Rocket Woman 🚀, I guess that's what you can call our Member of the Month for October selected from the customers and partners group. Just reading this article, it’s easy to feel how passionate about work and life overall Marina is.
Passion develops as we learn more about something. We have the power to create motivation in ourselves, and “starting to do” is the first step to achieving it. A strong desire to explore and act is something that @marina_pollehn shows in many areas. Also here, on Community, where she actively helps other Dynatrace users.
I could say more, but I think Marina’s words will speak for themselves best. 😊________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Can you share some details about your past? What is your story, and how it happened that you decided to work in the IT / APM area?
When I was about to graduate high school in Hamburg (Germany), I dreamed of becoming a public sector consultant and evaluating policy making – with the big wish to work for the United Nations or the European Union. In between, I had a few impulsive moments where I almost signed up for the exam to become an air traffic controller – I really did not know where this urge suddenly came from. Looking back – as it is also a form of monitoring – it makes sense to me now 😉.
Other than that, I had a big wish to start with IT as a side hobby, but many of my attempts to join a course or to get started with it did not really work out. In high school, the computer science elective was discontinued in my grade, and attending one at another school was too big of a clash with my timetable. So, after graduating, in line with my public sector consulting goal, I started studying economics in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In my 3rd year of bachelor’s, I signed up for a minor in computer science. I was so passionate about it that I convinced my best friend to sign up for the minor, too. Unfortunately, it was a lottery, and they didn’t have space anymore – so she got in, and I didn’t. I decided to ask her during every break about what they’ve learned, and it only made me more eager to get into IT. At the same time, next to my minor, I joined my university’s ‘Turing Club’ to learn some web development. After finishing my bachelor's, I started with two masters: International Economics and Business Information Management (with a focus on Data Science). At that point, I still saw myself working in economics and saw IT as a cool hobby to have a second master’s in. Well, I was very wrong. After a student job in data engineering at Boskalis (a Dutch maritime engineering company), which only made me more enthusiastic about the field, I started working as a Digital Performance Consultant.
Can you tell us a little bit about your professional life? Where do you work, and what do you do in your job? And how does Dynatrace fit into the picture?
For the last 3 years, I have been working at Eviden (formerly Atos) – a large IT services and consulting company located in Amstelveen (close to the more famous Amsterdam) in the Netherlands. There I started directly as a Digital Performance Management Consultant. We're a full-service provider, which assists customers with their entire monitoring journey – mostly with Dynatrace. This can include configurations, hosting, and consultancy for almost every type of IT landscape – basically anything you can monitor with Dynatrace.
My job consists of a mix of operations and project tasks (usually the onboarding of an entire application including all configurations), ranging from creating metrics and configuring extensions to giving Dynatrace trainings and workshops. Two tasks I really enjoy are coaching new colleagues and helping them with their first steps within Dynatrace and the team, as well as giving demos to new potential customers who are often fascinated with the capabilities of the software.
Another aspect that is especially fun about my job is that I get to speak all three languages (German, Dutch, and English), which I know fluently because I work with different customers from all over the world. I also enjoy how every customer environment and request is different, which gives me the chance to explore as many aspects of Dynatrace as possible. So many that I am now allowed to call myself a certified Dynatrace Professional.
What was the biggest challenge Dynatrace helped you to overcome?
One of the most impressive applications I set up Dynatrace monitoring for was a survey form for uploading COVID test results by the Australian government. The constant global availability of the application was essential to collect COVID data at any time, enable international travel, and avoid user frustration. We tested the availability with multiple synthetic (browser clickpath) monitors at a high frequency and multiple locations. Furthermore, the customer wanted more detailed insights into the bounce rate and drop-off locations. Next to visualizing the expected user journey through the survey with the user action funnel and providing the customer with insights into different failure rate and response time metrics, I also decided to explore the actual user journey further with the Sankey chart. This showed us how and how many users deviated from the expected journey and which application pages they returned to in between. To me, the project was very inspiring due to its social relevance and time criticality. I was impressed with how quickly we could set up the entire Dynatrace monitoring (we had a maximum of two weeks), including everything up to Session Replay, data masking, dashboards, alerting, synthetics, and many more functionalities.
What brought you to our Community? What made you stay? What best advice can you give someone who just started using Community?
Initially, I started out as a silent observer in the Community. If I could not find something specific in the Dynatrace documentation, I would just roam around the Community, and quite often, someone else already had the same question answered. After a year, I came back with my own questions. I still remember that the first question I had was related to ignoring specific types of request errors for web applications.
My advice is to ask whatever is on your mind. I sometimes use the Community to get a second opinion on something.
Also, you don’t need to know every little detail about Dynatrace (trust me, that’s technically impossible) to contribute to the Community. Sometimes something might be very best-practice and normal in your way of working and be completely new to someone else, even if they have been working with Dynatrace way longer than you.
The aspect I love the most is that the Community can be an excellent challenge for yourself. When answering a question, you often need to do some testing on your own or you need to research until you finally find the solution you had hoped for. This keeps me curious and up-to-date.
And – the last piece of advice – make sure you use the product ideas. If I encounter something in Dynatrace which could be done more efficiently I just directly suggest it as a product idea. Dynatrace does a great job at integrating minor improvements very quickly and including other ideas in their long-term strategy, so sharing feedback can really pay off.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know. What is your biggest joy or passion in life?
I am a person with too many hobbies and interests. I would say that dancing is my biggest passion. When I was 13, I started with Ballroom and Latin dancing but paused for 5 years after because my friends quit (biggest regret). When I started university, I signed up for dance classes again, and on the ‘blind date’ night, I met my dance partner, who became a very good friend of mine. Together we danced for 5 years and even went to the Dutch and European student tournaments – some cool memories of dancing 12 hours a day with my feet becoming 2 sizes larger afterwards. Since he moved to London, I have tried different dance styles. I have been learning salsa for a year and since last September, you can find me in an aerial dance studio for 2-5 hours a week enjoying the combination of dance and acrobatics.
If I am not dancing, you can find me in my ‘nerd-mode’ reading pen & paper manuals (some of you might only know it as D&D) and of course, also playing it (VTM and Aborea) online with friends once a month. Besides that, I have an addiction to water sports like SUPping and kayaking. Last year I spent a week traveling through one of the Dutch national parks on a stand-up paddle board, paddling from sunrise until sundown with the most contradicting weather conditions. This taught me that you can fit everything you need in life on a surfboard and that a digital detox once per year is quite healthy for the mind.
What’s one thing on your bucket list? Your dream?
Again, just one big dream or plan would not suit me well – there are simply too many awesome things in life. One big dream, speaking a 3rd language fluently – in my case, Dutch - I made come true over the past 7 years. A lovely next challenge would be learning a Scandinavian language – most likely Danish – as it is my favorite country to travel to.
As a travel goal, Greenland is very high on my list. I would love to plan a kayak trip for multiple weeks, including the Ilulissat Icefjord, and would have high hopes of seeing a musk ox and polar bear in real life – with some healthy distance, preferably. In Canada, I already had the chance to go dog sledding when I was 15. That’s a dream that I would also want to relive in Greenland.
Marina, we can only say continue all the great things you do. With your help, Community users are growing, and as you mentioned, it’s a challenge where you also gain valuable knowledge and experience.