Meet the Grafana Labs team: Heds Simons, a Grafana, Loki, and Prometheus power user turned solutions engineer
As Grafana Labs continues to grow, we’d like you to get to know our team members. Check out the latest of our Friday team profiles.
Name: Heds Simons
Current location/time zone
My family and I emigrated to Canada from the U.K. in early January, and are now based in Metchosin on Vancouver Island. I’m pretty far west and work on Pacific Standard Time.
What is your GitHub handle?
My GitHub handle is hedss.
What do you do at Grafana Labs?
I’m lucky enough to be a Solutions Engineer. These are customer-facing engineers who partner with an Account Executive to determine the requirements and pain that a potential customer is going through, then identify ways that Grafana Labs products can remove that pain. They partner with the potential customer to design a solution for them (hence Solutions Engineer!), using their “power user” expertise with Grafana Labs products to greatly improve the experience the customer has.
A Solutions Engineer wears a number of hats: An average day might see you writing a blog post on a particular topic; talking to potential customers and running a product trial for them; liaising with the engineering or support teams to ensure that feature requests are gathered or issues resolved; or working on honing your product skills.
I became greatly motivated to join the Grafana Labs team after using Grafana, Prometheus, and Loki whilst leading a small SRE team, which helped me fully understand their potential! This is my first Solutions Engineer role, having been an engineer for over two decades, and I’m really enjoying it.
What open source projects do you contribute to?
I’ve contributed a lot to the balena OSS IoT ecosystem (partly because I was a former employee!), which is part of the 2020 GitHub Arctic Code collection. I’ve also been working on an IoT system for monitoring beehives (although these repos are currently private), which I’m hoping to make OSS later in the year.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m an avid fan of games, be it board, video or tabletop RPG, but I also enjoy hiking and canoeing with my family. I’m the main cook in our household, so I like to experiment in the kitchen with new ideas. Finally I’m a very keen apiarist (bee keeper), although I wasn’t able to bring my bee colonies with me to Canada, so I’m currently helping friends in the area build their own colonies up.
What’s your favorite new gadget or tech toy?
I’ve just bought a Lello Musso Lussino ice cream maker. I’ve been making ice cream, sherbet, and sorbets for about six years now (and have become pretty good at it), and I finally decided to take the plunge and get a machine that would let me up my game. It includes a compressor that freezes the mixing bowl, so there’s no waiting overnight for a food-processor ice-cream attachment to get cold enough for mixing. The only problem is we’re now running out of freezer space, as I’ve been making so much!
What do you do to get “in the zone” when you work?
A Solutions Engineer usually attends a lot of meetings with customers in their average day, so they have to be pretty organized. Being able to ensure I’ve prepped for the next day the night before, and listening to some ambient music whilst going through emails and Slack messages first thing in the morning, help me get into a “happy place” where I know exactly when and what I have to do. A good day is when I can get to the end of it knowing everything went as planned!
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to talk to lots of interesting people about their infrastructure and architectures, and being able to suggest ways to help them and make their lives better. It’s a great feeling to help a customer solve their issues!
What’s your favorite food?
Thai green chicken curry.
What’s the last thing you binge-watched?
My son’s recently become old enough to watch through the first six Star Wars movies, so we binge-watched them in a couple of weekends!
What superpowers do you wish you had (or do you have!)?
I’m really quite happy as I am!
What’s the last thing you’ve gotten off your bucket list?
Emigrating to Canada!