Group Service Take-on: Managing Successful Change To Enhance Customer Experience

As part of Customer Experience Day (#CXDay2020) on 6th October 2020, we will be sharing a number of blog posts which highlights our approach to customer experience, ensuring the customer is always at the heart of everything we do.

Our customers are facing unprecedented demand for a change in how IT services are delivered to their users. Transitioning a customer from a legacy IT provider to a new IT service can have many complexities and unforeseen challenges.

In this article, we share two Service Desk examples where Computacenter have adapted and delivered new services, with customer experience very much at the forefront.  

Implementing a new dedicated Service Desk in Cape Town

This service desk had to support 28,000 end users across 500 locations and provide a new portal to enable multi-channel service access, aimed at improving the end user experience.

Three weeks prior to the planned cutover date of 1st April 2020, Computacenter had to design, implement and test a new home-based infrastructure solution to enable all the Service Desk staff to work remotely from home. This was the first time that Computacenter had ever implemented a home-based working solution for a dedicated IT Service Desk, and it was successfully implemented on the planned cutover date.

Key to success:

  1. Diligence and flexibility – Computacenter’s ability and foresight were cited by the customer as ever-changing working patterns became a fundamental project success factor.  
  2. Seamless transition – Service levels exceeded expectations right from the onset with customer stakeholders praising Computacenter’s interactions throughout the process resolving challenges collaboratively and with the User experience headlining the outcomes      

User experience continues to be enhanced with use of the Self-Service functionality – including access to Knowledge articles, web chats with desk agents and self-logging of incidents has increased since the cutover. 

Cutting over a new virtual Service Desk and Service Desk Portal

The second customer example required remote working for the joint project team from the design stage through to implementation into service, with no impact on timescales.

Computacenter cut over a new virtual Service Desk and Service Desk Portal (in South Africa, Spain and Malaysia) for 5,000 users across 23 countries in five languages (English, French, German, Business Chinese and Italian) with the Major Incident Management service, as a “big bang” Go Live. Change Management followed one week later in August 2020.

Key to success:

  1. Intelligent adaptive design – Computacenter’s ‘hothouse’ approach to engaging customer stakeholders with the outcome to agree simple IT service interactions for users attracted positive results
  2. Highly collaborative – Joint service readiness testing was comprehensive and complimented by Computacenter’s structured approach to controlling scope through Change Management.

The elapsed time for the project was ahead of schedule enabling early adoption. The average daily percentage of self-service contacts made by end users has already exceeded target.

Streamlining the onboarding process for Service Desk staff

In the last year, Computacenter has streamlined its onboarding process for new Service Desk staff.

Further opportunities for simplifying the tools, technology, testing and integration required for our transitions are being investigated. We have recognised that the way in which customers work will not return to how things were prior to the pandemic. 

Therefore, in order to enhance end-user and customer experience we need to continually adapt to help our customers manage change as seamlessly as possible. 


On-premises or public cloud: how do you choose?

Almost every organisation in the world is aware of the benefits that the public cloud has to offer, but most of them still prefer an on-premises environment for their workload. They weigh the advantages of a public cloud solution against the risks and decide that security and control are too important to give up. However, the question should not be what to choose, but how to ensure that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

The public cloud has convinced enterprise leaders in all industries. According to a survey by 451 Research, commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a staggering 97% of more than one thousand questioned IT decision-makers think the public cloud is a positive experience. Despite this clear belief in public cloud solutions, many enterprises keep their workload located on an on-premises infrastructure.

Even when they decide to shift to a public cloud, they often return their data to a private environment after encountering the many pitfalls of this new world. Not every organisation is the same, so choosing the right cloud environment can be different for every company. That’s why we must look at the main benefits and disadvantages of private and public clouds. Which path is the right one for your organisation?

Public cloud

We start with the public cloud. Why are so many enterprises convinced that shifting to the public cloud would offer them amazing benefits that could transform their business?

  • Organisations need to keep their IT budget under control. Especially after the COVID-19 crisis, cost-efficiency will be an important factor in all business decisions. But IT is also more than ever the backbone of any organisation. A public cloud solution enables companies to simplify their IT and pay for what they use. In a private environment, businesses often invest in more capacity than what they need, just to be on the safe side.
  • To keep up with changes, organisations should be able to respond quickly to trends and developments. In an on-premises infrastructure, IT often slows down the business. It can take months to deploy a new solution and this is an eternity for a modern company. In a public cloud, resources are hosted on the premises of the service provider. Enterprises can access new resources whenever they want.

Public cloud environments are saving organisations time and money, both essential ingredients to flourish in this rapidly changing world. On the downside, you can only enjoy the full potential of the public cloud if your company is willing to give up control over security and compliance. It is no surprise that those are the most important characteristics of an on-premises infrastructure.

Private cloud

The lack of control in a public cloud environment already makes it clear why companies continue to work with a purely private infrastructure, although this is by far the most expensive option.

Some organisations have no choice but to run their applications locally:

  • In a private environment, organisations are in control of all data. They decide where this information is kept, who has access and how it is used. Privacy concerns and strict regulations are important reasons why companies hesitate to shift data to a public cloud. Especially if your enterprise is operating in a highly regulated industry, you need an extreme level of control over your assets.
  • Sensitive information should always be handled with care. This is no guarantee when data is stored in a public cloud environment. Your organisation would depend on the cloud provider to ensure the security of the data. In some sectors, such as the banking industry, the sensitivity of data is simply too important to risk security issues. Ultimately, the loss of data can be much more expensive than missing out on the financial benefits of a public cloud solution.

Security, compliance and privacy are the main reasons why companies want to retain control of their data. It is of course frustrating that they have to miss out on the profit and flexibility that a public cloud computing model would offer them. So what if we tell you that there is a way to enjoy these benefits without giving up control?

Hybrid cloud

Many organisations already use a multi-cloud approach. This means that they are running more than one private and/or public cloud solution. An even better strategy is migrating to a hybrid world. This would allow you to shift applications to a third-party public cloud environment and keep specific data or tools within a secure on-premises infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud solution provides companies with the control they need to ensure security, privacy and compliance, and it still gives them access to the financial benefits and the flexibility of the public cloud. Especially if your company is using a lot of sensitive data, a hybrid cloud can open a new world of opportunities. It ensures faster, simpler and more cost-efficient IT while your IT department is still pulling all the strings. A consumption-based model that focuses on your needs allows you to pay only for what you use.

To discover how your company can benefit from a hybrid cloud solution, you can rely on the expertise of a trusted IT partner. Computacenter introduces its customers to HPE GreenLake as an effective consumption-based model. Do you want to know how you can also benefit from this solution?  

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 pitfalls to avoid when moving your business to the cloud

Moving to the cloud has become a necessity for most organisations. Although companies understand the benefits of the cloud, a significant proportion of them decide to return their workloads to a private environment. Why? Concerns about security and lack of control are two important explanations. In this blog we describe the most common pitfalls to avoid when shifting to the cloud. We also explain how to solve these issues and still enjoy the full potential of cloud solutions.

The cloud is an essential aspect of every business strategy that focuses on digital transformation, but it also appears to be a very difficult exercise. An IDC report recently indicated that 80% of companies are expected to repatriate workloads that were primarily part of a public cloud environment. The research states that about half of public applications are expected to repatriate to an on-premises environment over the next two years. The most important reasons are security and performance, but also costs and lack of control.

Moving to the cloud can indeed be extremely challenging for organisations. Here are some of the main pitfalls to avoid:

1. Lack of Vision

Cloud transformation may seem like a technical challenge at first sight, but it will have an impact on the entire company. It can change the way a business operates in many different areas. Think of budgets, productivity, daily operations and development. That’s why a shift to the cloud should always start at the top floor of an organisation. The IT department must be fully supported by the board and have access to all the necessary resources.

Unless the management of the company understands both the benefits and risks of moving to the cloud, this process will almost certainly fail. The cloud holds many mysteries, even for well-trained IT employees. It is a good idea to support them with advice from cloud experts and consultants, especially if you want to avoid the other pitfalls we are about to explain.

A powerful cloud strategy also involves thinking about which workloads can be moved to the public cloud and which workloads require a more private environment. The benefits of the cloud are often so attractive that companies forget to think carefully about the risks.

2. Security Risks

This brings us to the most main reason why, according to a 451 Research commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two-thirds of the workload is still located on-premises despite the fact that a majority of companies agree that the cloud offers a positive experience. Data breaches are common news and companies invest a lot of money in the protection of their infrastructure.

Storing data and important files on external services always exposes organisations to new risks.

Of course, you can expect a cloud service provider to handle sensitive information with care and create an highly secure environment. But lack of control is a real concern for many enterprises when shifting workloads to the public cloud. Security issues can cost companies a fortune and the reputational damage can even be beyond repair.

Here are some things to consider when you switch to a public cloud strategy:

  • Make clear decisions about who is supposed to have access to specific data and resources. Not all employees should be able to see all information stored in the cloud.
  • Always take a risk-based approach when moving assets to the cloud. This also involves securing the devices used to access a cloud environment.
  • Encryption is key to all your actions.
  • Train your team to understand how to mitigate security concerns in the cloud.

3. Underestimating Costs

Cost efficiency is one of the greatest benefits of a public cloud environment, but many enterprises still underestimate the investment that is required. Providers will usually not charge any costs for the implementation of data, but the transfer can take you several weeks depending on the volume of the data. Many organisations also buy more storage space than what they need.

As the footprint of technology in all businesses continues to grow, companies need a model that develops in alignment with their technological life-cycle. In the end, a 100% public cloud strategy will not always be the most cost-efficient solution. Security is one reason to carefully consider which workloads can run in public and private cloud environments, but cost is definitely another important factor to keep in mind.

4. Compliancy and privacy issues

Security and compliancy are closely related. Especially when you are dealing with sensitive and personal data, changing regulations about privacy are a real concern. Think about the strict privacy rules that are imposed by GDPR obligations. Many enterprise lose track of their data in the public cloud and don’t know who has access. This lack of control can be a real nightmare as you don’t want to risk irregularities. Sanctions are very expensive, but once again reputational damage might be the highest price to pay.

The more data, software and tools an organisation uses, the more challenging compliancy becomes. IT must be able to monitor the tools that are used and where the data is located.

The solution: hybrid cloud

These concerns are the main motivations for companies to return their data to a more private, on-premises environment. Of course, the benefits of cloud solutions are extremely important to remain competitive and to successfully transform your business. This is why many organisations are now discovering the potential of a hybrid cloud solution.

Control is an important aspect of this hybrid cloud environment. It allows an organisation to move part of its applications to the public cloud, while another part remains private. This enables the IT department to stay in control of the most critical operations. They can manage all data and establish protocols for how particular data should be handled. A hybrid cloud environment is also a very scalable solution that will significantly lower IT costs. A purely private cloud is often extremely expensive and time consuming.

In short, hybrid cloud solutions combine the security and control of an on-premises environment with the versatility of public cloud computing. To find the best strategy for your organisation, you can seek professional assistance of a dedicated IT partner. Computacenter has the expertise to understand your needs and introduce a hybrid cloud solution that will benefit your company in the short and in the long run.

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 trends that are shaping our future

At the start of 2020 I was thinking about our customers, our partners and the market.  I was trying to identify the key trends that are, or will, impact all these areas.  In the course of that reflection, I came up with 4 key words describing this complex dynamic.  Those four words were Velocity, Vulnerability, Sustainability and Experience.

What I hadn’t foreseen or accounted for was Covid-19, and the impact this would have upon our customers, our partners, the market and the wider world.  But when I think about the past 5-6 months, I think there’s a context (somewhat different to that which I’d intended!) that gives those 4 words a powerful relevance and meaning.

That aside, as this isn’t another blog about Covid-19 – I see people, and businesses starting to plan and look towards their future.  These trends feel as relevant now as they ever did, perhaps even more so.

I thought I would share my view of how I see the market, expressed through these 4 words.  But before you read on, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this short video should hopefully set the tone for what I’m about to write:


Industries are changing at an incredible pace.  Look at the technology market as an example, but the same applies in retail, manufacturing, public services and beyond.  We used to call this “digital transformation”, that term is fatigued now – but nonetheless it’s true that the pace of change is un-abating.  What this means to our customers (or ourselves) is that the ‘time to follow’ is so much reduced from what it was before – literally in some instances from months and years to days and weeks.  This creates tension and challenge, as much more that we must deal with is “new”, and there’s no established blueprint or playbook.   This does however create the opportunity in co-creation and partnerships, identifying and leveraging specific expertise to unlock value and creativity to deliver the innovative outcomes that our customers demand and that offer us competitive advantage…. for the short while that that lasts!


It would be easy to presume that I mean Vulnerability as a proxy for Security.  Security is paramount, particularly in the context of the changes we see in the world and in the technology landscape.  But I see vulnerability as a far more profound issue.  It covers the full breadth of impacts and disruption that organisations face, that they did not choose nor often foresee (look at Covid-19).  Every business, every person, everything is vulnerable, so the mitigation to this is to be flexible and adaptable.  Those that are flexible and adaptive can potentially thrive, whilst those that appear strong today, but are inflexible will not.  Time has offered us many examples that prove this to be true – Blockbusters, Kodak etc.  You cannot eliminate vulnerability, but it can be managed and reduced.


This is SUCH a huge topic now.  Sustainability/CSR or whatever label you wish to apply has, in recent years, moved from being a peripheral consideration to something that sits at the heart of businesses’ identity and values.  Consumers, partners, suppliers are no longer expecting, they are demanding that organisations operate responsibly and in a value driven way within their communities and ecosystems.  When it comes to partnering, businesses will choose to work with organisations that share similar visions and values and will penalise those that do not.  This topic is not just about “green credentials” – sustainability is about supporting communities and people – themes of equity and inclusivity start to be introduced (check out the concept of the “Triple Bottom Line“).

I speak to many large organisations with “big visions” for their future, and for the world.  Being aligned to these visions and supporting them is not optional anymore.


I have spent a lot of time talking about experience from the perspective of Workplace solutions.  This is still relevant, providing great Employee Value is key in the ongoing war for talent we see across markets and industries.  It has been proven that providing a great place to work leads to better customer satisfaction, leads to better returns, and the cycle continues.  The trend of experience also encompasses the experience of the consumer of the services.  Providing compelling and engaging services and touch points is imperative in the battle for the consumer.  We all see, experience and act on this in our home lives – we are increasingly intolerant of poor experiences or those that do not meet our expectations.  A relentless focus on experience, both internally and externally is key to success.


When I think back to all the conversations I’ve had with customers, they anchor back to one or more of these trends.  There are nuances by industry as you would expect, but they form a bedrock to help understand the challenges and opportunities businesses face as they look towards their future.

Coming next…. Our response and role in helping to respond to these challenges will feature in upcoming blogs.  In the meantime, check out the  insights from our UK Chief Technologists in our latest publication.

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.

Helen Croft, 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 Helen Croft, Workplace Solution Specialist, who reflects on her rewarding career with Computacenter so far.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Helen Croft, a Workplace Solution Specialist at Computacenter. 

I joined the Computacenter team back in 2012, following a 10-year career at Bank of America where I was lucky enough to work across several roles, both at individual contributor and leadership levels. During this time I was given the opportunity to work with some phenomenal people, developing their skills and shaping their careers, as well as my own.

Supporting others has always been incredibly important to me, and the pride I felt in my early career years in seeing others develop and progress – while still developing myself – will stay with me forever.  

My Computacenter career so far

I started my time at Computacenter as an Inside Sales Manager back in January 2012, leading two regional internal sales teams who were providing daily support to customers globally.

The team were truly a pleasure to lead; focused, determined, and with absolute drive to strive forwards and deliver exceptional service to our customers. For 4 consecutive years the team progressed, strengthening and growing as a team both in terms of performance and indeed as a group of people genuinely stronger by being a collective. 

One of my proudest moments, in 2015, was when the team were recognised as Inside Sales Team of the Year for their 2014 performance. A fundamental moment for the team and an incredible moment at our annual Sales Kick Off. 

On stage at the Computacenter Group Kick Off event in 2015

In 2016 I took the opportunity myself to join our customer facing sales force, moving into the workplace specialism that I’m still working in today, supporting our customers with workplace services and solutions.   

Moving into the sales team presented a different dynamic; moving towards a unique contributor role, and allowing me to personally explore my true potential within sales. This is an opportunity I have relished, enjoying the customer facing interaction, virtual team orchestration, whilst still working with teams of people to deliver customer outcomes. 

Working through the Coronavirus crisis

2020 has been an interesting year to date. COVID19 has of course impacted a number of plans, but the relationships I have with customers has allowed me to continue progressing our various sales opportunities. I’ve also been incredibly proud to mentor a number of newer sales people into the Computacenter team, and am honored to be nominated in the CRN Women in Channel Awards.

This is incredibly humbling as a sales person, and I am so unbelievably proud to represent the sales team for Computacenter at the CRN awards; it’s also something I hope will help to inspire my two little ladies, Katie and Chloe.   

Nita Voralia, 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 Nita Voralia, Principal Consultant for Workplace and Collaboration, who reflects on her nomination and the work she’s done that has lead her here.

Nita Voralia, a Principal Consultant within Computacenter‘s UK Consultancy division, has been nominated for an award at this year’s CRN Women In Channel Awards in the Unsung Hero Category. Being the only female consultant within the Workplace Collaboration Presales and Architecture Team, she is a huge advocate for women within the sector: “Women in IT should be celebrated,” she says. “I feel that women too have a huge contribution to make.”

In her current role, she both designs and delivers solutions for our based on their individual business requirements. She also takes on presales activities, assisting our solution specialists with putting together costings and proposals for new opportunities. Amazingly, she’s been with Computacenter for over 25 years.

“The roles I have been in during my time here have been both technically focused and challenging, and the solutions and feedback I have received over the years both from customers and colleagues alike has definitely contributed to my CRN Women In Channel Award nomination.”

This isn’t her first award recognition though, having received a silver award for an assignment that was delivered outside of the UK and more recently, earning a nomination for the Computacenter High Performance achievement award.

“I don’t seek the limelight for any work that I do, I just feel that everything should be delivered to the best of my capability; whether that is for a customer or assisting a colleague.” I strongly feel that the work should always be of a high standard.

When she found out about her nomination for the CRN Women In Channel Awards 2020, she was very surprised, and never expected to be nominated! “I feel I’m representing the UK Consultancy practice. I am deeply humbled, honoured and immensely proud to have been nominated.”

Outside of work, Nita helps look after a family member who has Asperger’s syndrome; something that has it’s challenging moments for her. This hasn’t stopped her though, and she still puts her heart and soul into her work. “It helps me overcome a lot of things. In fact, it’s made me more resilient than ever!”

Sharing My Story: Maxi Lawrence, 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 first blog in this series is written by Maxi Lawrence, International Programme Manager, who wanted to share a life-changing experience that she’s recently been through.

Whilst being at home during lockdown, I wanted to use this opportunity to tell you my very personal and positive story; a story of unexpected events, mental strength & fear and fundamental gratitude.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Maxi Lawrence, 38 years old, grew up in Germany but live in the UK, married and mother of two strong minded little ladies. I am a Programme Manager and have been with Computacenter for 8 years now.  

Maxi Lawrence CRN Women In Channel Award 2020 Nominee

I am hoping I can not only raise awareness, especially in current times, but more importantly offer my support and help to anyone who is going through similar experiences or needs someone to support them.

My story began with a proactive check-up with no symptoms, triggered by a tragic story of my sisters’ friend who was very unexpectedly diagnosed with a football sized tumour aged 42 in her bowel, and ended up being the most challenging, testing, humbling and lucky experience of my life so far.

What the consultant found was a surprise and concern to us all as a family: a very large polyp in my lower bowel. He took some biopsies, sent me immediately for an MRI and CT scan and referred me to a specialist team of experts.

The verdict was the polyp needed removing as soon as possible as well as a need for further checks. After a successful removal and weeks of waiting, I received a message to meet the consultant in person, immediately knowing there was more to this.  

Thankfully, the majority was good news, however there was a small section of cancerous cells which had started to grow in the polyp. The safety margin was small, and the team could only give me 96% assurance that nothing had started to spread. The solution was major surgery. They had to remove 30cm of my bowel.

“Life can be short, so go for what you want to achieve, don’t be scared to take risks and make tough decisions.”

Maxi Lawrence, Computacenter uk

After asking the team what I could do in preparation for my op, I was advised to be as fit as possible. I increased my already active lifestyle with more running, regular Pilates and super healthy eating, all maximising my physical and mental strength and stamina.

I felt as strong and good as I could have done on the day of the operation itself and was ready for what laid ahead – 4-5 hours in surgery.

One very refreshing and positive moment I vividly remember was the two young female surgeons who came to take me through the risks, possible complications & consent form. Being an advocate of female talent in any profession or industry, I loved that two of my team of three surgeons were ladies. They were not only super friendly, positive and upbeat on a Wednesday 7am shift, they also looked incredible. Their behaviour and appearance really made a difference to my slightly sombre mood.

What helped to get me through?

Now 5 months post op, I am delighted to say my operation and post-op recovery could not have gone any better. The consultant surgeon and his team asked if I could be known as their ‘case of the year’ and said it was text book. They have not seen many cases where the recovery has gone this seamlessly.

Women In Channel Awards 2020

I believe many factors contributed positively to my case, firstly the excellent treatment, care and non-disputable support I received from all the medical staff, my family, friends and my team at work. From flowers to post-op visits, they genuinely cared and still do.

I have felt throughout the whole process that I am very much taken seriously, my treatment was managed with urgency and care. The love and support from my husband, family and friends goes beyond all of that and I learnt there is no shame to ask for help, emotional support or whatever you need to look after yourself.

Secondly, my mental and physical strength and overall very positive outlook on life played a key role. At no point did I let my worries or fear overpower my long-term outlook on the very happy life I have and will continue to have. I am excited by what the future holds, both personally and in my career, with an added perspective which I wouldn’t have without this experience.

I have learnt and grown tremendouslythroughout this time. My inquisitive nature and preventative mindset led me to go for the check-up with zero symptoms, otherwise I would have had to wait until I am 65 years old for standard screening. There is no way I would have made it that long without far more advanced stages of the illness.

At times it has been very hard. The not knowing, waiting for results and treatments has been the hardest. Thanks to my naturally positive mindset and self-motivation, I managed to apply several practical things in my day to day life to keep my focus on the positive side of my story. Let’s just say my home office space had more colourful post-it notes than you can imagine.

Computacenter’s Growing Together Programme, promoting and encouraging women in the workplace

Women In Tech Careers

I thank the Growing Together programme for very real and helpful conversations which greatly emphasised my natural behaviour and way of thinking during such testing times.

I am smiling as I tell you this – I genuinely believe many techniques that the programme covers have such a positive impact on anyone, whether the growth mindset or self-fulfilling prophecy, even working on my personal brand just before my story began, resonated with me many times since.

What lessons have I learnt?

Life can be short, so go for what you want to achieve, don’t be scared to take risks and make tough decisions. Be open to accept support or guidance and be kind and understanding about everyone’s personal story.

Whatreally matters when you are at your most vulnerable in a hospital bed, unable to move? What behaviours in a person make all the difference in how you feel and respond to them?

I did reflect on our Computacenter values and behaviours during this time; we strive to be perfect for our customers and I was very much was able to draw a parallel to my situation in recovery.

A thank you to the NHS staff who looked after me  

I was overwhelmed by the reassurance and trust I felt from the credibilityand total confidence all the staff demonstrated. They are experts in their profession, very credible and with huge amount of experience, passion and genuine care.

It made me feel safe, valued and in the best hands possible.

Also, how straight talking and honest they engaged with me. From the first conversation with one of the consultants, to the frequent checks from the nurses on the ward. They told me the truth, honestly yet kindly. They articulated the medical jargon in a way where I could understand every word and took their time to facilitate a two-way conversation.

Finally, the kindness everyone showed towards me was humbling. I have never felt more vulnerable, yet safe, respected and truly taken care off. Their passion for looking after patients and making them better was outstanding and so underrated. Gruelling shifts, modest salaries and less than state of the art facilities don’t dampen the hard work and quality of care I experienced.

It seems very appropriate to share my very positive and lucky story with the NHS right now and to shine a good light on the amazing work they do despite limited resources. In fact, I have written to the CEO and Board of Directors of the NHS trust where I was treated to pay my thanks but equally ask for recognition to all those individuals who looked after me so well.

The journey continues…

As much as I have a further follow-up check-ups, I am super happy, relieved and a little bit proud of the journey I have been on so far. Over and above all I feel extremely lucky. I have learnt a lot about this illness and how for example additional genetic factors can bring your screening age down: please go and get checked if you have any family history. Your GP will listen and offer referrals if needed.

Why did I want to share my story with you? Well, I want to be a positive example to those of you who may also be affected by this or any illness (which so often goes unnoticed for a long time), to not feel alone.

Support is available and on a personal note I am very happy to offer my support to anyone. Being brave is hard sometimes and it is ok to ask for help. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and dealing with it on your own is even harder.

Be curious and develop a preventative mindset, the earlier it can be caught the more straightforward and successful the treatment and care.

Furthermore, my perspective on life, work and wellbeing has changed somewhat. I have been lucky to have had a balanced lifestyle for years, but more than ever before I realise stress is not good for us – our mind or body – so I urge you all to limit stress and learn to manage it.

Be happy, smile and laugh every day and enjoy the things you do, see the positive in any challenge. It’s good for us. Look after your body, be active and conscious of what you eat and drink. You don’t have to be a saint but be mindful. It won’t just make you feel better, but also help your body fight whatever it needs to one day.

I also want to show it’s ok to talk about these very common illnesses like cancer, they affect 1 of 2 of us in our lifetime. Awareness and education are vital in the successful treatment of cancers.

I am super happy and lucky to be smiling right now, but I would have also told you my story if the outcome would have been less positive. If any of you have questions for me or have similar things going on in your life, please don’t be shy and contact me if I can help in any way.

I recently read a quote by ‘Anais Nin’ which really resonated with me during testing times:

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”

I will leave you with that and wish you all the health and happiness during these challenging times.

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