First of all thanks to Lowri for the last blog, a great insight into what we have been up to on the Associate programme.
Following on from that, our Helping Clients Succeed presentation gave a really good understanding into how our Sales team feel when they are presenting to a customer. Burning the midnight oil and trying to learn as much as we could about the hypothetical customer was great. As the day came both John Beard and Pierre Hall, who were acting as CEO and CIO respectively, pulled no punches and really put us to the sword. As we faced some tough questions regarding our time scales and commercials, it became apparent that we didn’t know as much as we thought! Safe to say we all enjoyed the process and congratulations to the winning team. We celebrated with a few lemonades and a Christmas meal for all the 2016 associates.
Following on from this, it was great for us to see how the pressure ramps up and how important our Q4 and specifically December were. The whole organisation steps it up a gear to ensure we have a successful year end, and it was great experience for myself and my fellow associates to help, where possible, to close out the year.
After the great success of last year’s Kick Off, I know the account teams spent some time doing filming to this year’s theme tune of ‘London’s Calling’. I spent the day with the Financial Services team and we had the “unfortunate” task of racing down the River Thames on a speedboat followed by going round the London Eye. A great day was had by all and I know everyone enjoyed their big screen debut at the Kick Off.
Speaking of the kick off, this year was my second kick off after last year’s massive success in Barcelona, what an event that was! And what a Kick Off it was this year again! Once again I was blown away by the scale of the event and the output from the vendors. It was great to get round all the stalls and continue to get to know all of our partners. The award ceremony was as loud, raucous and inspiring as last year; huge congratulations to everyone who was recognised on the night.
We recently had our half two development day where we went out to Wokefield Park in Reading where we reviewed the previous year. More importantly we looked ahead to what our learning gaps are and what we think we have left to do in order to become role ready in the summer. Whilst we recognise it is a daunting task, it is one my fellow associates and I are relishing.
With only 3 months to go until we ‘graduate’ from the programme, our final rotation will take us to Clare’s new enterprise sector where we will be helping drive opportunity and generating new business, something we are all looking forward to.
It has been a great first fourteen months at Computacenter, hopefully many more to come!
First off, thanks to James and Callum for the useful tips on applying for the Associate Programme. The other Service and Sales Associates have just come to the end of assisting with the assessment centres which definitely brings back memories from when we were in their place just this time last year. I have to say, it’s much nicer being on this side of the table and passing on our words of wisdom to the hopefuls for next year instead of being put under the spotlight ourselves. That apart though, it really puts into perspective just how far we have all come since starting the programme ten months ago and it’s both scary and exciting to think we only have eight months left!
With this in mind and with the new associates nearly in place to start their role in January, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a look at what I’ve found particularly valuable on the programme so far. I certainly feel that the programme has continued to improve the longer I’ve been on it. By this point in the scheme I’ve gained a grasp of the services and solutions Computacenter provide, I’ve managed to finally decode a large number of the acronyms I hear used in work every day and I have a much better idea of who the best person to turn to for each individual challenge I come across is.
One of the rotations which, I think really shows how much we’ve all learnt since starting the programme in January is ‘Helping Clients Succeed’. For those of you who are not aware, during this module the Associates are split into groups of three or four and are given the challenge of responding to a brief from a telecommunications company. We have to go through all the usual, well known processes when first qualifying and going ahead with an opportunity. The module concludes with each group presenting back to the key stakeholders within the dummy telecommunications business. Each group is just getting to the end of their initial conversations with the key stakeholders from within the company: Martin Roberts, Barry Binding, Andy Bryant, Derek Wilks and Darren Chapman or, as you may better know them, Pete Larson, Stewart Filler, Ade West, Gavin Bell and Rob Stanley. It’s surprising how capable and relaxed I think we’ve all felt in leading these conversations with the key stakeholders. It’s been really interesting to find out the ways in which you can best lead these initial conversations with prospective new customers. Hopefully, as we progress through the module we’ll continue to feel as at ease, especially when undertaking our final presentation.
For me, another highlight of the programme so far has got to be working on the Waitrose Account. I’ve been on the account for the past two months supporting and assisting the Service Management team. The John Lewis Partnership has been a long standing customer for Computacenter and it has been really useful to experience the Service Management role on this account.
Working with Waitrose has given me real exposure to what the Service Management role is really like. It has shown me that Stuart Maynard, when he introduced the role of Service Management to us all in January, wasn’t exaggerating when he said the role was fundamentally ‘spinning a lot of plates’. Juggling is certainly a skill I think I’ll be able to add to the CV by the time I finish the programme! Working alongside Waitrose, our internal teams and third parties has challenged me but it has also been a thoroughly positive and enjoyable experience. They say the best way to learn is to really get stuck in and get your hands dirty and this has definitely been my experience so far on the account. It’s been very rewarding to watch ideas progress and see relationships build with the customer. The experience so far has definitely made me very pleased I decided to go into Service Management and I’m looking forward to working with both Waitrose and the Service Management and Account Team during the peak period which will soon be upon us all.
My final highlight of the year is a bit more general. A lot of the programme revolves around us building relationships with key people within the business and ensuring that we get to know each part of Computacenter well. One of my highlights so far has been doing just this, and I don’t just mean drinks at the Oyster Shed after work! As we’ve all been progressing through the programme, I’ve found that so many people put time aside to assist with your development and that’s one of my favourite things about Computacenter as a whole: if you want to achieve, Computacenter will do its best to give you the tools to do this. Having had a small taste of seeing what being a Service Manager is like, I know how busy people are and so I’m extremely grateful to all the people who so far have given up some of their spare time to help with my development.
Admittedly, some of this has taken place in a more fun environment such as the Services University, but we’ve also all spent a lot of time with people from across the business during the working day, whether that’s whilst we are on set rotations or because they’re willing to give up time to give us the benefit of their experience in a particular area which may not be covered by the programme. So many people at Computacenter have worked here for so long and it is always useful to pick up hints and tips from those who have much more experience.
It’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to what the next eight months will bring. There’s still much more to learn and many more people to meet. Thanks for giving up the time to listen to my ramblings, next month we will be hearing from Harry Walkden.
This time last year I was sat reading Glen’s blog giving advice on how to apply, along with some helpful tips around the Associate Programmes. This must mean that it’s the time of year again where we starting looking to bring new talent into Computacenter via the Sales and Service Associate Programmes. Normally in this blog you would hear from either a Service Manager or a Sales Associate, however this month you will hear from both Callum and myself, in a combined article to give you an insight into the later stages of the recruitment process and some helpful tips.
I’m going to touch on the face to face interviews and the first evening of the assessment centre before Callum goes on to talk about the second day. Together we will cover the tasks that you need to complete, some essential advice and what we learnt when we went through the same process 12 months ago.
The face to face interviews are going to be with a member of Senior Management and also a current Associate. This is a competency based interview, and therefore it is important that your answers are detailed and that you can accurately demonstrate what you have done. Although face to face interviews are a daunting prospect, it’s important just to be yourself because everyone else is taken.
Remember; they want to see your personality, hear what you have done which has led you to this point and why you think you would be an asset to Computacenter. At the end of the face-to-face interview the senior manager will leave the interview and you will get the opportunity to talk to the current associate around the programme and any other questions you may have. This is a great opportunity to gain some further insight into what you might be doing a year from now.
Once you have completed stages 4 and 5, it is time to pack your overnight bag and travel to Hatfield for the two day assessment centre. It’s a great experience, and a real positive about our application process is that Computacenter allow time to really get to know you before making such an important decision around your future.
On arrival you will meet some of the other applicants, a great time to meet some of your potential future colleagues as well as some of the current associates before a briefing session that will give you a better insight into the next 36 hours. There will be a dinner with the senior management who will be involved in the 2 day interview process, which allows you to get to know your assessors before you’re in an interview scenario. This shows how invested the senior executive team at Computacenter is in the Associate programme, something the successful applicants will come to realise quickly once you start!
More importantly this is a great opportunity to sit down over dinner and ask some questions of the leadership team, so think carefully about what questions you ask and the answers you give as you are being assessed from the outset. One final piece of advice; enjoy the networking afterwards, but know your limit!
I will now hand over to Callum…
So, thanks to James’ tips, you’ve had a great evening with the other candidates and have started to impress the assessment panel. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and get some breakfast in the morning, because trust me you’re going to need that energy today at our Hatfield head office.
This is your chance to really shine – with multiple opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities in different areas vital to Sales / Service Management, and prove that you’re right for the role!
You’ll be given a group task, where you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to be part of and maybe even lead a team, and then present back to the assessors as a group. You will also be set a topic for, and, having been told your stance, be given the opportunity to debate it against your fellow applicants – remember here that subject knowledge isn’t the most important thing – the assessors will be looking more for skills such as calmness under pressure, logical thinking and ability to listen to others and communicate effectively.
Next it’s time to outshine the other candidates with the individual assessments. First you’ll have to put pen to paper again for another written and numeracy test – you’ve all had similar tests earlier in the process though, so don’t panic!
As if having dinner with him last night wasn’t enough, you will have 10 minutes one-to-one with our CEO Mike Norris. In this time, you have the opportunity to ask Mike just three questions, so make them count! Mike takes time out of his busy diary to meet each of you, so try and make your questions interesting, meaningful, and memorable.
Your panel interview will be with 2 or 3 members of the leadership team, where they will try to find out a bit more about you, why you want the role, and why you think you’re suitable for the role. The advice I’ll give here is to be honest and open, and try to pull on experiences from your academic, social and extracurricular life wherever possible. We aren’t just trying to recruit people that are perfect for the Associate programme, but want people that will suit Computacenter too.
The last chance you’ll get to impress the assessors is the famous “Why Me?” presentation. They’ll give you 5 minutes to use as you wish – make sure you leave a lasting impression and that they come away convinced that you are right for the Associate programme.
Come to the assessment centre prepared and ready to engage, but most of all try to enjoy it. At lunch, and throughout the day, current Associates will be on-hand, so don’t be afraid to chat to them and get some further advice.
Once the assessment centre’s finished, those that are successful will get a call from Mike Norris with the presumptive close of “see you in January”!
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions around applying for the Programme or the Programme in general, then please don’t hesitate to drop either of us an email.
Most importantly, enjoy it and good luck!
Service Management Associate
First off, thank you kindly to Priya for passing the baton (Olympics reference done) and teeing me up for this month’s Associate update. With the last 6 months capped off with our Half 1 presentations and a third of the programme complete, Priya and the vast majority of past associate bloggers were definitely right in saying that time is flying.
I thought I’d give a quick insight into the mind of a CC graduate one year out of university, mainly for those of you applying and to quell a popular a rumour about what happens after leaving university. As I waved goodbye to my final exams and started what my friends and previous graduates had called my last “proper” summer holiday, I started to prepare for years of looking back and ruing the fact that I’d finally have to work over the months of July and August. I can say with all honesty that this hasn’t been the case here at CC, and silly as it might sound, working hard, being challenged and engaging with all the different areas of the business has been infinitely better than lounging around a house for 3 months. Whilst every grad will look back to university fondly, the Associate Programme has been amazing to date and the “summer blues” that people talk about are nowhere to be seen.
This last month has been the first of our solutions rotations where we spend a month learning about a specific technology area, how this benefits our clients, and how we deliver these solutions to our customers. I was with the Workplace and Collaboration team this month, an area that has a direct and visible effect on the end user and in which Computacenter are market leaders. The key takeaway here was that the workplace is transitioning more and more towards becoming “digital”, with users demanding a more consumer like and flexible experience from work. As is often said, “Work is a thing you do, not a place you go” and seeing some of the collaboration technologies that are making that phrase a reality has been fantastic. Our customer experience centre does a great job of showcasing the vast amount of options for collaboration there are in the workplace now. With each business requiring different solutions to meet their workplace needs, our vendor agnosticism means that we can offer exactly what is required on a case by case basis and this rotation has really brought to life the value Computacenter add in being able to do this.
Looking beyond the technology, seeing the sheer scale of the transformation projects that Computacenter undertakes has been eye opening. Managing the deployment of tens of thousands of different devices, to different user groups, to different locations all across the UK and Europe not only showcases our logistical capability, but also shows that we’re able to tailor solutions like no other organisation.
We have many rotations ahead and the programme is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint (although somewhat of a marathon done at sprint speeds, maybe a 10K? Olympics references aren’t my forte) and we’re learning more and more with each passing day. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Workplace and Collaboration team again for getting us involved and giving us an insight into the changes that are happening within the digital workplace.
So to sum up and once again echo previous bloggers, time truly does fly here at CC. It won’t be long before we start to welcome the next round of Associates, who are already well under way with the application stages.
Next month we’ll hear from James and Callum who’ll talk about the latter stages of applying to the programme, so keep your eyes peeled for some insights and maybe even some tips on making it through!
Thanks for reading and for those bidding to become next year’s Associates, good luck!
The last 6 months have flown by, and without a doubt the programme has been an incredible journey. It is quite surreal to think I only joined Computacenter on the Associate Programme in January, as the saying goes ‘how time flies when you’re having fun’. I had the pleasure of meeting our new Industrial Placement students last week– a warm welcome to you all! I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect on the past 6 months and provide some tips for our new talent.
The feeling that time has gone quickly, really became apparent this month when we presented back to our Programme Sponsor at the end of H1 (Julie O’Hara for the Service Management Associates / Kevin James for the Sales Associates). With the wealth and depth of information to learn, and a new company to settle into, it was crucial to ASK! From something that needing clarifying, to understanding the meaning of an acronym (the million and one of them), everyone I have met along the way has been more than willing to help. The H1 review was a great opportunity to reflect on both my professional and personal journey with CC, coming from a not IT background I have surprised myself with how much I know now that I would have stared blankly at in January.
One of the best experiences so far has been the exposure to customer accounts. Last Tuesday I was involved in the launch of the Tech Bar as a pilot into Post Office. This was a really exciting experience being immersed into the Service Management Team at Post Office, who put me straight in the deep end of communicating the benefits with their end users, both a nerve wracking and exciting experience! It was great to meet the CIO, who was a huge advocate of this addition. My involvement here indicated that businesses are aware that IT is changing the way we live. Slowly but surely this is becoming more apparent in the work environment, with customers changing the face of IT using more engaging approaches that are accessible to their users.
Many of you will have seen that Computacenter were recognised as one of the Top Job Crowd Companies to work for as a Graduate. Along with a few associates, representing the Programme on this night was definitely a top highlight of the last 6 months (not just for the champagne I must add)! It is a testament to those that have been involved in the Programme and who have helped with our development, the culture of the company is one that has welcomed us and made us part of the team! Although the next 6 months will be challenging with new rotations, and new learning to come, it is evident already that the support around us is endless from our buddies, coaches, mentors and surrounding teams.
This week we welcome our new Graduates with Projects Practice to CC! Don’t let the pressure of trying to impress everyone become stressful, be enthusiastic and positive! Step outside of your comfort zone, take every opportunity to learn and understand how the company works (people love to talk about what they do, make the most of it)!
The next 6 months bring exciting times for all! Thanks for reading, next month we shall hear from Henry Lord.
In the spirit of alternating between Service & Sales associates, and following Bryony’s blog earlier this month, I now have the chance to get you caught up on what the Sales Associates have been up to. For anyone that has met me, my approach to telling this story will come as no surprise, we are going down a sports route!
Jessica closed off by talking about her rotations with Inside Sales, Bid Management & her Sector, TMT & Retail. I would like to take the opportunity to echo her comments in particular with respect to Bid Management. I too had the dawning realisation that I was owning and driving a bid for a real customer! Scary stuff but to pull out this blog’s first sporting reference, punch bags are all good, but you learn a lot when you take one on the jaw!
This leads me onto one thing I feel compelled to do, June saw the very sad passing of a legend, icon, champion, and visionary in and outside of the ring. Muhammad Ali is somebody I spent a lot of time watching over the last 10 years, and the world is a less talented place today than it was last week as I write this.
My blog will cover off three recent experiences the programme has given me; my time in sector, returning to my old department, Group Partner Management, and sharing the opportunities at Computacenter with university students.
Spending time with different Computacenter people, at numerous & varied customers has been a really insightful learning opportunity. Not only is what our customers do very different, the ways in which they work, the people we engage with and their goals and objectives are equally if not more different! The Associate programme is a great platform in allowing you to experience these differences and get an appreciation of the intricacies and nuances to overcome in the sales role. Much like the NFL quarterbacks of today, the small gaps they throw into, all the while being chased down by 300+ lbs defenders, selling is complex, with lots of moving parts. It’s making sure they all come together on time, that’s the key.
My most recent rotation took me back to Group Partner Management where my Computacenter journey started. This allowed me to really push myself into new areas of the technology stack. Workplace coupled with Unified Communications stand out to me as areas in which I really grew my understanding. I really appreciate the effort the teams made to help us as a cohort meet with both the GPM specialists, and the partners themselves. Equally, it’s always nice to see my former colleagues and catch up, however I’m not sure my ankles will ever look the same after one particular 5 a side session, you know who you are!
The recruitment process for the 2017 intake of Associates is about to begin. I had the real pleasure of joining Nathan & Lowri from the Service Management programme at my alma mater, Nottingham Trent University, for their graduate careers day. It was hard to believe we are already six months in! We spent the day selling to students the great opportunities here at Computacenter and got really some really positive interactions from students throughout the day, and we look forward to seeing some come through the recruitment process in the coming months. I am excited to be helping the next group of Associates through their programme, joining team Computacenter!
The programme is really flying by, up next, our presentations to Kevin James & senior sales management before heading out to grow our understanding of the Solutions business.
Next up we’ll be hearing from Priya.
First of all I would like to thank Hollie for the previous blog. The Services University was a great day and I’m sure everyone else enjoyed it just as much as I did.
I can hardly believe that I have already been at Computacenter for almost 5 months. Everyone said the time would fly by and believe me it has. It seems like only yesterday that we arrived, in our new suits, on January the 11th. When I said to my friends that I was becoming a Service Management Associate, I got a sea of blank faces. Even now I’m not sure they really know what I do! I think this is down to the fact that you can never really know what day you are going to have when you turn up at the office. This is what I really like about this job. The variety.
So before I carry on to tell you about my time so far at Computacenter, I will tell you a little bit about myself. Prior to starting at Computacenter, I lived in both Germany and the Netherlands before completing my degree in London. I recently returned from a 5 month backpacking trip through Asia and Australasia. So stepping into the Associate Programme was certainly stepping into the unknown!
But one of the really great things about working for Computacenter is you don’t necessarily have to have an IT background. All of us Service Management Associates have varying degrees and backgrounds from History to Geography. But this doesn’t hinder, rather enhance discussions and conversations. It is also nice to know that you are not the only one who is learning about the difference between Linux and Unix or Mainframes and Iseries.
All of us Service Management Associates are now on our second Home Account Rotation. We have all been placed on varying accounts. Myself on TFL and others on accounts such as NHS Worcester, UBS and VISA. Although these are all very varied accounts, I think all of us would agree that it is nice to be getting our hands dirty and learning more about what it will be like to become a Service Manager at the end of the Associate Programme.
I have really enjoyed the time that I have spent so far on TfL. I am able to get involved in the day to day events that take place on the account. From the daily service reviews to implementing new reporting methods. It is great to feel part of the team and put some of the theory that I have learnt into practice. Even though I am on the same account for a couple of weeks I am still learning from different areas, from the scheduling function, to the engineering function and also from different service providers on the account.
How could I complain whilst working in a location with this for a view?!
Whilst talking to other graduates on similar service management programmes this afternoon, I realised what an opportunity we have with Computacenter. We are lucky enough to be able to rotate around not only different accounts but also different areas of the business, meaning 18 months down the line when we become Service Managers, we really do understand the internal processes. We are able to learn from all of the people that we meet and build those all-important relationships for the future.
We have one week left on our home account rotations, before moving on to our Commercial and Governance Rotation. I am looking forward to learning about a new area of Computacenter and how this will help me in the future. Furthermore it will give all of us Service Management Associates a chance to work together again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, next month we will hear from Alex Griffin.