Inside the Innovator’s Mind: A Conversation with Inho Hwang
Technology is evolving quickly, and to succeed in this industry, you must keep up. But how do you shift from just keeping up to excelling and innovating?
Find out in our new series, “Inside the Innovator’s Mind.” Here, we’ll interview some of today’s leading technical thinkers and doers to learn where they find their motivation, how they stay ahead of the technology curve, and how they approach problem solving — all while keeping an eye on innovation.
For this segment of Inside the Innovator’s Mind, we interviewed Inho Hwang, a senior solutions architect with Rackspace Technology in Singapore. Read on to learn what inspires him to innovate and what he likes most about working with customers.
How do you find time to innovate?
As a solutions architect, I am often given requests from customers that push me to be innovative. For me, innovation happens almost spontaneously and can be triggered by almost anything. For example, while chatting with a colleague, I may get an idea that could be adopted into the solution that I am building or even researching at home during my free time. There isn’t a specific time set aside. Instead, I believe innovation comes naturally.
How do you keep up with new technologies?
Keeping up with new technology is a requirement for being a successful solutions architect. I need to be able to provide guidance and advice to customers as an expert in multiple technologies. Reading and studying are tasks that I do whenever I have free time, both during business and non-business hours.
In today's ever-changing IT landscape, there are vast domains of technologies to learn and understand, so listening to customers’ needs helps narrow down and prioritize for me which technologies to upskill on. My current focus areas include containerization and DevOps — priorities that several of my customers have.
Who or what inspires you?
Doing my job inspires me! The level of satisfaction I get when architecting the best solutions for customers, participating closely during implementations and seeing my solutions go live successfully provide the biggest inspirational and motivational experiences for me. I get to see and learn so much from both internal and external members of the project, sharing ideas on new ways of doing things. And I get to see different perspectives from different individuals.
What is your approach to solving big problems?
I usually find a place that provides me with absolute silence, often the study room in my house. The peace of mind that I get from a noise-free environment helps me think and focus on the particular problem. I will often have multiple scenarios in my head with different solutions to tackle the issue, and the silence allows me to think through the variables and choose the best possible solution.
How do you manage failure?
Nobody is perfect, and we all encounter failures often in our lives. We learn the most from our mistakes and failures, but it does not mean that one can take chances without good preparation beforehand. As long as I feel confident that I have done my best to prepare, then I would proceed to the next step even if it means risking failure — because I know I will learn something from it. And I’ll also share the experience as an opportunity to educate others on my team.
Getting to know you
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was always fascinated with computer hardware and software since I was young, so it was natural that I pursued a diploma and degree in IT with the hope of landing a job in the IT industry.
What do you do now?
Thankfully, I am working in the frontier of technology, and I am able to provide solutions based on a wealth of experience accumulated from multiple companies. My work allows me to continue learning as new technologies continue to evolve.
Is it what you imagined?
Honestly, during my academic years, I imagined myself becoming a software developer. Recently I have been seeing more and more technologies and services that are based on serverless technology, and I see that the importance of coding knowledge is becoming even more valued. I see myself venturing into that space again, which is also part of my current role.
A day in the life
Do you have a morning routine at work? What is it?
I can’t start my day without a cup of coffee to crank-up my engine, which is followed by looking through my emails to help prioritize tasks for the day.
What types of demands do you encounter?
Generally, my main demands are requests from the sales team for me to attend meetings with customers. It’s during these meetings that I gather requirements and propose solutions.
My other demands would be technical consultation requests from our current customers, especially when they have new projects and are looking for guidance on the best solutions.
And finally, I might be responding to a request for proposal, a request for quotation or a request for information from any one of our larger enterprise customers
Which roles/people do you interact with the most? How important is this interaction?
Internally, I work closely with salespeople, technical account managers and technical operations managers solving technical queries on our existing customer accounts. I also work with our partners like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Specifically, I collaborate with their various departments, such as employees from infrastructure, applications, security, risk and compliance and marketing, to meet their individual needs.
What do you like about working with customers?
I enjoy understanding customers’ needs in different industries, and also learning about their pain points and challenges, and then using my knowledge to solve these, while also alleviating any concerns they may have.
What’s the most challenging part of your day?
The most challenging part of my day is when there are multiple high priority requests for proposals coming in at the same time, and having to instantaneously prioritize and complete them in the given timeframe.
What’s the highlight of your day?
For me, the highlight of my day is when I sense I’ve provided a ‘wow’ moment to customers during an initial pre-sales engagement, which leaves them with a good impression and opens the door for the next conversation.