Archive | August 2020

Annabelle Meek, CRN Women In Channel Award Nominee 2020

At Computacenter, we have a strong commitment to promoting, encouraging and progressing the careers of women in tech, and are delighted that this year we have 9 amazing nominees in the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020! To even be nominated is a fantastic achievement for our talented, hard-working and passionate group of nominees and we would like to send a huge congratulations to all of them.

We are highlighting their individual achievements and journeys to show just how well-deserved these nominations are. The next blog in this series is written by Annabelle Meek, our Lead Security Manager, who reflects on her achievements with Computacenter so far and how it feels to be nominated for such an important award.


Annabelle Meek has been with us at Computacenter for almost 3 years, currently working as the Lead Security Manager for one of our most high-profile customers.

“This is a highly complex account which challenges me in every aspect of security management,” she says. “It varies from incident management, patch management, vulnerability management, change management and continual project innovation.”

Within her role, she has played a big part in mentoring a number of our Industrial Placement Students over the years; a role she took on as an addition to her technical day-to-day responsibilities.

“I love to inspire people into pursuing technology careers and enabling our junior members of the team to grow in the cyber security sector.”

Over her 15 years’ experience working in various managed services companies, Annabelle has worked with a range of high-profile customers, which has given her the opportunity to develop her skills, helping her build the foundations that have enabled her to get to where she is in her career today.

“Computacenter has been a roller-coaster of a journey in the short time I have been here,” she says. “I cannot believe how fast time flies when you are having so much fun working in a role you absolutely love.” 

Being nominated for this award is something that Annabelle doesn’t take lightly, and she is immensely proud to be up there among other Computacenter colleagues.

“I am absolutely over the moon to have been nominated by Computacenter for the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020. To have this kind of significant recognition has made me so proud to represent women who work in technology.”

Having had a mentor herself, Annabelle is now a role model in her own right. One of our Cyber Security Industrial Placement students shared just how much of an impact Annabelle has had:

“I feel a deep sense of gratitude for Annabelle. She has shown indispensable support and encouragement throughout my time at Computacenter and beyond. 

She taught me how to work hard and keep going during adversity. Annabelle is a kind, caring, and nurturing person. 

Without her, I would not have been so lucky to receive the opportunities I have experienced to this date. I can proudly say that you are one of my role models.’’

When she isn’t protecting our top customers from cyber crime and cyber security attacks, Annabelle is a mother to two children. Raising children, running a home and working full time keeps her extremely busy, but she still finds time to enjoy plenty of time for dog walks and exploring at the weekends!

When asked about her nomination, Annabelle said:

“I am honoured to be recognised as an inspirational woman in tech. I truly hope I can inspire others to mentor young women to step in to the world of technology, as I have loved every minute of my career in Computacenter.”

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Workspaces of the near, not far, future

Predicting the future is a notoriously difficult business. Nostradamus got away with it by being supremely ambiguous but if you need to be more specific it makes sense to keep timescales tight and start from where you are today. You’ll be unsurprised then, to find that this blog is not about the workspace of 2030, but what will happen in the next 12 months. Considering that the last six months have turned how we work upside down; and things are unlikely to go back to how they were, we need to plan realistically for all that this implies.

I have previously written about the importance of the office. How the tech giants were spending billions creating campuses to entice people to spend more time working collaboratively in one physical space. The world has changed somewhat since then, but those organisations are now well placed to adapt because the workspaces they created are flexible enough for people to work in the ways they want, plus they have the potential to adapt to meet these needs as they evolve.

Speaking to colleagues and friends, what has been obvious is that everyone’s experience of lockdown has been different. It varies wildly depending on factors such as your family circumstances, the environment you work in, the stage you’re at in your career, not to mention the type of work you do. People are social animals and the importance of that should not be overlooked. After the initial enthusiasm for remote working, organisations are also starting to find out that it is not a panacea. Problems can take longer to resolve when people aren’t physically together. New staff and those at the start of their careers aren’t developing and integrating as quickly as they would if they were office-based. Video meeting fatigue is a real thing and productivity is starting to wane as hopes of a quick end to this situation dissipates.

At present, most organisations are not rushing staff back to the workplace. Strategies around the numbers that should return are also being hampered by external factors like childcare and public transport arrangements. Whatever the actual numbers turn out to be, the workplace of the near future needs to be able to flex to accommodate this. Designs, once the exclusive reserve of tech giants and media companies, will need to become a reality for the more ‘traditional’ organisations.

Accepting that it’s unlikely we will ever return to the workplace in the numbers we used to, how do our workspaces need to change? In an article on the BBC website Barclays’ boss Jes Staley has said that the pandemic “has led to a rethink of the bank’s long term ‘location strategy’”. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he predicts that 50% of the company’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. It makes sense to me then that more focus is put on regional offices.  The headquarters then become a hub: a central location to bring people together, host customers and hold executive meetings. For this to work, however, we need to re-think how those spaces are used and what experience they offer:

  • Collaboration with remote participants will be the norm
  • Office spaces must better support new hybrid workstyles
  • Buildings need to be smarter to adapt to this changing use and support sustainability targets
  • Employees will need help to make the most of the physical spaces as much as they will the technologies that underpin them

As companies learn to trust staff to be able to know where and how to work most efficiently, there will be a step change in people’s work/life balance.  For the organisations themselves there are obvious benefits in a reduction in office space, fewer expenses, happier and more productive people. Customers too are accepting that most things can be done remotely and spending three hours, each way, travelling to an hour-long meeting is not the best use of anyone’s time.

There are investments that need to be made now to make the workspace safe and begin the return. But the long-term investments need to be in changing how our workspaces operate for the continued benefit of everyone. The office will undoubtedly still be important and play a crucial role in both colleague wellbeing and organisational success. Workspaces will have to adapt to this to thrive and businesses will have to look at investing to compete. The environment you create will be key in both attracting and retaining talent as well as creating an advantage against your competition.

Don’t try and predict the future. Plan and invest for what you know will happen. Prioritise those that need to return, make investments to allow those that want to return to do so and ensure that those working for home don’t suffer from a degraded user experience.  Unless of course, like Nostradamus, you have foreseen the apocalypse in which case you have other things to worry about.   

Claire Harlow, CRN Women In Channel Award Nominee 2020

At Computacenter, we have a strong commitment to promoting, encouraging and progressing the careers of women in tech, and are delighted that this year we have 9 amazing nominees in the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020! To even be nominated is a fantastic achievement for our talented, hard-working and passionate group of nominees and we would like to send a huge congratulations to all of them.

We are going to be highlighting their individual achievements and journeys to show just how well-deserved these nominations are. The next blog in this series is written by Claire Harlow, IT Technical Services Manager, who reflects on her nomination and career with us at Computacenter so far.


My name is Claire Harlow and I am hugely proud and excited to be representing Computacenter at the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020 in the Manager of the Year category.

In my current role as IT Technical Services Manager within Group IS, I manage both a Technical and a Support team, and was bowled over to have been nominated by 4 of the amazing women in my team. Here we are celebrating International Women’s Day earlier this year:

My career with Computacenter

I joined Computacenter back in 2014 and immediately felt at home.

I was lucky to be surrounded by great colleagues and was supported by a manager who was more than happy to help me progress. During the first couple of years, I learnt more about Computacenter as a company and GIS, taking on the role as chair of the GIS Employee Forum and becoming an Induction Champion. We had some fun times, including organising a charity “Lunchtime Olympics” event, Senior Management Q&A sessions and of course those delicious Christmas Buffets…

I had expressed an interest in taking on more responsibility and in 2016 was offered the chance to lead a new team, giving me my first official management role. This was a huge moment for me, and I really enjoyed the challenge. It was especially exciting when my old team was incorporated into my “new” team a year later – followed by the Support team shortly after.

Computacenter provided a suite of management training courses and I was lucky enough to be able to learn from experienced role models in my own management chain. But, looking back, what helped the most was the great bunch of people I was managing.

I was delighted to read the following quote from Nick, our GIS Apps Director, during the awards submission process:

“Claire is a pleasure to work with. Since joining the Group Information Services (GIS) Division in 2014 as a systems consultant, she has rapidly progressed as a leader. Claire is a key member of the divisional extended leadership team. Claire’s success is driven by many factors, including her endless levels of day to day enthusiasm and ‘we can do this’ attitude, her excellent organisational and motivational skills, and her high levels of creativity.”

Having had nothing but support and encouragement in my own development journey over the last 6 years, I think one of the reasons I was nominated for the CRN Women in Channel Award is because I’m also passionate about helping others. Not everyone wants to progress up the career ladder at high speed, but most people do want to be supported, respected and given the opportunity to learn and improve in whichever way suits them best. This is what I try to do with everyone in my team and I’m proud of the way the whole team works, both together and within the wider division. I like to think the team is well respected within the division and seen as a team who really ‘gets things done.’

Reading the initial nominations and the (later) supporting statements from the team and management was humbling and something that you don’t often get to do. This kind of experience is a bit strange, because it’s somehow unnatural to shout about yourself from the rooftops; but equally, it made me look back on what I’ve achieved over the last few years with real pride. 

Working through the COVID-19 crisis

The last few months has been enormously challenging, both for me and members of the team. Everyone has had to get used to working from home, juggling childcare, keeping in touch. Strangely, it feels like we have never been busier.

I suppose in a way, that’s a good thing, and everyone has been doing an amazing job both on new customer projects and keeping things ticking over on the BAU side. However, I look forward to a time when we will be able to go back to the office, bounce ideas off each other, spend time in face to face meetings (not too much though) and go out for lunch…

Outside of work

When I’m not at work I enjoy relaxing at home, baking, taking my 2 mini schnauzers out for long walks, and catching up with family and friends. At work, I have office running buddies, and it’s proved a lot harder to motivate myself at home!

I would like to finish with a quote from one of my team, which encapsulates the kind of manager I aspire to be:

“It’s truly motivating to have a manager who is always willing to contribute, as opposed to delegation by default, and I think that this is the perfect time and opportunity for Claire’s efforts to be recognised.”

Having this kind of testimonial from a team member and getting this far in the CRN Women in Channel Awards is truly an honour. I hope it inspires other women to pursue or continue their careers in tech.