29 November 2021 From AWS Re/start to Centrica

My journey from retail to technology.

Claire Dillon

Associate IS Solutions Developer

29 November 2021 - 3 min read

AWS Re/Start

At the start of the year, I had a real ambition to change my career. It can be very daunting to essentially start from scratch and what helped me to make that leap was when I discovered AWS Re/start. AWS Re/start

If you’re not familiar with AWS Re/start it’s a 12-week course aimed at the unemployed or underemployed to develop basic technology skills and to prepare you for launching a career within IT, in particular using the AWS cloud. The course leads you into gaining the AWS cloud practitioner certification.

You don’t need any previous experience to take the course, my experience was within the retail industry for the past 13 years. All you need is a keen interest in IT and the ability and drive to learn.

Starting at Centrica

During the AWS Re/start course an employer virtual event was organised to connect employers with potential candidates, which is how I arrived at Centrica.

My role at Centrica is Associate IS Solutions Developer as part of the SRE team. I was very excited to begin this remote role and put into practice some of the things I had learnt during Re/start as well as expanding my knowledge.

I have received such a warm welcome here, meeting colleagues from all levels of the business. So far I have begun training in how to use the CLI, Terraform, Python, preparing for the next AWS associate certification and lots of practice using AWS.

Testing the break glass

One of my first tasks was to test and document the break glass process, this is a method used for gaining emergency access for a user to an AWS account. This may be necessary due to loss of a credentials, accounts being compromised or SSO failure.

The aim was to get into an account with the intention of forgotten password and lost MFA, documenting my steps along the way.

I discovered it is a simple step by step process to recover an account. Which begins with re-setting your root password. The next step is to re-gain access due to lost MFA. This is a 3 step process. Step 1 is verifying the root email address by responding to a link sent to that email address. Phone verification is step 2. A phone call will be made to the contact number that can be found within the account to verify who you are. During testing the phone call, I discovered that it is essential that the contact phone number within each account contains the international dial code for the UK as the phone call comes from the United States. It was also clear that the call needs to be sent to a number that anyone in the team can answer when needed.

This then led me to investigate Microsoft Teams as a solution for having an external phone number attached to several people within the SRE team, a call group. This ensures that all team members can receive the call simultaneously, that way the call never gets missed. Once the phone number has been verified you go to step 3, which unlocks the account for you.

I have now resolved the issue of regaining access to AWS accounts due to lost credentials. After documenting the step- by- step process, the SRE team now runs a weekly fire drill, testing the break glass process on a different account each time.

Something that I have always enjoyed is problem solving and I’m already discovering that this is a large part of being on the SRE team. It’s never going to be easy making a career change, this is just the beginning of my journey but my advice to anyone thinking they can never get into IT, is go for it and make the first step, everyone has to start somewhere.