First of all a big thank you to Jess for last month’s insight into Inside Sales and Bid Management; as a Service Management Associate it’s great to hear what happens on the other side of the programme and what we have to look forward to on our Bid Management rotation in September.
When I graduated from the University of Southampton in the summer of 2014 in Management Sciences and Spanish I thought that my learning days were over. However, this has been far from the truth. Since starting at Computacenter in January I have been constantly listening, learning and trying to get my head around how vast and complex the business is. Two integral divisions within the company are GSD (Global Service Desk) and GIO (Global Infrastructure Operations), with whom I have spent the past month along with my fellow Service Management Associates. Understanding all aspects of Computacenter, and how they pull together to deliver a great service and delight our customers is fundamental to the programme and also my own future success.
My GSD rotation took me to Milton Keynes to spend two weeks with all the teams on the desk. I listened in to various calls to understand an average day in the life of an analyst, and also spoke to the Team Leaders and Operational Managers. This exposure has provided me with first-hand experience of the desk which will enable me to articulate the services we can provide to our customers. I am also now aware of the main pain points felt by the desk and how this relates to the pain felt by Contractual Services. As a group we also conducted a project to investigate the relationship between the Service Desk, Service Managers on each respective account and the Customer. It was apparent to us that these relationships are just as pivotal as any other I’ve come across, and reiterates how important it is to get to know the people you are working with at all levels within Computacenter.
This concept is also transferable to GIO, who like GSD are one of the company’s internal service providers. It is evident that good and effective communication drives the business to work together and consequently deliver excellent service rather than acting in silos, which is crucial to take into consideration as there are twenty-four service lines just within GIO. It’s safe to say that after spending two weeks meeting all the teams and learning about their different functions, my brain was a tiny bit overloaded with new information. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to applying this knowledge and utilising all the new relationships I’ve formed on my aligned home account – Hays Recruitment Specialists – one of the largest Managed Service accounts we have.
And if you thought my learning halted to a stop there, you’d be wrong! On Friday 13th May my University days were resurrected, when I attended the Services University which is hosted by our programme sponsor Julie O’Hara. The past two blogs have touched on the success of the Group Kick Off in Barcelona, which is for the sales side of the business; whereas this event is hosted for Service Management. Although we weren’t quite fortunate enough to jet off to sunny Barcelona, the sun did shine over the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow where the conference took place. Meeting early Friday morning, we enjoyed some bacon sandwiches and croissants whilst exploring the Knowledge Village – which gave the chance for our own internal service providers and additionally third party vendors to represent their business, position in the market and most importantly to engage with the Service Management community. This was probably the highlight of the day for myself, and when I asked Julie what she liked best about the day she told me that she also enjoys the vendor/ISP village – “it’s a great opportunity to catch-up with partners but to also meet and say hello to as many of our SM’s as possible”.
The day then started with a welcome from Julie before handing over to Kevin James, who marked his first time at Services University and gave an overview of 2015 and the future of 2016 from a sales perspective. Next we welcomed Michael Weiss all the way from Germany who looked at our strategy for the coming year; followed by John Beard who spoke about customer proximity and our podium customers. There was a warm welcome as Julie took back to the stage with Nat Ives, looking at our roadmap and accelerating change. Julie also highlighted that part of this change involved our own people and applauded all new starters (including us Associates!) and those going through the Services Academy and Career Development Board.
Julie touched on three main points when I asked her what she identified as the key takeaways for the Service Management community from the day: the ‘One Customer, one team’ approach; customer satisfaction and also learning, saying that “we are all continuing to learn and we have to learn and adapt – whether that be knowledge of the market; customers; industry; ourselves! Having a PDP helps us stay focused on moving forwards individually and therefore as a team. Be inquisitive and inspired to learn and grow”. It’s very clear that Julie is a big driver in personal development and it’s great to recognise this in our programme sponsor.
With all this talk of change we had a lecture hosted by Joel Anderson where we were encouraged to take a moment and think about change, and how to positively channel our energy to embrace change as an opportunity and to successfully adapt to the fast pace of the industry. We also had a commercial lecture led by Fraser Phillips, Julian Wase and James March, and Neil Eke covered the Joining the Dots lecture which drew attention to the need to join up Contractual and Professional Services.
The sessions were wrapped up by Mike Norris who spoke about our financial position last year and long-term aspirations of the company, inspiring success in everyone present. Afterwards, we all turned into Superheroes (quite literally with Julie appearing as Batman), we sat down for some food and drinks to celebrate everyone’s hard work over the past year and held a ceremony to give the most deserved accounts and Service Managers awards. However, it’s not just about the winners as Julie tells me, “it’s a great opportunity to recognise exceptional team and individual performances. The decision about the winners can be hard, but even being nominated is a huge achievement”. It’s no surprise that the evening was a huge success and I’m already looking forward to next year!
All in all the Services University was a fantastic day and for me personally, a brilliant opportunity to network and have the chance to put some faces to names and also meet Service Managers on other accounts. To finish off I’ll leave you with a few words from our TMT & Retail Services Director Paul McAulay, which I think nicely sum up what the event is all about:
“The point of the day is to get all of the teams together and have an impact. We want everyone to know what we are trying to do and to understand how massive the opportunity is. We have the opportunity to be part of something special that other parts of the business don’t have, to be engaged and be better.”
Thank you all for reading, next month we’ll hear from Bryony Cooper.
Thank you Greg for kicking off the blog last month. Now it’s my turn to tell you about my first few months in Computacenter. I remember when applying to the programme how much I wanted to know exactly what the job of a Sales Associate entailed. Now I know there is no way of easily describing it, given that it changes every month! This edition of the blog will therefore focus on the first two rotations I’ve been through: Inside Sales and Bid Management, to hopefully help any prospective applicants get a better picture of what we do. Before I dive in, I would like to tell you a little bit more about myself. My name is Jessica and I come from France. I studied Maths and Physics at Durham University, and I graduated from an Erasmus Mundus masters in Biology in August last year, so this is my first step into the real world of work. For me, the Associate Programme is an incredible experience to get visibility throughout the business and develop an invaluable professional network. When reflecting on my first three months in Computacenter, I have already come a long way, from being a student to a professional, but I also feel like there is so much left for me to learn. Over the three months so far, the highlight of my time at Computacenter is still without doubt the Kick Off in Barcelona, where I got a first taste of Computacenter’s Winning Together values.
As Greg said last month, the race is on for a FMES jacket!
After spending a month in the TMT & Retail team, getting to know the various customers and understanding the different roles within a sector, I set off for my rotation in Inside Sales. The TMT and Retail Customer Executives are mainly based in Reading, the land of free toast, where I spent most of my rotation.
I sat with many CEs, learning to place orders and quotes, raise material requests and ask for Proof of Delivery. Not only did I get to grips with the administrative tasks, and hopefully help out more than hindered with all my OneTouch related questions, but I also realised how much more the Customer Execs are responsible for. They are generally the first point of contact with the customer for queries, and they are the people who manage on a daily basis what goes through the account. They know about products, distribution, delivery processes and much more. The aim for this rotation was to allow us, the new Sales Associates, to understand the internal process which underpins every sale Computacenter makes. It was also a great opportunity to build a relationship with Inside Sales teams, for us to be able to work with them best in the future.
Following this rotation, I came back to Hatfield to spend a month in Bid Management. I was told this was an intense rotation and I was not disappointed. From day one, before even having our rotation induction, I was asked to run a Kick Off meeting for a bid. After the initial “Oh my god I don’t know what I’m doing!” panic moment, I got started. The role of a Bid Manager is, amongst others, to make sure all elements of a bid are written (management summaries, responses to questions etc) and put together on time. This requires a lot of chasing people up, along with the management of many versions of an excel spreadsheet. Overall, I was given two live bids to manage, and two other bids to help out on, therefore time management and organisational skills are a must for getting through this rotation.
Since starting at Computacenter, I already feel that I’m starting to build a better understanding of the company and the IT industry, through vendor accreditations and the Knowledge Programme. One of the most exciting aspects of the Associate Programme is the exposure we get to the rest of the company. Not only will we work in most areas of the business, but we also have the opportunity to meet with the senior management team. So far having met Amir Klaus and Mike Rodwell, I’ve learnt to never accept a challenge at noughts and crosses when the person opposite knows more than you do, and that incredibly, the iPad has only been around 6 years, making the next 6 years in the IT industry very exciting indeed…
Thanks for reading and next month we’ll hear from Hollie Cousins.
Hello everyone and welcome to the very first Computacenter blog from AP16. It’s that time of the year where we, the new intake of Sales and Service Management Associates, start our Computacenter journey and keep you regaled each month with tales of our exploits throughout the company and what we’ve learnt along the way.
I would like to start by taking the opportunity to thank the class of 2015 for doing a fantastic job at maintaining the blog and providing us with their thought provoking and insightful views on Computacenter, the graduate programme and everything in between.
Before I go on to talk about the whirlwind which has been our first weeks of induction culminating with the Group Kick Off, which was a brilliant introduction to Computacenter, I would like to take a moment to introduce the new batch of associates.
Alex Griffin, Harry Walkden, Henry Lord, Jessica Savage, James Crook, Jos Pralle, Lewis Troughton, Greg Simpson
Bryony Cooper, Callum Hepworth, Dominic Saunders, Hollie Cousins, Lowri Davies, Nathan Gill, Priya Dale
You can view our biogs on Browzaplus if you haven’t seen them already!
So what did our first month entail? After being kitted out with our new laptops and I-phones, we spent our first week drawing on the experience of people from all over the business. It is a testament to the value attributed to this programme from people in the company that I can say that I don’t have the word count to mention everyone who was involved, but on behalf of all of us I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who gave their time sharing their personal journeys through Computacenter, introducing us to the different parts of the business and beginning to train us in all the skills we need to be a success here.
From the weeks that followed, highlights include SDI training with Jes Chandi, where we learnt a lot about ourselves and each other, a day spent learning about supply chain, a tour of the automated warehouse at Hatfield, where we were all highly impressed by the scale and complexity of the infrastructure there and two days of top sales training with Mark Griffin where we learnt about the art of selling, the difference between Smurfs and Jedis, and the importance of language in communication.
Our first month culminated with the Sales Associates boarding a plane and jetting off to Barcelona to attend the first ever group kick off. None of us really knew what to expect and we were blown away by the magnitude of the event. The vendor village gave us an amazing opportunity to meet our partners for the first time, begin to build relationships with them and really understand the value and services which they have to offer. A stand out from Group Kick Off was hearing our chairman Greg Lock talk about what it is to be a good sales person, how appropriate for us. Of course the jewel in the crown was the awards ceremony on the Saturday evening and it was here that we got our first tangible sense of the community values which bind everyone at Computacenter together, the pride we have for each other’s achievements and the passion to succeed and win together. I can tell you that all of the Sales Associates have our minds firmly set on receiving our own FMES jacket (the race is on!).
Nothing in my mind underpins the ‘family’ values which make Computacenter so special more than the awarding of these jackets; a ceremony made even more poignant due to the presence of our founders Phillip Hulme and Peter Ogden. The pure, unbridled pride and delight shown, not only by the recipients of these coveted prizes, but by everyone in the room, roaring and cheering their colleagues on was powerful and at times overwhelming. It proved that the concept of ‘Winning Together’ is not just a clever tag line; but is a real, physical code of conduct by which everyone here at Computacenter lives by.
Wow! What an opportunity we have as Associates to learn, grow and develop here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, next month we will hear from Jessica Savage.
Welcome to the last instalment of the 2015 Associates blog. What better opportunity than to reflect, and give you an overview of my first year at Computacenter.
This year has absolutely flown by. Looking back to when I first joined I was new to the IT industry, was unsure how a large business worked and had little knowledge about what the role I had applied for looked like… what was I getting myself into!? What I believed however, was that I would be joining a programme that would help me through these unknowns and set me on the right path on my journey… I was not wrong!
I was barely four weeks into the programme before I was whisked away to Celtic Manor for the UK Kick-Off. This was the point when I really understood what Computacenter is all about. A weekend of intense learning and vendor engagement followed by England vs Wales at the Milennium Stadium, the awards ceremony and an introduction to the FMES jacket (which I now know stands for Full Margin Equivalent Sales). This was a big highlight at the beginning of the programme and a true representation of how Computacenter Inspires Success.
Onto the programme… I split our time into three areas:
- Understanding the Business
- Understanding the Industry
- Understanding the Role/Customer
Understanding the Business
Although you are continually learning about all three, I think the H1 rotations were all around understanding the business, the way it operates and an insight into how Computacenter meets the requirements of our customers. There was a lot more to it than just understanding the different business functions though. For me, this was about Understanding People Matter. People have been more than willing to assist myself and my colleagues, a really strong value of Computacenter’s that I will certainly emulate going forward.
Understanding the Industry
During H2 we were expected to understand the industry and how Computacenter align our propositions. I spent time going through the traditional lines of business; where I soaked up the knowledge and wisdom of specialists, sales managers and chief technologists regarding the industry, how it’s evolved and why Computacenter are well placed for the future. I felt lost when terms such as two-speed IT, cloud, Industry 4.0 and software-defined were being discussed, but again, the people within the business were there to guide me through. By Being Straightforward I was able to digest an increasingly complicated industry.
Understanding the role/customer
What struck me as an organisation is how we really do Put Customers First. The associates are all aligned to a sector/line of business, where we spend time within our team to learn the role and how to navigate within customers. What’s evident within each sector is our understanding of our customer’s business which, as Harry mentioned in the previous blog, is a necessity in order to provide the right solution for our customers.
“Best of breed is not always the right answer, the latest and greatest is not always the most sensible choice and instead it is our job to cast a critical eye over our customer’s business needs and construct a solution that is proven to help them on their IT journey”
On reflection, what has stood out to me are the ‘Winning Together’ values that symbolise Computacenter. This first year has been a great introduction into the business, thank you to you all for your time and effort, we all appreciate it. Thanks for reading, I now pass the baton over to the 2016 Associates.
Sales Associate, Industry Sector
The Channel Challenge
Welcome to the New Year and a new associate’s blog to get 2016 off and running. In our last blog of 2015 we heard James Cruickshank waxing lyrically about why he chose a career in IT and how he relishes the thrill of keeping apace with the relentless speed of technological change. I thought I’d take this theme further and hone in on Computacenter’s partners – our vendors and the wider eco-system within which we operate. The immersion in our partners of choice has formed a big part of my year at Computacenter and will continue to form the bedrock of my career, so I thought I would take this chance to muse on the stormy sea we swim in. How do we work with our major partners? Which technologies do we back to thrive? And most importantly, how do we help our clients navigate their way through a complex web of technologies and emerge from the vendor maze with a solution that best fits them?
At Computacenter we offer our customers services and solutions that are best of breed and best of need. However, this presents us with the perpetual challenge of staying on top of emerging technology and keeping abreast with how our key strategic partners are evolving. Large organisations are in a constant state of change and some of our biggest partners: Microsoft, HP (recently separated) and IBM are 3 of the biggest players on a global scale. Therefore, as IT professionals we have it as our raison d’être to work closely with our partners to ensure their prime products (that are a result of millions of pounds of investment coupled with some of the brightest minds in IT!) are projected into the market space. We also have to continually deliver value to our customers by keeping them up to speed with how the latest technological advances can assist their business, drive competitive advantage for them and enable their users to work more effectively. Consequently, a large part of our job, and one that can be both fascinating and frightening, is keeping our finger firmly on the pulse of technological change.
Vendors, IT manufacturers to laymen, are a particularly favourable topic at this time of year as January sees our annual celebration of another successful year at Computacenter driven in large by great harmony with our strategic partners. HP, now split into two entities to better divide and conquer, are the chief sponsors of the event and consequently their latest offerings will take centre stage. As such, we will all seize the opportunity to learn about the technologies HP have developed that will enable our customers to move through 2016 armed with the best equipped Enterprise infrastructure and End-user devices. Nevertheless, at our Kick Off we have a two day vendor village that provides Computacenter the opportunity to host all the key players in the IT world educating us on how their products can best enable our customers. To offer a valuable service we must both be an expert in our customers and our partners.
As you can imagine, the wealth of knowledge can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when many of the vendors overlap in the same space and all have nuanced competitive messages to drive home. This therefore, is our chief purpose: to sift through the noise and make a professional decision on what is the optimum technology for our customer’s use case. Best of breed is not always the right answer, the latest and greatest is not always the most sensible choice and instead it is our job to cast a critical eye over our customer’s business needs and construct a solution that is proven to help them on their IT journey. For whilst investors take a position on emerging IT companies all the time, it is not something that we and our customers can afford to do.
Computacenter can boast a long existence, which is an accolade in itself in such a volatile industry, and it has achieved this longevity by constantly delivering long term customer value. This long term customer value has been accomplished by remaining ‘un-dazzled’ by the bright lights of flashy tech and staying committed to long term proven results. So this weekend in Barcelona I’m sure we will all have our sunglasses on!
Have a great year, keep a weather eye on the technological horizon and bear in mind that the latest does not always mean the greatest!
So why choose IT as a career?
Welcome to the November edition of the associate’s blog, I’m James Cruickshank, a sales associate aligned to the Majors sector. A few weeks ago, as part of Computacenter’s graduate recruitment drive, myself and a few other associates represented Computacenter at a university careers fair promoting CC’s graduate programmes and placements. Whilst there, a common question asked by students was why choose IT as a career? Therefore this month I’m going to talk about IT and why, although an industry that can be overlooked by graduates, it’s a great place to be for any new graduate or school leaver seeking a challenging, dynamic and exciting career.
Firstly, as technology continues to develop, so does the IT industry. New products and innovative solutions entering the market mean the industry is a very fast-moving and dynamic one. Technological developments such as the emergence of cloud and mobility based technologies, for example, have changed the ways in which people work and interact with each other. The fluidness of the market means that as IT professionals we never stop learning and are constantly presented with new challenges. From a personal perspective, being part of an industry that in five years, let alone ten, will be a very different one to now is a very exciting prospect.
Secondly, because IT is an essential component for businesses to optimise efficiency and maintain competitive advantage, it gives IT professionals the opportunity to be at the forefront of some of the world’s largest organisations, recommending, implementing and maintaining the most effective IT solutions. To put the scale and importance of IT in business into context, 20 million British workers currently use some form of IT every day as part of their job. For me personally, having the opportunity to influence the future of large corporations was a crucial factor that drew me to the industry and Computacenter. I’ve certainly not been disappointed as so far I’ve been lucky enough to have been exposed some very high-profile projects where Computacenter are visibly shaping the future of some of the UK’s largest organisations.
Last but not least IT is a great career because it’s FUN! Sure, we work hard but we like to enjoy ourselves along the way. Being on the associate programme I’ve been fortunate enough to rotate across the business, attending numerous Computacenter and industry events. One example of this was the sector volleyball tournament, a great way to have fun and bond with colleagues outside of the office.
Above all, IT maybe wasn’t where I expected I’d end-up but, after 11 months at Computacenter I haven’t looked back. Being on the associate programme, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have received a second to none introduction to the industry.
If you’re considering it, take the plunge and apply, you won’t regret it!
In the life of a Service Management Associate
Thank you for watching. Apologies for the song choice!
Next month we will hear from our sales associate aligned to the Major Accounts – James Cruickshank.
Service Management Associate