The Fonolonian Experience: Our Solutions Engineer Talks Hiring, Training, and Company Culture

Life at Fonolo | 6 minute read

The ever-growing tech scene continues to attract professionals all over the world. And with jobs popping up left and right, it can be challenging for them to find the right place to plant their roots.

So, when network engineer Simon Russell decided it was time to look for his next opportunity, he knew that it would need to be an exceptional place to work. Today, he is an integral part of the small but mighty Solutions Engineering team at Fonolo. We asked him about his journey that led him to this exciting chapter of his career — read on to learn about his experiences!

“There are some great technical minds working here, and you’ll have all the support you need. They’re all people who are motivated and enjoy what they do. You’ll be better just by working with them!”

– Simon Russell, Solutions Engineer at Fonolo

New Career, New Beginnings

Simon was a seasoned customer service professional, with over 20+ years in the business. He’d worked in many types of roles, from retail to call centers — but while he enjoyed his work, he felt there was more he could do with his career.

Photo: Simon poses with his custom Fonolo coffee mug and a painting he made during the 2020 Fonolo Holiday Social.

At the 2020 Fonolo holiday social, our team received some lovely keepsakes including a custom Fonolo mug and supplies for a fun painting activity!

“I’ve always enjoyed computers in general,” said Simon. “My brother had a Commodore 64, so when I was four, I was already playing games.”

It was this long-time passion for video games and technology that brought him into the world of network engineering. In his late 20s, he made the decision to go back to school and started a new chapter in his career.

“I’ve always enjoyed like, computers in general. I like telling machines what to do. So, it made sense for me to parlay that into a career.”

Soon after graduating, he landed his first gig as a network engineer. But after relocating to Canada from his home country of Ireland, he began to grow weary of working remotely for his employer across the pond. Missing the vibrancy of office culture and coworkers, he began to search for a local business where he could continue his career.

Getting to Know Fonolo

Simon was in the luxurious option of being able to pick and choose the roles he wanted to apply for. Luckily, he didn’t have to look far — when he came across an opportunity with Fonolo for a Solutions Engineer position, he immediately saw alignment with his own skills, qualifications, and most importantly, personality.

He submitted his application, and soon after, he found himself in contact with Fonolo’s HR Director, Andrea Johnson. Simon said he immediately felt comfortable during his first phone screening, and quickly realized that his credentials weren’t the only deciding factor in the process.

“I really liked how they put equal weight on how you’ll fit into the job, as well as your technical ability.”
– Simon Russell, Solutions Engineer at Fonolo

“They made it seem that personality was just as important as your skills,” he said. He recalled his technical interview, which was relaxed and informal in tone. Rather than grilling him on fulfilling a checklist of requirements, Simon said the questions focused more on his understanding of general concepts related to the role.

In addition, Simon was also invited to a culture interview, where he met other members of the Fonolo team outside his would-be department to assess chemistry. This approach really made an impression with Simon. “I really liked how they put equal weight on how you’ll fit in the job, as well as your technical ability,” he said.

The feeling was mutual, and after a few weeks, Simon accepted a full-time role as Fonolo’s newest Solutions Engineer!

The Training & Onboarding Experience

Simon was excited to start working with his new team. But in March 2020, just before his start date, fate threw a wrench in their plans.

Simon and four of his fellow coworkers are pictured on Zoom, each holding up a colourful book at their virtual book club meeting.

The Fon-Book club meets once a month to discuss their latest group read!

News of COVID-19 swept across the world, and Fonolo was forced to follow suit with other businesses and close their offices. On the day he expected to be shaking hands and making friendly introductions, Simon found himself, ironically, working from home meeting the team via Zoom.

“Meeting a bunch of new people online was a bit of a mad experience,” recalled Simon. His first week was spent meeting everyone on his team and getting to know the lay of the land. Despite the work-from-home situation, he immediately noticed that the departments were extremely collaborative, contrary to a lot of other workplaces he’d seen in past.


Want to join the Solutions Engineering team? Here are 3 essential skills you’ll need:

  • People skills – We’re looking for individuals who are polite, personable, and can build lasting relationships with customers.
  • Communication skills – You must be able to write great business emails and communicate in a direct and transparent fashion, especially when it comes to explaining technical issues.
  • Technical skills – You have to enjoy the technical aspect of the role, and be comfortable with problem solving and troubleshooting.

Explore our Career Page ➜

“Fonolo takes advantage of the fact that they’re a smaller company by having this sort of collaboration,” Simon said. “In the future, I imagine it’ll be just as easy to go out for a beer with Ben from marketing or Shane from sales as it would be with anyone from my own team.”

As for the onboarding process, Fonolo was able to quickly pivot their approach to an online model. Simon said the experience went very well, considering the climate. Aside from general training decks, he was offered a lot of practical sessions with other members of the company, including drills and ‘dummy calls’ to prepare him for client interactions.

“I don’t like being put on the spot not having the answer that I should,” admitted Simon. “[But] between my manager and teammates, I was never left wondering. I always knew I could ask questions and get answers.”

A Fully-Fledged Member of the Fonolo Team

It’s been almost a year since Simon started with Fonolo. But you would never guess he was a newbie from the success he’s had in his short time with the company! His customer service experience coupled with his technical knowledge made him a natural fit for the Solutions Engineering team.

On the daily, Simon monitors the activities of his clients and watches for any unexpected challenges with their software and call volumes. He’s also involved in sales meetings to provide technical insight into Fonolo’s call-back technology and manages deployment for new clients.

He’s cognizant of the fact that the customer’s experience with the solutions will make or break the trusting relationship, so he works to anticipate their problems. Often, he flags issues in advance for them and proposes solutions, saving his grateful customers from unnecessary headaches.

“I get a buzz off solving technical problems. If someone hands me a task and asks if I can figure this out, I’ll exhaust every avenue just to get it done.”
– Simon Russell, Solutions Engineer at Fonolo

“I get a buzz off solving technical problems,” says Simon. “If someone hands me a task and asks if I can figure this out, I’ll exhaust every avenue just to get it done. It’s even better when a customer recognizes that, and they realize you’re going above and beyond.”

It’s that gratitude and acknowledgement from both customers and colleagues that really motivates Simon to do his best each day. But perhaps best of all, Simon says he loves how common interests really helps the team bond.

“We all bring different skill-sets, but the unifying factor is we all geek out over tech,” he says. “We all enjoy what we do, and we find it interesting. It’s a lot of fun in that aspect!”

Join the Fonolo Team

Our family is growing! Click here to explore current opportunities with Fonolo.

See Fonolo in Action

Select the type of demo you'd like.

By continuing to browse our website, you agree to the use of cookies for providing our services, marketing purposes, and analytics. To understand more about how we use cookies and ensure the safety of your data, please refer to our Privacy Policy.

Accept and Close