Employee Spotlight: Clustrix Senior Technical Support Engineer Rupert Harwood

We’ll admit it: One of our favorite employee success stories here at Clustrix almost never took place.

Meet Senior Technical Support Engineer Rupert Harwood who, about four years ago, came to Clustrix and experienced—as he described—one of the worst interviews he ever had.

“I absolutely bombed it, and didn’t get the position,” he explained when we sat down to chat with him as part of our ongoing employee spotlight series.

But then, a week later, an odd thing happened: Clustrix called back. Another position had opened up within the company, and the team thought he would be a great fit.

What happened next? Harwood accepted the position, held it for six months, and eventually was promoted—to the position he had originally interviewed for. Fast forward to today, and he is holding down the technical support department as a senior staff member and one of the most valued members of the squad.

While it may seem like a roundabout start, the hiring process he went through is reflective of the company’s unique approach to problem solving which attracted him to Clustrix in the first place—and is one of the main reasons why he is still working here and excited about what he is doing.

“It’s a very flexible organization,” he said. “There are a lot of very smart people working here, all with the ability to see different solutions to problems and apply them in ways that end up working. And everyone has a say in solving problems. I know if I bring a problem or suggestion to the VP of engineering, he’ll give it full weight and consider it because he trusts that I’m bringing it to him for a good reason.”

Harwood spoke to the unique way that problems are solved at Clustrix.

“There is no Googling answers here,” he explained. “The product is deeply technical. If you get stuck on a problem, you have to seek out someone who is a subject matter expert. So you end up learning about the product and finding a new solution rather than regurgitating someone else’s solution. It’s challenging, but very fulfilling.” This constant cycle of learning and solving problems makes a “typical day” hard to pin down.

“It’s more like a research lab,” Harwood explained. “In support, we deal directly with customers, and when they have problems, it’s up to us to figure out the solutions. No matter the difficulty we work to get to the bottom of every issue and won’t stop until we do. That’s something I really like about my team.”

Indeed, going the extra mile for customers is something that Clustrix staff members take to heart—particularly those in technical support.

In Harwood’s words, there’s a certain amount of pride in watching the sun come up while on a conference call with a team of lead developers who are all working together to provide customer support.

What’s noteworthy, however, is the fact that the problems the team is trying to solve are different from those at most other technology companies—in other words, they are “not sexy,” Harwood said.

“This is not a flashy new application that someone came up with and is looking to bring to market,” he said. “We’re working on deeply scientific problems that so far, nobody has really been able to solve.”

At a certain point, in other words, a business will outgrow its existing database solution. And when this happens, it’s not always possible to invest in a solution like Oracle which can be prohibitively expensive—especially for a startup operation.

“What we’re working on is fast, scalable and readily available for average businesses that do not have the budgetary allowance for something like Oracle,” he said.

Does this sound like a product that you would like to work on? Learn more about how you can join the Clustrix team.