Certified Technical Architect

It is over. Finally. And I already kind of regret it as it was such a great ride.

Certified Technical Architect logo

Six years ago, during my job interview, I said I don’t want the title, because it takes so much energy and time to get it. Two years ago I attended the 601 training as a first step to become a CTA. And almost nine months later I failed for the first time. I still remember how grateful I was for the failure, because it was so easy to solve the scenario, to do the presentation, to answer the questions. If it is that easy why people fail, right?

I also remember the question I got after – how do you plan to prepare for retake? I had no clue. Had the feeling I know all the technical stuff (and it is called technical architect, right?) and I just need to work on the presentation part. But with no set date for the retake I wasn’t willing to invest the time.

So 2021 went by and I didn’t do much. I was surprised how much I remember, I just was a bit rusty with my presentation A lot of delays everywhere, no one convinced I’m ready for retake, summer period, you name it.

After all I cleared the 602 and expected to sit the board in three months time, so time for some studies. But for some weird reason it took time again. Finally I’ve been told about February date, which was quickly taken away from me (oh sorry, mistake on our side) to get it back two weeks later (sorry to see you go Martin).

How to learn for retake

So I had less than two months for final preparation. Routine I needed – solve scenario, present either to myself, to judges (internal or external) or watch recording of someone else presenting and answering the same scenario. Along the way learn the things I’ve been missing.

I saw a few great presentations, still have no clue how Melissa is able to put so many details in her presentation and still be on time. I observed how people got way better – the jump in James‘ performance when he watch his presentation over a few months is astonishing.

And I semi-failed second time. The scenario was absolutely crazy, never saw anything like that. But also – mainly based on QA – I realised that some points we probably shouldn’t take literaly. I had the „hide and seek“ feeling after we wrap-up as you have no clue where the questions lead and what the judges want to hear. It was so obvious to me that I failed and I wasn’t sure I want to repeat the experience.

Why they call it Technical Architect while the technical knowledge is just small part of the exam? You can learn it in a few months (and Johann confirm it as well), but to pass you need to be strong in the „softer“ areas as well – how to present, how to handle questions and objections, project management, governance and all these kind of things. Melissa covered it perfectly. And when we spoke with Martins‘ and Svata (in Czech only) Martin said it clearly to me – as a CTA you will speak with C-level people and you need to be able to handle it. That’s what CTA is about.

But then results came and I had two sections retake – Security and Development Lifecycle. That’s a must to do it, no way I’ll not sit the board again. And I had to wait, the CTA Summit had priority, delays and delays, which was great, because I had time for the CzechDreamin and not much else.

Two section retake

Middle of June and I sit the board for the third time, but this time it was completely different. Normally you have three hours (+ 30 minutes for non-native speaker) for preparation, with two section retake you have just 90 minutes (+ 5 minutes extra) for the same scenario, where you focus just on sections you retake. But when you need to retake security it means you need to cover licences, data model, you need to have a vision how you will technically solve every requirement. And Development Lifecycle (plus governance) is the same – where are all the risks we need to cover?

For normal board you have 45 minutes for presentation, where you need to present everything, for section retake you have 30 minutes where you cover just what you need to cover. Plenty of time, you can slow done, but you still need to hit the time as precisely as possible. Tricky, completely different preparation, completely different presentation style.

After the board I’ve been wasted. I feel I handled the QA better, I asked what they want to hear, I asked whether I cover their question.

A lot of oAuth flows questions and I realised how important consistency is. Till that moment whenever I thought about CI/CD I usually thought about Azure DevOps, as I have the most real life experience with that. This time it looks better to go with Copado for a few reasons. And it kicked back when we got to the question of oAuth flow the CI/CD will use as I didn’t realised I use a different tool this time, which uses different flow and I got lost. Not the perfect final question for my board.

Waiting, again. Do I have enough? Did I pass? Will I do it again? No way! I have enough.

The end

The results came in and it was relief. I passed.

It was sad as well, I won’t have the opportunity to be challenged in this way anymore. It is so great experience, on a project you spent weeks with discovery, then plenty of sessions where you present your solution. Rarely challenging questions because you are the expert. During the board you have everything served, you have quiet time to solve it, present and answer questions, you are challenged and have a feeling you achieved something even though you fail.

But than I got an email that my board is scheduled, again. Hi, what’s going on was my question, the answer was sorry, just some cleaning on our side, but you can always take the board just for fun. And I’m like – ok, I’m in, how much do you charge? It is exhilirating and I would do it any time again. But I don’t have to. Such a great feeling.

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