“Stand out from the Crowd”
Well, it’s that time of the year again… It’s time to start thinking about bringing future talent on board at Computacenter, via the Sales and Service Associate Programmes. This blog is going to cover what steps you have to take to get onto both Associate Programmes and it will also provide some hints and tips along the way, which I hope will prove to be beneficial for those looking to join the Programme either internally or externally.
It’s been a year since I started the application for the role as a Sales Associate and as the other Associates have alluded to, time has absolutely flown by. Applying for the role at Computacenter was a long yet enjoyable journey from the first part of the application to the final call offering you a role as an Associate
First of all, if you’re interested in joining the Programme, apply online and send off your CV. Once this has been checked, the next step is to complete a verbal and numeric reasoning test. After this you will need to get in front of the camera. A one minute pitch will be required to explain why you believe you are the right candidate for the role. A tip for this is to be natural, clear and concise. Think about what the role entails and match this to what you have done in the past to impress the assessors.
Once you’ve done well in front of the camera, it’s time to interact with some of Computacenter’s employees. There will be a face to face interview with a member of Senior Management and also a current Associate. This will be a competency based interview, so it’s important that your answers are detailed and clearly demonstrate what you have done. Think about using the STAR technique to structure your answers.
- Situation – an overview of the context of an example
- Task – What you had to do
- Action – What action did you take which demonstrated a competency, behaviour or skills
- Result – What was the result
You will have the chance to quiz one of the current Associates about what they have been up to during their time in the role. The interviews are normally based in one of the regional offices and last around an hour.
So you’ve had your time in front of the camera and you’ve really impressed a member of Senior Management and an Associate, pack your overnight bag as you’re off to two day Assessment Centre in Hatfield. You won’t find a better assessment experience at many other companies. On the first night you have the chance to sit down and have dinner with members of our Leadership team. I know that it sounds obvious but interact with everyone there and think carefully about what questions you ask and answers you give – you are being assessed from the outset.
Wake up, have your breakfast and head over to the head office in Hatfield for the second day of assessments. This is the opportunity to really have your time to shine. Throughout the day you have the opportunity to work in a group and provide a sales pitch, there is a panel interview, the opportunity to interview a member of the Leadership team and finally you will have five minutes at the end to leave a lasting impression with a “why me” presentation. Come prepared, be engaged and try to enjoy the assessment centre as much as possible. Be warned however, it does take it out of you. After my assessment last year I woke up at 3am on the sofa still in my suit.
Once the assessment centre has been completed, those that are successful will get a phone call from a member of the Leadership team offering you the job. You can then sit back and relax until the Associate Programmes start in January.
If you’re looking to apply this year, I hope that this has helped and for those of you who may be interested in how the assessment process works, I hope that this has provided a good insight. Even if you have friends or family, which you may think would like to apply, please see the link below to the application page.
Next month we will hear from Jon Newsham, who will discuss what life is like as a Service Management Associate.
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 me an email.
Why simple IT matters?
As the last ‘blogger’ in the series of 2014 Associates, it seems apt to reflect back on how my concept of IT has shifted since joining Computacenter from a sociological nicety to Darwinist necessity. More specifically; my new (and improved) perception of how IT enables everything!
Of course as a ‘Generation Y’ stereotype, I had a keen sense of how technology and computers were shaping not only how we work, but live our everyday lives (e.g. playing computer games!). However, the pervasive layers of how the IT industry have driven advances in healthcare, education and especially enterprise were largely lost on me. The bounding advancements have occurred in swan-like fashion; seemingly moving effortlessly forward, whilst in reality paddling furiously beneath the surface. But when you step back and try and find perspective in what has occurred over the last couple of decades, I find that the beginning is always a good place to start.
When was the last time anybody actually thought about where the term IT came from? The two words of ‘Information’ & ‘Technology’ do not naturally interlink. The first use of this term was found in an article by Leavitt & Whisler contained in a Harvard Business Journal in 1958. “The branch of technology concerned with the dissemination, processing, and storage of information, esp. by means of computers”. The advances of technology from 1958 to modern-day are beyond comprehension, however, the basic concept of the use of technology to process, store and utilise information is even more relevant now than ever before! We’ve just become better at doing it.
Going back to some of the messaging from Computacenter’s UK Kick Off Conference earlier this year, we have to think of the bigger picture. Core and Edge technologies are simply vehicles which provide information (or data) to the user. This data needs to be stored efficiently, processed quickly, transmitted securely and accessed easily. So why is IT so complex? The true genius behind ground-breaking technological advances are the ones in which the underlying IT complexity is hidden and often missed completely by the users.
For example, let me take you back to Andy Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon Championship triumph, which marked the end of decades of British disappointment. The wiser (or more emotionally-fragile) of us may have been avoiding the Marry/Djokovic final, due to true British pessimism. However, as the excitement of centre-court mounted, spectators in the stands were utilising mobile technology to vent their elation and share the events via social media (#omgmurraywinning). Analytical software monitoring the ‘twitter-sphere’ instantaneously provisioned more compute and storage resources to the BBC.com web servers, dynamically bursting into 3rd party cloud environments. To the typical user; all that preceded was the ability to check the tennis score on the BBC website, however, the underlying SMAC processes that ensured that all information was readily available and easily accessible was far beyond this.
So why does this matter? To maintain focus on how our customers are going to continue to gain value; it seems to me that simplicity will be the best motivator. Whether this manifests as faster ‘tin’, less management or more consumption-based expenditure, customers are looking to us for solutions to drive out complexity. As an associate, I am more than aware of the vast (and seemingly unconquerable) technical depths of the products I am meant to be selling, however, the best advice that I have been given during my 14 months with Computacenter (and it has been evident in several different guises), is that the simple story is often what’s most compelling.
Thanks for reading. We are now passing on the batton to this years intake of Associates.
Line of Business Associate
Love Thy Vendor and Don’t Forget to Network
In the last instalment, Nick Bouwer mentioned Computacenter’s UK Kick Off and discussed how it would not be possible without the support of our partners. Following on from that message, I would like to take you on a whistle stop tour around Vendor Alliances and discuss the value that the teams bring to Computacenter.
A couple of other Associates and I started a rotation into our Vendor Alliances team a few weeks ago. We were given a comprehensive introduction to the work of the Licensing team and the value that they add. This essentially comes down to doing what Computacenter does best: taking a proven process and industrialising it – in this case Software Renewals.
Following on from the Licensing team, I spent time with some of the other Alliances teams including those aligned to HP, EMC and IBM. It was a fantastic experience and a great networking opportunity for me. I met not only our Internal Vendor Alliances teams, but also our vendors’ aligned account teams. This enabled me to start building those vital relationships, ready for when I leave the programme in a few months time.
“As associates we rotate around the company, learning vital business skills, how different business units fit together and picking up lots of IT knowledge”
As Nick mentioned in his last post, the new associates have arrived, settled in well and survived their first Kick Off. As associates we rotate around the company, learning vital business skills, how different business units fit together and picking up lots of IT knowledge. The aim is that after 18 months we are ready to fly the nest and go out to become the next generation of Account Managers, Sales Specialists or Service Managers. The programme does a great job of turning graduates with potential into future talent and we couldn’t be successful without the support of the entire business, so from all of the associates new and old – Thank you.
The associates from my intake are now in the final 4 months of the programme. We have a few rotations to finish off before we enter the final sign off process. Our attention is being drawn towards reflecting on the last 14 months, looking at how far we have all come since January 2014, but also how far we still have to go to be the best that we can be. I have certainly learnt a lot about business and IT whilst on the programme, but I have also learnt a lot about myself. Finding my presentation style, how I handle conflicts, how to network effectively and how to get the best out of a team during group activities. All of these are vital skills to for me as an individual, as a sales professional and as an employee of Computacenter.
The message that really stuck throughout the programme is; People buy from people. Networking and building relationships are therefore absolutely critical for success in this industry.
Thank you very much for reading. Please tune in two weeks time for the penultimate blog from AP14, written by Dom Marcar.
The ship has a new bearing, and the engines are full steam ahead
In the last instalment Dan Nation mentioned the IT service Management Forum UK conference and discussed the service management community both in the wider market and within Computacenter.
Following Dan’s instalment around the services side of Computacenter, I would like to discuss the sales community within Computacenter and the fantastic event we hold for our sales staff. This is of course our UK Sales Kickoff.
Last Friday, all the UK sales force headed to the Celtic Manor resort in Wales. This began two intense days covering topics such as our 2015 approach (which I must add has a lot of maturity to it, and a completely different feel to last year’s) as well as training sessions on the current state of the IT market, and a review of the year gone by. Further to this, we have the opportunity to interact with our vendor and distribution partners to understand their 2015 go-to-markets with Computacenter, but also to strengthen and build new relationships. Our kick off would not be possible without the support of our partners, so I would like to thank our partners and everyone involved in making the Kickoff a reality. What a weekend it was!
“Our kick off would not be possible without the support of our partners, so I would like to thank our partners and everyone involved in making the Kickoff a reality. What a weekend it was!”
A quick mention is necessary to welcome the new round of associates to the company, who I trust you will be hearing from in upcoming blogs. This was their first UK Kickoff, and thinking back to last year I cannot stress how much this put the size and grandeur of Computacenter into perspective. As an associate you hear great things about your company from the people within it, but to hear how strategic we are to our partners at an event like this really lends credence to fact that we really are a market leader in every sense.
“Businesses aren’t driven by IT, they are driven by the IT users”
Writing this blog from our UK head office this Tuesday following such a fantastic weekend gives a chance to reflect back on the key takeaways from this event. IT is changing and companies challenges can be seen as sitting in two areas; the business enabling flashy end, and the more conventional IT that supports this (also called 2 speed IT). At Computacenter we are well positioned to assist customers manage the complexity this brings, and the kickoff really brought this to light. Fundamental changes in IT can be confusing (something an associate fully understands, trust me) but a clear focus helps make that easier; something that our company really has – the end user. Businesses aren’t driven by IT, they are driven by the IT users.
The message that really stuck is that the ship has a new bearing, and the engines are full steam ahead.
Thank you very much for reading. Please tune in two weeks time for the penultimate blog from AP14, written by Rianne O’Grady.
With the industry asking, ‘Who will be the Service Management of the Future?’ Computacenter responds by leading the way in attracting and developing new Service Managers.
Hi, my name is Dan Nation, Service Management Associate. My first 12 months in the business have flown by and I would like to begin this blog by thanking those across the business who have given their time, expertise and support to the programme, enabling the development of the Associates.
“As well as focusing on what Service Management will need to do, we also need to address who will be the Service Management of the future”
In November 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend the IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF) UK Conference, which was well attended by the Service Management community from across the industry.
The ITSMF proposed its ‘Big4 agenda’ for 2015, which provides the focus for their investment and development within the Service Management community. The second topic on the agenda was ‘Service Management of the future: What do we need to look like?’
As well as focusing on what Service Management will need to do, we also need to address who will be the Service Management of the future. With the population and retirement age increasing, there is ever more pressure on current workforces no matter what industry you work in.
In January 2014, Computacenter started an industry leading Service Management Associate Programme, expanding on its already successful Sales and Line of Business Programmes. Applicants go through a rigorous selection process, and successful participants start an 18-month programme designed to give maximum exposure to the Computacenter business, whilst developing the skills and experiences necessary to manage the contractual services we provide to customers.
Never a company to rest on success, Computacenter has three further programmes designed to attract and train future talent: an Industrial Placement Programme (university placement year), an Apprenticeship Scheme, which Computacenter recently won an ‘Employer of the Year’ award, and Work Experience placements for Secondary School students.
This month, five new Service Management Associates have embarked on their careers with Computacenter. Once again, I would like to thank all those involved with the programme throughout the business and ask for your continued support for the new crop of Associates.
What the industry is saying
In an article written for the ITSMF journal ‘serviceTALK’, Sandra Whittleston writes, ‘very often when attending IT Service Management (ITSM) events and meetings, discussions focus on the newcomers to our industry. Popular questions include, “where is the new blood and where it is likely to come from?” and “how can we encourage new people into our industry?”’1
If you would like to be part of our culture and become one of Computacenter’s future talent, please watch out for our 2016 applications which will open later this year. To find out more about the Associate Programmes, please visit our page here.
Feel free to share and comment and stay tuned for next month’s Associate blog from Nicholas Bouwer.
Service Management Associate
#Computacenter #CCAssociates #NewTalent #ITSMF #ServiceManagementOfTheFuture
1 Sandra Whittleston, ‘The Millennial Shift – bringing new blood into ITSM’, ITSMF UK, serviceTALK, Autumn 2014, P.21. http://www.itsmf.co.uk/
Last month, Andy talked a bit about our Helping Clients Succeed project. While I hate to go over old ground, this has been a rather central task for all of us Associates over the past couple of months (along with the small matter of an upcoming presentation to Mike Norris-Group CEO). This month we also had the privilege of interviewing candidates for next year’s intake of Associates ahead of the various assessment days that followed.
Firstly, I’ll pick up the Helping Clients Succeed baton to go through the last two days of the course which consisted of negotiation training. This was the final chapter before we present our solutions in early December.
“Negotiation training was one of the most interesting, useful and indeed pertinent training courses that we have undertaken so far.”
Negotiation training was one of the most interesting, useful and indeed pertinent training courses that we have undertaken so far. After going through the theory of handling negotiations, we were then let loose upon each other in various group scenarios with the aim of creating a win-win for both parties.
The practice of collaborating between teams, leaving the ego at the door and achieving a compromise so that both parties can walk away satisfied is a concept that took a little while to sink in. However, by our final negotiation of the day, an amicable win-win was definitely (finally) reached.
During November, the assessment centres for next year’s group of Sales, Service Management and Line of Business Associates began. I think I can speak for all of the associates in saying it’s been an honour to be involved in this process by way of the pre assessment centre interviews. At this early stage, current associates are paired with senior members of the Computacenter management team in order to gauge candidates before they are put forward for the assessment centre.
“I think I can speak for all of the associates in saying it’s been an honour to be involved in this process by way of the pre assessment centre interviews.”
For this process I was aligned to fellow blogger Colin Williams (Networking Line of Business Practice Leader) to undertake the interviews. This was an interesting full circle for me as it was Colin and former associate Matt Lovell who interviewed me a year ago!
The assessment centres present a dichotomy to candidates that can be difficult to manage. How can you excel individually while working as part of a team? I felt that the answer to this was exemplified during our negotiation training. Computacenter is a £3 billion turnover company in an IT market worth in excess of $3 trillion globally. In order to achieve and stand out in such a vast landscape, a focus must be maintained on achieving team wins. Whether this is a team of candidates in an assessment centre, a line of business or sector sales team, or the wider Computacenter team, if you are able to push towards your individual wins whilst helping those around you succeed and win, your success and impact will always be better for it. As we move into late Q4, and for us Associates past the half way point of our programme, this win-win mentality is needed now more than ever.
My name’s Andy Gibson and I am a Sales Associate aligned to the Financial Services and Retail Sector based out of Manchester. Last month Emma talked about her experience within the Networking Line of Business. In this post, I am going to discuss a few areas; the sales training we are currently going through which is based on a fiction case study of Tangerine Telecom, my Datacenter rotation and finally Neil Muller’s Manchester Branch Open Forum.
Tangerine Telecom is a key part of the Associate Programme that has run for many years. In the sales training we have been learning about the different processes of a sales cycle and how to approach customers; it’s fair to say it’s a lot more complicated than it looks! Having been through the third day of training (with two still to go) we are currently conducting a series of qualification calls with Computacenter employees acting as fictional customers. Something they all take very seriously! This became apparent when we called one individual their real name and he replied with “who is that”?! Although a little strange, this is great practice for future customer calls.
“Although a little strange, this is great practice for future customer calls.”
The sales training is based on the book written by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig’s “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”, which focuses on moving away from the solution and onto helping clients to succeed. The aim of the training is to develop sales techniques that will ultimately help in our future roles. This will be tested by presenting to John Beard and Pierre Hall (Financial Services and Retail Sector Director, and Workplace Line of Business Director) in December.
Before our presentation to John and Pierre, we also have an individual presentation to Mike Norris (Group CEO), where he will play CIO of Tangerine Telecoms. I think this is one of the most important parts of the programme, as getting individual time with the Group CEO would be unheard of at any other company of our size… Wish us luck!
“Although it’s arguably the most complex line of business, the team did a great job in helping us to understand it at a high level.”
We are also still going through our usual rotations. Following the networking rotation Emma discussed last month, we have moved into the Datacenter Line of Business. Although it’s arguably the most complex line of business, the team did a great job in helping us to understand it at a high level. Whilst on the rotation we worked on a project based on IT Operational Analytics (ITOA); something that I hadn’t heard of prior to the rotation. At a high level ITOA helps business to make IT decisions based off machine data. If like me you haven’t heard of this, I encourage you to Google it. This rotation was concluded with a test, individual presentation and group presentation; intense to say the least!
I write this blog following Neil Muller’s (UK MD) Manchester Branch Open Forum. With no set agenda, the audience asked questions that Neil seamlessly addressed. He went on to give an update around the UK business and covered numerous other topics including the Manchester branch…we look forward to the future improvements! This was an extremely insightful session in a relaxed environment and I would recommend it to you all.
Thank you very much for reading. Next month, we have a blog from Liam Meeson, our Networking Line of Business Associate.
Hello, my name is Mitchell Smith, I’m the Workplace Line of Business associate for the 2014 Associate Programmes. Last month, Sean discussed the Programme’s first major milestone – the first half yearly review presentation. Using milestones as an inspiration, I’d like to discuss my most recent achievement – my first sale.
Despite being me being on the Line of Business Sales Associate Programme, the nature of Computacenter’s business and customers means that the Programme’s focus isn’t directly selling. Instead, the programme is designed to prepare us for sales through building our understanding of the industry, building our understanding of Computacenter, and working on our personal development to ensure we’re ready before we stand in front of large customers.
“I’ve always believed that the best way to practice something is to try it.”
Despite sales not being the primary focus or expectation, I’ve always believed that the best way to practice something is to try it. Therefore, whenever I’ve been working within my Line of Business, I have tried to spend my time working to help the team with any opportunities they’re working on. This has evolved over the seven months that I’ve now been on the programme, and has gone from initially aiding with individual tasks, to helping with larger sections, and eventually culminating in working independently on opportunities (with the support of my mentor, coach and the rest of the team whenever needed of course).
In July, I was sent an email from an Account Manager asking for me to provide the response for a tender document for a new public sector customer, in a competitive situation. This was both a lot of pressure and very exciting! I finally had the opportunity to work on a deal with a brand new customer, where the Account Manager and I could build something from the ground up – something to call “my deal” rather than something I had assisted with.
I won’t go into too much detail around the actual process, other than to say that after a lot of long days and more than a few worried phone calls to my mentor for advice, the Account Manager and I received the notification that we had won the business! The seven months of learning about what we could do and how to present that effectively had paid off – I had an email from the customer awarding Computacenter the business!
“This experience really cemented in my mind how driven I am to pass the programme and move into the role.”
It was an amazing moment, easily the highlight of my career so far, and it instantly made all of the work that had gone into getting there completely worthwhile (the congratulations messages were great too…). The entire process was also incredibly valuable for my development, reinforcing how Computacenter’s scale, our experience and references, and our end-to-end services really differentiate us from the competition. This experience really cemented in my mind how driven I am to pass the programme and move into the role. Let’s hope that this sale is the first of many!
Thank you very much for reading. Next month, we have a blog from Emma Aspinall, a Sales Associate aligned to our Industry & Commercial sector.
Line of Business Associate
Hello all and thanks in advance for reading the latest associate blog. My name’s Sean Eyles and I’m a Sales Associate aligned to the Financial Services & Retail Sector. The other Associates and I have now been here for 6 months and I’m going to talk to you about a major milestone that we’ve just completed. The Sales Associate’s half-year presentations to Neil Muller (UK Managing Director).
This presentation is a rite of passage for individuals on the programme and is always delivered to one of the most senior members of the organisation. We were asked to speak for 15 minutes; covering what we’ve learnt so far, how we have developed and what we plan to do next. The difficulty is that Neil has sat through these same presentations from the last few intakes of Sales Associates; so how do you differentiate from everyone who has gone before you and everyone who will come after? What do you tell the man who’s heard everything?
We all began our task of summarising the last 6 months of our lives using varying techniques and approaches. The thing that really struck me was just how much we’ve all done since starting, and how difficult it was to prioritise what you wanted to highlight in your 15 minutes.
As we got closer to the day, concerns turned to the Q&A session that would follow each presentation. All of the Associates sought guidance from their respective sponsors, mentors, coaches, buddies and best friend’s pets to get an idea of how the questioning and general atmosphere might be. The consensus was that Neil is very observant, and that if he wants to challenge you, he will. I have to admit, and I’m sure my colleagues would agree, this information made us considerably more nervous.
So the big day arrived and we arrived in Birmingham after an evening of final rehearsals and slide re-jigging. Each of us entered the room in turn and presented to Neil Muller (UK Managing Director), Clare Parry-Jones (Business Enablement Director), Sue Harris (Head of Knowledge & Associate Programme) and Laura Lewis (Senior HR Consultant). All of the build up and nerves had boiled down to this. And something amazing happened………… IT WASN’T THAT BAD. In fact, it was actually quite good!
Everyone went through their presentations with varying degrees of confidence; however it was the Q&A session that proved a pleasant surprise. All of the questioning centred around our development, and what we need to be doing next in order to continue improving. The questions were also surrounded by sound advice and guidance. I think this will be my biggest take-away from the session; the sheer level of support and commitment that we are receiving from the business to ensure that we develop and succeed.
I’ll leave you on that note and invite you to read our next blog in August, which will be brought to you by Mitch Smith, Workplace Line of Business Associate.
Thanks very much,