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  1. Blog
  2. Article

Amir Abdel Baki
on 20 June 2024

From support engineering to UX: Piper’s career progression at Canonical

Career progression is crucial to employee engagement and retention. At Canonical, we encourage employees to develop their own personal development journeys,  giving them the chance to apply internally for roles they are passionate about, even if they come from different technical backgrounds. We love seeing our people grow and develop. We believe that when people feel fulfilled, that’s when they do their best work. Today we will be featuring the story of Piper Deck.

Piper is a User Experience designer for Canonical’s LXD (a modern and secure system container and virtual machine manager) helping shape the way LXD solves users’ problems in an intuitive and accessible way. He works with front-end and back-end developers to solve usability problems in both the user interface and command line for LXD. But before he was working on LXD, Piper was part of Canonical’s support engineering team. We asked Piper to tell us more about how that transition happened.

Piper’s career journey with Canonical

When did you start with Canonical and what was your original role?

I joined Canonical in November 2022 as a Technical Support Associate under Support Engineering. My role was to handle support requests from customers, which included diagnosing the issues they were experiencing, advising them on how to fix the problem, reporting bugs on launchpad or GitHub, and escalating cases to other departments when necessary.

What did you switch to and when?

I transferred to the UX Design team in late 2023, and I’m now the UX Designer for LXD. 

What was the reason behind that?

I had studied UX design at university and worked as a freelance UX designer for about a year prior to applying at Canonical. Because of my lack of work experience in UX, I was struggling to find a full-time gig in it. After a friend of mine recommended that I branch out and look into IT jobs, I started applying for various IT support roles at different companies, and Canonical was the one that hired me!

Working in technical support really pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to quickly learn a lot about Canonical’s entire portfolio, as well as the rest of the Linux ecosystem. This was extremely engaging and the knowledge I gained is still really valuable to me, but over time. Whilst I was taking my career in an exciting direction, I began to miss working in UX.

What was the process and how long did it take? 

Luckily, my manager in support engineering was very supportive of my aspirations, since he had actually done the same thing earlier in his career at Canonical. He put me in touch with a UX manager, so that I could chat with them and figure out whether I would be a good fit for the team, and whether there was a product I was well suited for. It turned out that LXD was in need of a designer, and I happened to have a lot of experience using LXD during my year in Support, so it was basically a perfect match.

After that, my support manager let me divide my working hours evenly between Support and Design, so that I and the LXD team could see whether I liked working with them and whether I brought value to the product. After a few months of that, when the LXD team was happy with my work, my manager put in a request for a transfer, our CEO approved it, and I started working full time in UX.

Start-to-finish, from the first day I mentioned I’d be interested in a transfer until the day I officially started reporting to my new team, it took about 5 months.

Do you advise readers to consider a career at Canonical? 

Yes! Canonical is quite an unconventional company, and for me that’s meant an environment that encourages you to think creatively and follow what you’re interested in. No matter who you talk to, everyone you meet here is excited about what they’re doing and enjoys learning new things, and for me it’s really valuable to get to be around people like that.

Join the team 

Career progression is an area that Canonical pays a lot of attention to. Make sure to browse current openings to find the most interesting role for you and apply. You might find yourself on a career journey you’d never anticipated 🙂  

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