We celebrate Veterans and Remembrance Day by honoring those who have served in the military. To commemorate this special occasion, we will spotlight Clouderan Timur Nersesov.
Timur was nine when he immigrated to the US. His first memory upon entering the country was a view of the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center from the portal window of a plane. Against the backdrop of these uniquely American symbols, Timur would go on to participate in the “business of the country” first in the US Army deployed to Iraq, then as a consultant for public and foreign policy, and finally in his current role, enabling the public sector to solve challenges through Cloudera’s technology.
Analyze this: it’s more than just storage
As part of Cloudera’s professional services team, Timur is a senior manager of professional services strategy, serving Cloudera’s public sector customers in federal, state, and local governments, as well as higher education.
“A large part of professional services is essentially technical consulting,” Timur explained. “When customers buy Cloudera products, they can employ professional services to install, upgrade, or integrate the product with other systems. In the long term, we help customers make the most out of their purchases. Like other enterprise-scale products, there are multiple contexts the product might run in, and we help to tailor and tune the product to work optimally for our customers.”
Timur has been with Cloudera for a little over two years and says what he likes most about Cloudera is the product.
“I chose to join Cloudera among other opportunities I had at the time because its products touch the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) sectors,” he explained. “When customers invest in Cloudera they are not investing in marginal savings on storage, they are investing in an analytics capability. And analytics is a prerequisite to be able to do machine learning or artificial intelligence of any kind. The prospect of bringing AI and ML to the public sector is exciting. I think there is no other solution like it, if an enterprise wants to build a solution like what Cloudera offers from the ground up, they would have a long road ahead of them.”
From a “newcomer” to the US to influencing US policy
Timur and his parents, ethnically Armenian, came to the US as refugees from the USSR. Settling in Los Angeles, his parents reestablished their careers in automotive and aviation engineering while he attended school. Today, besides speaking Russian and English, Timur speaks Spanish and functional Turkish and Arabic. While he had an aptitude for language, he attributes the smooth transition to learning English at an early age to the “newcomer” English as a second language program, offered by the Los Angeles Unified School District at the time. Every morning he would be bused in from Hollywood to Bel Air where the school was located. “It was interesting to see how the other half lived as we passed through the city.”
Upon graduation from high school, Timur attended the University of Michigan and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), tracking to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army. “Joining the military was a no-brainer for me,” Timur said. He came from a long line of military officers and had always planned to continue that legacy no matter what country he ended up in.
Upon graduation and his commissioning, he became an armor officer specializing in tank battlefield tactics and reconnaissance operations. He was later deployed to Iraq where he led a reconnaissance platoon consisting of 38 soldiers, and a mix of armored vehicles like Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. His platoon patrolled an area along the Euphrates river southwest of Baghdad. Timur would then go on to alternate between leadership positions like these to staff positions as he advanced his career, later joining the Army Reserve.
“My time on active duty was an unforgettable experience,” Timur said. “I had 38 soldiers under my command ranging from 18 to 35 that I was responsible for. I had a mission and objective every day to accomplish that felt very rewarding. Every time I would go ‘outside the wire’ I knew I was fully responsible for what happens or doesn’t happen. I had to believe in myself and my men.”
Following his initial tour of duty, he spent time in the private sector but was recalled in 2009. During his time as a lieutenant, Timur decided to go to Ranger School (part of the Army’s special operations) but sustained a leg injury during training that required surgery, which would take several years to schedule and wouldn’t happen until his release from active duty in 2009. Post-surgery and during his recovery, he was talking to an old classmate who had interviewed with the top management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. His classmate didn’t end up getting the job but passed along his contact, which led to an offer from Booz Allen. There, he found himself at a crossroads as he was considering returning to a regular Army career post-surgery. Taking the offer from the firm, Timur moved to Washington, DC, to work in their public sector practice. “I worked on some cool projects at the top of the federal government: Pentagon, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security,” Timur said.
Following his other interest in technology, Timur went on to earn a master’s degree in data analytics, which then led to a position at Deloitte, another top management consulting firm. After three years at Deloitte, Timur wanted to transition into an actual technology company versus the consulting side of the business, making his way to Cloudera.
Life lessons learned in the military: leadership, planning, and getting comfortable with the unknown
“I think people that participate in the military learn a variety of valuable and varied skills,” Timur said. “For me in the Army in a combat setting, three qualities stand out.”
“First, I became very comfortable in a leadership role,” Timur said. “At 22 I was in charge of a company of 16 tanks and 70 personnel. Starting with that much responsibility and accountability at such a young age set the stage for any future roles where these qualities were needed.”
“Second, the amount of planning and coordination one has to take on in combat roles is very sophisticated,” Timur went on to explain. “So, when you come out of the military you become acutely aware of how little planning experience your civilian counterparts have because it’s less required until more senior positions.”
“Finally, you develop a comfort for existing in ambiguity, especially in the combat arms specialty setting,” Timur said. “You are given soldiers, a set of weapons, and resources but you don’t have a specific function until you are given a mission. You have to figure out how to take these tools and manage them for this new task. It teaches problem-solving and industriousness.”
Continuing to serve while recognizing and reflecting on Veterans Day
Timur remains in the Army Reserve while having a full-time career at Cloudera, currently completing battalion executive officer time in a training battalion that manages training for reserve and active officers. He enjoys being part of the Army and the greater US military. “I like leading troops, being part of military operations, and knowing I have the ability as a qualified planner to be dropped into a campaign and plan major operations,” Timur said.
“When we talk about Veterans Day, I think there is real value in remembrance of soldiers who have served and sacrificed to preserve our way of life,” Timur started to explain. “But I also think it’s important to have a greater awareness of the present-day connection with the military and our everyday life. I think there is often a disconnect between the military and the public. Very few American citizens, for example, have direct experience with the military and even less direct experience with a US-led combat engagement.”
“Also, having the perspective of working in the Pentagon, I learned the military is an instrument for a lot of our foreign policy and how that has real effects on American lives,” he adds. “For example, free-flowing shipping lanes facilitate goods and services to enter the US. Off-season strawberries might be found in the grocery store because they were shipped in from Chile. The main ingredients of a cheeseburger all come together at any time of the year because grains, meats, cheese, and vegetables can be shipped in. It’s the deterrent of the US Navy that makes this possible.”
“But looking at the bigger picture, the US is a quarter to a fifth of the global economy among only 300 million people,” he says. “That’s less than 5% of the world population that is consuming a quarter of the world GDP. The military, therefore, plays a big part in world economics when it comes to things like trade and foreign relations.”
Applying army lessons to technology solutions
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to the power of Cloudera’s technology Timur is a big fan. “Being able to apply it to the public sector opens up a lot of opportunities,” he said. “Because the public sector is allowed to experiment more with technology, there is a wider range of use cases than in the private sector.” Like how Timur found creative ways to solve problems in the military: “In order to scope the work for my customers I have to dive into what they are trying to do with their technology.” He adds, “What I’m really interested in is bringing the technology to where it’s useful.”
In closing, we want to thank Timur for telling his story, offering his perspective on Veterans Day, and continuing to help Cloudera customers make their organizations better.
Interested in working with others like Timur? Check out our current job openings.