Jamal Boulhous – understanding the needs of our clients from exotic Morocco

May 11, 2020

Here at OTGS we work closely with colleagues from all over the world. It’s wonderful to get to know about their countries and cultures.   Jamal lives and works in exotic Morocco, a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. Think of Tangiers, Casablanca, Berber villages in the High Atlas Mountains and camels crossing the Sahara…

The view 20 minutes from Ait Ourir

Let’s visit Jamal and find out more about his life there.

I do not have a pet, but this was fun at the local market.

I live in Ait Ourir, a small town half hour south of Marrakesh, Morocco. I am the youngest of 6 children. We used to live a further half hour south from Ait Ourir in a small town called Tighdouine where my parents were teachers. We moved to Ait Ourir while I was still very young so that we children could go to middle and high school. Ait Ourir is built on both sides of the Oued Zat. A oued or wadi means a river which remains dry except during the rainy season. Zat is the name of the valley. 

After we moved to Ait Ourir, my father decided to create a supplementary project in the local market, a chicken store. The souk of Ait Ourir is important to trade in our province. This large market trades in agricultural produce, sheep and other items. There is a place at the souk selling a popular dish tajine or tagine, a spicy meat and vegetable stew named after the earthenware pot in which it is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal.  

I graduated from Marrakech university as a computer engineer. My first professional experience was in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, with Hewlett Packard as an SAP (Systems Applications and Products) technical administrator. I began working in support and learned a great deal about enterprise information systems and how to manage them.

This photo was taken when I was an SAP admin at HP, November 2011.

What were you doing before joining OnTheGoSystems?

For personal reasons, I had to return to my town Ait Ourir. My father’s store already employed 3 people and I didn’t have  so much to do. Since I had some spare time, I wanted to invest my computer knowledge in new projects. The nearest city, Marrakech, is a popular destination for tourists and the market needed websites, so I began building websites and tools for customers there. Some websites I created myself and contributed to others, working with various companies and contacts – training, recruiting, and other technical projects including some offshore ones. I was also able to teach part-time at a private technical school in Marrakech. Over this 5-year period, I learned a great deal about web technologies and, of course, about WordPress.

My family

How did you hear about the company?  When did you join?

I cannot remember whether it was a blog post or an online advertisement that led me to a  newsletter about remote work. One day, I received a new newsletter in the email and discovered a support offer from OnTheGoSystems. As I already had  previous experience in support, I decided to give  it a try. First, I met the COO Laura, then the Support Manager, Amit and Andrés from WPML Support. It seemed that in no time at all, I had a full time work position again! That was in November 2018. The best part was that this time it was a remote position  :-)

What is WPML support all about?

The WPML support team handles customers’ requests coming to our forum.  For 15 months I was working in the English and French language forums. Forum threads are usually in the form of questions –  how to do something or why does something not work as it should. From time to time, we receive reports of problems with WPML.

Supporters help customers find the relevant documentation about WPML to help them achieve what they want. When something is not working as expected, we need to understand the customer environment and how the customer is working. Then we may suggest different ways or workarounds. We may need to  isolate the problem from compatibility conflicts with third party themes and plugins. On occasion, we may spot a compatibility bug or a bug in our plugins which we report to 2nd Tier or to the developers.  We always make sure to reassure our customers and keep communicating with them so they don’t feel their problems have been forgotten.

Two months ago, I was asked to take on a new challenge – to work as a 1st Tier supporter within the Toolset support team. Basically the work procedure is similar to working as a WPML supporter but there are some differences due to the nature of Toolset as a product. It is a new challenge, and I like it very much.

Having worked with both teams, I must say that everyone is very collaborative and helpful and the working atmosphere is very pleasant.

What qualifications are needed?

I believe that some knowledge about programming languages, especially PHP and Javascript, network systems and database administration is definitely a good foundation for this job. 

But anyone willing to learn about WordPress can do it. There is plenty of documentation online and thousands of open source themes and plugins to learn from and get inspired. 

What are the  challenges you face?

I think that the biggest challenge in support is to understand that the client needs help. Not all the clients know how to communicate their problem, and this is probably the most important and most common challenge.  It is about understanding the request, evaluating issues, suggesting solutions, debugging causes, and reporting bugs. 

There are also technical challenges –  learning more about WordPress, WPML and Toolset. Now that Gutenberg is here, learning  Javascript and React were the next  technical hurdles for me. I am pretty comfortable with Javascript. I was following React from its announcement but I have not worked on a project with it yet.

What are the best advantages with working at OTGS

I’d like to list these advantages:

  • WordPress is a proven technology, we will still have jobs for decades :-)
  • Everyone is helpful in OTGS, we can learn about each other’s work from all colleagues.
  • We can work from wherever we want, we just need a reliable internet connection.
  • Interacting with people from all over the world.

Another advantage is that my work day is orderly, starting at 9am. I usually read my emails first in order to reply to urgent demands and to get an idea of my queue. Some tickets may need credentials for further analysis and I send those requests first. Then I work on one ticket at a time. 

There are definitely more advantages. If I ever get voted as employee of the month again, I’ll be sure to share them!! 

How do you see your future?

I really want to create my own project that would benefit my community. In 5 to 10 years, I hope to open a school for learning computer sciences. Maybe we can offer other courses, who knows :-)

Next month we will meet another of our international colleagues!