December 1, 2021

Partners@CS101: Meet Head of Solutions Architect from Alibaba Cloud, Steve Chen


We are proud to partner with some of the world’s most innovative technology companies to ensure that CS101 provides learners with the skills necessary to succeed in the digital economy. Our Partners@CS101 series will uncover bright, professional talents with various backgrounds and expertise. Whether you are exploring potential career pathways, curious about the evolving tech world or just need some advice - hear from these experts!

This week we’d like to introduce to you: Alibaba Cloud. Founded in 2009, Alibaba Cloud is a global leader in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, providing services to thousands of enterprises, developers, and government organisations in more than 200 countries and regions. Committed to the success of its customers, Alibaba Cloud provides reliable and secure cloud computing and data processing capabilities as a part of its online solutions.

Meet Steve Chen, the Head of Solutions for Alibaba Cloud, ANZ region. Steve graduated from Tongji University in 2002 with Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Technology and in 2006, graduated from Monash University with Master’s Degree in Network Computing with First Class Honours in Network Security. Today, we’ll discover a little more about his passion and his Alibaba Cloud journey so far.

Tell me about your role at Alibaba Cloud. What do you do?

I am the Head of Solutions Architects for the ANZ region. The role encompasses three main areas:

Firstly, I support the sales team across particular sectors, offering customised solutions for customers across the region. This involves design, architecture and implementation with relevant testing. Secondly, I support the broader business of consulting for the enterprise architecture design of the Alibaba Cloud portfolio. Lastly, I collaborate and liaise with my R&D colleagues to help develop and deliver on the future customer needs of our customised products

What were some of the reasons you decided to come to Alibaba Cloud?

Alibaba Cloud is a pioneer in the cloud space in China. When I joined the company, my belief was in line with the company’s philosophy that cloud computing and AI would redefine the way enterprises innovate. 

Alibaba’s vision of making it easy to do business anywhere, especially for SME organisations really resonated with me. Providing elastic infrastructure as a service to organisations regardless of size really enables companies to grow and expand their business. 

What is the most interesting technical challenge Alibaba Cloud is solving?

A broad challenge for organisations today is related to cross border and network issues. This was very evident during the initial stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the education sector. We’ve worked hard to help many educational institutes overcome these issues with solutions to get students back studying again. 

We are also working to develop new machine learning platforms for AI which will have many different applications in the real world. This technology is very challenging as it is evolving rapidly and includes data processing, feature engineering, model training, model prediction, and model evaluation. Our Machine Learning Platform for AI combines all of these services to make AI more accessible than ever. 

What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

We are helping a lot of Australian companies to build up or expand their business in Asia and China through using our global infrastructure to better serve their local customers. 

Building up the technology foundation of a Chinese technology company in a very competitive western market, which is a challenging journey however very exciting.

I am always learning about new cloud technologies and products which are being developed by our R&D team. The industry is very fast paced which is an exciting place to be working in.

What made you choose your career?

I have always been curious about various IT technologies and believe that cloud, big data and AI change the way people work and in their social lives. It is very exciting to be part of this change and have a positive impact on daily lives. Ultimately, I enjoy supporting clients to develop technologies which work towards a better standard of living for people across the world. 

What’s the best career advice or quote you’ve ever received that motivates you?

I have two pieces of advice, one I use for those I am mentoring which is “Find something that you are really passionate about and be part of it, immerse yourself to get the most from it”.

One is an Alibaba proverb and states: “Today is dark, tomorrow is dark, and the day after tomorrow is beautiful; however, most people die tomorrow night, so everyone should not give up today.” This resonated with me as it shows that when there are struggles within a job or project, you can always work through it and come out the other side if you don’t give up. 

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to upskill or re-skill in Computer Science?

The industry is very fast paced and we never stop learning, so to stay ahead of the curve you should always dedicate some time each week or each day to educate yourself with what is new and innovative within the industry. This course is a great way to begin this journey. 

What impact do you expect programs like CS101 to make in closing the skills gap?

I think this is a great way for people to either get back into the field if they have left it for a while or if they are looking for a change of career but feel they don’t have the skills required. The best thing about CS101 is its ability to provide the fundamentals of computer science in a well-balanced course with no prior knowledge. The areas covered from problem solving and computational thinking, through to programming and working with others to design complex software will both enable professional development and deliver improved job prospects for those taking the course. 

What positive impact do you expect programs like CS101 to have on learners from traditional technical backgrounds (i.e., a degree in computer science)?

One of the critical things for anyone learning in a new program or course is the support mechanism. In the case of CS101 this has been well thought out with community-based learning and constant support for those on the program. This Is especially true for those who may not have had this support in previous degrees or studies. It is even more relevant today due to remote learning practices and structures. 

What is an example outcome a learner could expect from completing the CS101 program? (new job, continuing studies, etc)

Those completing the course who are keen to get into a technology role will benefit from a well rounded and thorough course which is not as demanding as a full degree whilst giving enough insight and content for students. It will also be great for those already in IT to enhance skills in particular programming languages, design, testing, logic and thinking. 

Looking to learn more about the world of Computer Science and CS101? Download our Course Syllabus below for a preview: