university programs such as the delightfully named TRaM (Translating Research at Melbourne). And fortunately for me, I will still be in a position to be involved.
Speaking of taking on the world,  I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Austrade by participating with the Landing Pads program. I have been a member of the assessment panel this past year, and it’s been both an honour and a highlight to be part of the program.  I even got to host a few info session about BerlinSan Fran.
Now, I always had an inkling I would be back with a Seattle based software company, and I’ll be joining many of my former colleagues who have made the move from MSFT on the east side, to AWS on the west side – it’s just taken me a bit longer. I’ll digress for a little story, 4 years ago right after leaving Microsoft, I did interview with AWS, but the Telstra offer came first. Fast forward 4 years, and when I got my recent AWS offer, the letter referenced my OLD address from 4 years ago.   Yes, I know!
So, to recap – leaving Telstra. Starting at AWS.
Onwards to 2018!

1337 d4y5 47 73l57r4


It’s been 1337 days since i started at Telstra, to be part of the team working on the API Strategy and it feels appropriate on this 1337 d4y5 1337 d4y5 47 73l57r4 to see the next chapter of the API work be written, with Steve Cooper, aka @DeveloperSteve coming onboard to take this to the next level as the API and Platform Evangelist at Telstra. Welcome Steve – looking forward to seeing things move ahead.

Back in September 2016, I moved into a new role as a member of the Innovation team at Telstra, in the Chief Technology Office, located in the Gurrowa Innovation Lab in Melbourne.

Well a lot has happened in those 12 months! We built a new team, re-launched the lab with a new sense of purpose & vigor, and began to inspire the next generation

We also hosted many events, and lucky for me, I was able to capture a “moment” of just some of these

I also got more connect with the ecosystem and was invited to contribute via a number of initiatives…

It’s been a full 12 months, with a lot more to come

3 years on, break out the leather, crystal or glass

Each year I do a little retrospective post marking my work anniversary, and today I it’s time to continue the tradition.
First up here’s some of those previous posts covering my time at Telstra
During the last 12 months, I’ve gone from working on the Telstra API Strategy to moving to the Innovation team, in the Chief Technology Office.
Along the way, I picked up new duties and am responsible for people again.   I really like being a “people leader”, helping develop, coach, mentor, inspire. I even had a ‘grad’ to tend to and Serina (aka gilly) has been absolute delight. Maybe you have read some of her stories — GovHack 2016My week with … A botTechfugees for Young people: #hack4refugeesA world of code. Her time with me is coming to an end, so I wish Serina all the best with the next step of her career.
I really like working with grads, and since Telstra has a well structured graduate program I look forward to contributing to that.
Something else I like, is being involved with Muru-D, and last year #SYD3 was full of amazing young companies. I got to work closely with Simpla and Cuberider – seriously, how amazing was it to see Cuberider send Australia’s first payload to the ISS!!  I was involved in the recent SYD4 bootcamp and look forward to seeing the next batch come through! And what a legacy Annie Parker is leaving behind, but can’t wait to see what Lighthouse becomes!
There’s a bit of theme – one of nurturing, mentoring, curating, advising & inspiring and these are all the things that get me going and inspire me. So, can’t complain about that!
Oh and the leather, crystal, glass reference – it’s the suggested three year anniversary gifts

We Want You! Hustler, Hacker, Hipster


I just passed my 90 days in Telstra’s Chief Technology Office (CTO) based out of the Gurrowa Innovation Lab in Melbourne.

It’s been a full-on period which included revisiting our WHY (thank you Simon Sinek)

So now that we have a better idea of our WHY, we’re looking for a few special folks to come join us.

We are on the hunt for a community manager, who will be “our face” to the community. From running tours, to hosting events and making the connections between all the diverse communities that Telstra is part of; and they need a bit of hustle.

We also need an innovation hacker, a cross between a “hacker” and a “hipster”, who can use digital marketing tools and techniques to drive rapid experimentation, which will help test & validate ideas.

These folks will be joining a growing team of entrepreneurial minded people, including Facilitation and Design specialists who believe that by working together, we can discover the insights and technologies that will pay dividends back to Australian businesses, and reaffirm our nation’s position on the world stage as a bold and vital innovator.

So if you think you’re part of this dream team, based in Melbourne, reach out and tell us why.