Working at New Zealand’s largest tech employer might sound daunting, but Graduate Cloud Engineer Chris Vailalo says it means there are many people to learn from.

As well as having lots of people, Datacom’s size – with more than 6,300 employees across Australasia and hundreds of customers in the private and public sector – also means there are lots of big projects, which also means plenty of opportunities for employees like Chris to take on new responsibilities and challenges.

“Almost as soon as I started here, I was trusted to work on a big project. It means I’ve jumped in at the deep end, but it has helped me learn a lot in a short space of time,” says Chris.

“Much of what I’ve learnt isn’t just about the tech; it’s about interpersonal skills and relationship building, which is so important if you want to get things done.”

A career in tech wasn’t initially on Chris’s radar, but after working as a library assistant he decided he wanted to broaden his options and he secured a paid digital services intern role with the Reserve Bank through the TupuToa Internship Programme.

Chris then took some papers in Information Security and Assurance at WelTec before securing a 12-week paid internship at Datacom, which he quickly turned into a full-time job by impressing the team with his skills and willingness to learn.

The intern role at Datacom was also facilitated by the TupuToa Internship Programme, which is focused on giving Māori and Pasifika tertiary students professional opportunities in corporate, government and community organisations.

Aside from learning a great deal in his new role, Chris says he has a new understanding of what technology can do.

“It’s easy to think a job in IT is all about technology and systems, but the bigger picture is that you are helping customers protect their business with better security, and you are helping them save money and work more flexibly so they can grow faster.”

The learning hasn’t stopped now Chris has joined Datacom: he’s currently studying towards his AWS Sys Ops Administrator Associate Certification to grow his cloud software skills.

“Professional development is encouraged and your course costs are reimbursed, plus you are given a financial reward if you pass.”

Managing a full-time job with study and all the other parts of life can be challenging, but Chris says it’s about finding balance and identifying priorities.

“Everyone is juggling lots of balls: work, family, friends, relationships and health. Some of those balls are harder to repair if you drop them, so it’s about getting that juggling right.”

“Datacom promotes taking time out when you need it – you need to get the work done but your team is there to support you, and they want to know if things are getting on top of you.”

Photo of Graduate Cloud Engineer Chris Vailalo
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