A bit of career news from yours truly

By Dann Berg

Published or Updated on

Datadog Holiday Party 2019

A little over four years ago I got an email from a recruiter at Datadog. At the time, I was working at a programmatic ad-buying company called MediaMath, helping build out its data centers. This was my first job in tech, and I knew I wanted to continue working in the industry but was spending a lot of time wondering what my future might actually look like.

My role at MediaMath was fairly bespoke, so it wasn’t easy to translate the role to a different company. I wasn’t able to find a single job listing that matched my experience and interests. I was considering pure sysadmin or network admin training, but it seemed to me that the cloud was really the future, and I needed to focus my attention and training there.

The email from the Datadog recruiter caught me off guard, because it was an opportunity that 1) matched my skills and interests perfectly and 2) seemed too good to be true.

Back in April 2018, before I even knew the term FinOps, here’s how the CloudOps Analyst role was described:

We’re looking for someone to work directly with our CTO/Cofounder and bridge the gap between Engineering and BizOps by doing what it looks like you do best - developing cost-saving and capacity planning strategies, and building out a full CloudOps Analytics team.

It sounded perfect and I jumped at the opportunity. After a rigorous interview process, they offered me the role.

The four years that followed were some of the most challenging, educational, and rewarding of my life. I helped establish actionable visibility into spend, a standardized Software Capitalization process, a weekly Reserved Instance analysis and purchase cadence, and a engineering-wide cost-improvement tracking program (to name a few).

I also worked closely with Finance to help ready the company for its 2019 Initial Public Offering. The week that Datadog went public was also the same week that my very first full-length play The Floorshow made its production debut in New York City. I’ll never forget it.

Early on at Datadog, I discovered the fine work of the FinOps Foundation, which was working to carve out a name and space for the new field I found myself working in. Their standards and best practices helped me implement quality internal programs. I’ve also gotten more involved in the Foundation over the years, hosting the NYC FinOps Meetup monthly since August 2020, and achieving the FinOps Certified Practitioner certification.

What started as a team of one (me) grew to two and then three and four. Then a re-org, and a new engineering director lead to even faster team growth. The group was focusing and deeper and deeper problems, and becoming seamless in execution.

It was amazing to watch this little practice mature and grow. But the draw of the startup world kept calling to me.

The opportunity at FullStory came out of no where for me, but immediately caught my eye. Operating in the world of FinOps, I get a lot of emails from recruiters, but they’re all fairly generic. The role that FullStory was trying to fill matched my experience to a tee, and sat as a function of the Technical Program Management team, which seemed to me to be a very smart place to position it within a company.

As I learned more about the company, and about the people, it seemed more like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I spent a lot of time thinking about my own career aspirations. Where I’ll be in five or ten years isn’t totally clear, but I’d love to be working in the startup world in some way, possibly as an advisor or similar role. And it just made sense to join another private company to really get even more experience there.

In many ways, FullStory as a company feels a lot like Datadog did when I first joined, in terms of size, culture, and opportunity. I’ll again be the first hire focusing solely on cloud costs, and I just think it’s fun to build out a FinOps practice from scratch. I’m looking forward to seeing what new challenges await me when I try my hand at this the second time.

The decision to leave Datadog and join FullStory has been bittersweet, because I’ve been working with some crazy smart people on really interesting problems. But I think it was the right one. And I’m excited for the future.

I want to thank everyone I worked with at Datadog. Especially Alexis, Chandru, Rob, Brendan, Dan, Tim, Sarah, and Dana. Also, a special thank you to my loving wife Avi, who has the amazing ability to help turn my sometimes-unfocused ideas about the future into solid plans and action.

Here’s to new adventures.

On Making Big Career Changes
Ask a Finops Practitioner: When to prioritize cost?
Creating a FinOps practice as the first practitioner