Open source empowers anyone with enough interest and determination to contribute to and rise within even the biggest projects. One stellar example of this meritocracy in action is Roberth Strand, CNCF Ambassador and Principal Cloud Engineer at Amesto Fortytwo. Roberth doesn’t have the background one might expect of a high-level technologist. He doesn’t hold a computer science degree; in fact, he didn’t even graduate from secondary school. 

In youth school – the Norwegian equivalent to high school in the US – Roberth had trouble concentrating and habitually failed courses. After dropping out, he strived to make it as a musician in Tromsø, Norway, relying on the country’s liberal welfare system to get by. 

From Music to Tech

The reason for his bumpy academic career became clear to Roberth last year, when he learned that he suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Despite his condition – or, strangely, perhaps because of it – Roberth managed to teach himself about computers in his pastime. Years into a fitful music career, he leveraged his technical knowledge to pivot in a new direction. He posted to Facebook seeking work as a system administrator, and eventually landed a role at a friend’s tech business. 

“I was what we call a potato, you have to work with everything,” said Roberth, who eventually gravitated towards infrastructure as code. Working chiefly on programmability, he became familiar with open source tooling, such as HashiCorp’s Terraform. 

Roberth’s entry into the cloud native world came later when he dove head first into GitOps. “I went all in with GitOps,” he said, attributing his intense focus on the framework to hyperfixation, a common ADHD symptom.

“Everything I do, I do at scale.”

Roberth Strand

Joining the GitOps Working Group

Joining the GitOps working group felt intimidating at first, Roberth said. “I’m not a very social person, so just jumping into a random meeting with people was tough,” he said. However, he quickly learned how welcoming and helpful most community members were towards newcomers. 

Roberth has come a long way since nervously introducing himself at his first GitOps meeting. He’s now a maintainer of OpenGitOps – a full-fledged CNCF Sandbox project that evolved from the working group – and helped develop its four core GitOps principles. He also co-chairs CNCF’s Platforms working group, which recently released a white paper on the nature and benefits of cloud native platforms. He has spoken at numerous events, including KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. 

Early on, Roberth was amazed at how quickly a contributor’s idea becomes a manifest part of something larger in open source. As an example, he recounted his first update to Microsoft documentation – the start of his journey to becoming a Microsoft Azure MVP. 

“I edited something and it got through all the six million systems. And all of a sudden, Microsoft documentation had my words on it – that’s huge.”

Roberth Strand

Get Involved

Now thrilled with all that grew out of his first contributions, Roberth encourages others to pick an open source community and jump in, regardless of their background.

“Contributions don’t have to be technical. Administrative things are also very welcome in many different projects and working groups – so come join us.”

Roberth Strand

If you’re inspired by Roberth’s journey, check out Cloud Native Contributors to start contributing today.