Inside Refined: Q&A with Mahmud, our Support Engineer – Advancing your career in tech support

Today, we're thrilled to bring you an exclusive conversation with one of our very own Support Engineers, Mahmud Hossain. This Q&A post aims to give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a Support Engineer at Refined, and is targeted towards anyone interested in joining our team or learning more about what it takes to succeed in this role.

Right now: we’re looking for a Support Engineer to join our team.

Let's dive in and explore Mahmud's insights on his role, his experiences, and why he loves being part of the Refined team.

10 questions & answers with Mahmud on working as a Support Engineer at Refined

#1 Can you tell us a bit about your background: what led you to become a Support Engineer and join Refined?

M: I hail from Dhaka, Bangladesh, where my journey as a Support Engineer began at a large corporation. I've always had a strong sense of community and a knack for communication, which made this role a perfect fit. My passion lies in troubleshooting - it's something that truly excites me.

I served as a Support Engineer for around four and a half years, progressing from a junior to a more senior role. Then life took a turn and brought me to Tampere, Finland, to pursue my master's degree. I've been living here for two years now.

“I yearned to continue helping people and contributing to a community. I was on the lookout for multicultural companies where English was an accepted language. That’s when I stumbled upon Refined.”

While studying, I yearned to continue helping people using technology. I was on the lookout for multicultural companies where English was an accepted language, as I didn’t know Finnish back then.

That's when I stumbled upon a job ad for a Support Engineer position at Refined. It instantly resonated with me - it felt like the place I wanted to be. I joined Refined on May 23rd in 2022, initially working part-time as my studies were still ongoing. Fast forward two years, I'm still here, thoroughly enjoying my role as a Support Engineer.

#2 Could you describe a typical day in your role as a Support Engineer at Refined?

M: Absolutely, my day usually begins with a good cup of coffee. One of the things I love about working at Refined is the flexibility and freedom I have in choosing which issues to work on - it keeps things interesting.

To start off, I check my individual queue for any pending tickets from the previous day that require my attention. If the queue is calm, I move on to the new tickets raised by customers.

How I prioritize these tickets depends largely on their criticality. Blockers, for instance, get immediate attention. I then work through the other tickets starting with the next most urgent.

#3 What do you enjoy most about your job, and what is the key factor that keeps you motivated?

M: I derive immense satisfaction from solving interesting problems. Refined, being an Atlassian software, presents an array of fascinating use cases. You never know what you are going to get. It's not uncommon for me to encounter tickets that reveal possibilities we weren't even aware of.

“Refined’s use cases aren't limited to just four or five scenarios - we're talking about hundreds of them, some of which are beyond imagination.”

This role constantly pushes me to learn new things, which I find very stimulating. But what truly sets working at Refined apart is the supportive culture. Regardless of rank or position, everyone is always ready to help and share their knowledge. We're all open to learning, whether it's minor details or major insights. This culture of knowledge sharing is a key factor that keeps me motivated and engaged in my role.

Throughout the day, if I need assistance, I reach out to my colleagues, team lead, or the developers. The collaborative environment here is truly one of our biggest strengths.

When I engage with the developers, I first read through the customer's description of the issue and try to replicate it. If we can replicate, we might file a bug report or raise a feature request if the feature isn't supported yet. In situations where replication is not possible and I need more information or technical help, I ping the developers on the ticket. I provide them with a summary of the issue, the steps I've taken, and where I'm stuck so they can jump right into the problem-solving process.

#4 How have you seen Refined, a growing SaaS company change and evolve since you started working here?

M: Over my tenure at Refined, I've seen a great amount of growth and evolution. One thing that stands out is our "iterate to success" attitude. We're constantly thinking about changes that need to happen and implementing small tests or iterations to see if they prove beneficial. For example, we might introduce automation into our daily workflow, test it for a week, and then decide whether to extend its use or refine it further.

Our core values have always been centered around the customer. It's crucial for us not to let customers feel neglected - we do our best to be there for them at all times. This customer-first approach which is also one of our core values at Refined, has remained constant, even as we continually iterate for success.

In the past two years, our support team has not only grown in size but also become more structured and organized. We've experimented with different approaches to find what works best for us and our customers. So yes, there have been a lot of changes, but they've all been part of our journey towards becoming a more efficient and customer-focused organization.

#5 How did these changes feel from your perspective as a Support Engineer?

M: As with any change, there are positives and negatives. On most days, my day-to-day activities proceed smoothly, without much pressure in terms of workload. However, there are times when we experience a surge in tickets. During these peak periods, it's crucial for everyone to maintain the workflow to prevent it from becoming overwhelming.

One significant change that I've appreciated is how we've improved our distribution of responsibilities. Everyone on the team takes their share of tickets, creating a balanced workload. This approach not only fosters responsibility but also ensures that everyone's contribution adds up to something greater.

So, while there can be challenges with the ebb and flow of workload, the evolution towards a more structured and balanced approach has been a positive shift from my perspective as a Support Engineer.

#6 Could you share some challenges that you often face as a team and how you deal with them?

M: One of the main challenges we face as a team is managing spikes in ticket volume. These aren't common occurrences, but when they do happen, they can feel overwhelming. This is particularly true after holiday periods when customers return from vacations, or when there are significant changes on Atlassian's end, which directly impact us.

For instance, if one of Atlassian's products is reaching end of life, we anticipate a surge in tickets as users migrate. In such cases, our approach is to prepare ourselves to handle the influx and 'put out the fire', so to speak.

While these situations can be challenging, they eventually calm down with time. To manage such scenarios, we adopt an 'all hands on deck' approach, where everyone pitches in to help clear the queue. This collective effort helps in slowing down the spike and restoring balance.

#7 As someone who might be transitioning from another SaaS company, what should they expect when joining Refined?

M: When joining Refined, one can expect a friendly, helpful, and welcoming team. We value freedom and flexibility in our work approach, giving you the autonomy to manage your tasks and tickets.

We also have a strong support system in place for newcomers. Whether you need assistance understanding a task or navigating through our processes, there's always someone ready to help.

For instance, we recently had a team member transition into the support engineer role in our Brazil team. They spent their initial weeks familiarizing themselves with our documentation and onboarding process, gradually easing into their new role. During this period, they had the support of an 'onboarding buddy' - a seasoned support engineer who guided them through the process.

When I joined, my buddy was Benjamin, who was a great single point of contact for any questions or issues I faced. This buddy system really helps to smooth the transition and get comfortable in the new role. So, anyone transitioning from another SaaS company to Refined can look forward to a supportive and flexible working environment.

#8 What are the key skills or experiences that you believe are crucial for succeeding in your role at Refined?

M: There are a few key technical and soft skills that are crucial for success in my role at Refined.

On the technical side, knowledge about Atlassian ecosystem helps a lot. This includes understanding how on-premises, data center, and cloud solutions work, particularly their backend operations in general. Network-related knowledge and familiarity with API/backend communication and browser dev tools are also beneficial. Since Refined is a SaaS app built on top of Atlassian, some customization knowledge, such as HTML and CSS, can come in handy. Although I had some knowledge about Atlassian when I joined, it wasn't extensive. However, with curiosity and a willingness to learn, one can acquire this knowledge on the job.

As for soft skills, curiosity, resilience, and communication are key. Being curious and willing to tackle any challenge that comes your way is vital. Communication, particularly written communication, plays a critical role in our day-to-day work. It's important to be respectful, sympathetic, and adapt your tone according to the situation when interacting with customers.

In summary, a blend of technical know-how, a learning mindset, and strong communication skills are crucial for succeeding in a support role at Refined.

#9 How have you grown as a professional at Refined and what kind of support have you received for evolving?

A: My professional growth at Refined has been great, thanks to the numerous learning opportunities and support provided.

Our support team emphasizes continuous learning and skill enhancement. We have access to online courses that help us expand our knowledge and stay updated with the latest industry trends. These courses can cover various areas, from technical aspects related to our work to communication skills.

Every two weeks, we have 'knowledge sharing' sessions, where senior team members share insights and information that can benefit the whole team. These sessions often focus on topics related to Atlassian or our work processes and provide a platform for learning from each other's experiences.

These are great ways to upskill and stay abreast of the latest developments in our field. In summary, Refined has provided excellent support for my professional evolution, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.

#10 Do you have any advice for someone looking to join Refined as a Support Engineer? Who would you recommend it to and who wouldn’t?

M: If you're considering a role as a Support Engineer at Refined, there are a few key characteristics that can contribute to your success.

Firstly, strong communication skills are vital. You should be able to articulate your ideas clearly and effectively. Secondly, curiosity and a willingness to learn new things will serve you well in this role. Don't be afraid to explore and try new things.

Another important characteristic is being a team player. At Refined, we thrive as a strong, collaborative team, and each member's contribution is valued. So, if you enjoy working as part of a team and believe in the philosophy of 'sharing is caring', then you'll fit right in.

On the other hand, if you're not comfortable with regular communication or prefer working solo, this role might not be the best fit for you. Our support team is built on open communication and teamwork, and these aspects are integral to our work culture.

In conclusion, if you're a communicative, curious, and collaborative individual with an interest in software, a role as a Support Engineer at Refined could be a great opportunity for you! Explore the open position here and apply.

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