First off, thanks to James and Callum for the useful tips on applying for the Associate Programme. The other Service and Sales Associates have just come to the end of assisting with the assessment centres which definitely brings back memories from when we were in their place just this time last year. I have to say, it’s much nicer being on this side of the table and passing on our words of wisdom to the hopefuls for next year instead of being put under the spotlight ourselves. That apart though, it really puts into perspective just how far we have all come since starting the programme ten months ago and it’s both scary and exciting to think we only have eight months left!
With this in mind and with the new associates nearly in place to start their role in January, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a look at what I’ve found particularly valuable on the programme so far. I certainly feel that the programme has continued to improve the longer I’ve been on it. By this point in the scheme I’ve gained a grasp of the services and solutions Computacenter provide, I’ve managed to finally decode a large number of the acronyms I hear used in work every day and I have a much better idea of who the best person to turn to for each individual challenge I come across is.
One of the rotations which, I think really shows how much we’ve all learnt since starting the programme in January is ‘Helping Clients Succeed’. For those of you who are not aware, during this module the Associates are split into groups of three or four and are given the challenge of responding to a brief from a telecommunications company. We have to go through all the usual, well known processes when first qualifying and going ahead with an opportunity. The module concludes with each group presenting back to the key stakeholders within the dummy telecommunications business. Each group is just getting to the end of their initial conversations with the key stakeholders from within the company: Martin Roberts, Barry Binding, Andy Bryant, Derek Wilks and Darren Chapman or, as you may better know them, Pete Larson, Stewart Filler, Ade West, Gavin Bell and Rob Stanley. It’s surprising how capable and relaxed I think we’ve all felt in leading these conversations with the key stakeholders. It’s been really interesting to find out the ways in which you can best lead these initial conversations with prospective new customers. Hopefully, as we progress through the module we’ll continue to feel as at ease, especially when undertaking our final presentation.
For me, another highlight of the programme so far has got to be working on the Waitrose Account. I’ve been on the account for the past two months supporting and assisting the Service Management team. The John Lewis Partnership has been a long standing customer for Computacenter and it has been really useful to experience the Service Management role on this account.
Working with Waitrose has given me real exposure to what the Service Management role is really like. It has shown me that Stuart Maynard, when he introduced the role of Service Management to us all in January, wasn’t exaggerating when he said the role was fundamentally ‘spinning a lot of plates’. Juggling is certainly a skill I think I’ll be able to add to the CV by the time I finish the programme! Working alongside Waitrose, our internal teams and third parties has challenged me but it has also been a thoroughly positive and enjoyable experience. They say the best way to learn is to really get stuck in and get your hands dirty and this has definitely been my experience so far on the account. It’s been very rewarding to watch ideas progress and see relationships build with the customer. The experience so far has definitely made me very pleased I decided to go into Service Management and I’m looking forward to working with both Waitrose and the Service Management and Account Team during the peak period which will soon be upon us all.
My final highlight of the year is a bit more general. A lot of the programme revolves around us building relationships with key people within the business and ensuring that we get to know each part of Computacenter well. One of my highlights so far has been doing just this, and I don’t just mean drinks at the Oyster Shed after work! As we’ve all been progressing through the programme, I’ve found that so many people put time aside to assist with your development and that’s one of my favourite things about Computacenter as a whole: if you want to achieve, Computacenter will do its best to give you the tools to do this. Having had a small taste of seeing what being a Service Manager is like, I know how busy people are and so I’m extremely grateful to all the people who so far have given up some of their spare time to help with my development.
Admittedly, some of this has taken place in a more fun environment such as the Services University, but we’ve also all spent a lot of time with people from across the business during the working day, whether that’s whilst we are on set rotations or because they’re willing to give up time to give us the benefit of their experience in a particular area which may not be covered by the programme. So many people at Computacenter have worked here for so long and it is always useful to pick up hints and tips from those who have much more experience.
It’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to what the next eight months will bring. There’s still much more to learn and many more people to meet. Thanks for giving up the time to listen to my ramblings, next month we will be hearing from Harry Walkden.
This time last year I was sat reading Glen’s blog giving advice on how to apply, along with some helpful tips around the Associate Programmes. This must mean that it’s the time of year again where we starting looking to bring new talent into Computacenter via the Sales and Service Associate Programmes. Normally in this blog you would hear from either a Service Manager or a Sales Associate, however this month you will hear from both Callum and myself, in a combined article to give you an insight into the later stages of the recruitment process and some helpful tips.
I’m going to touch on the face to face interviews and the first evening of the assessment centre before Callum goes on to talk about the second day. Together we will cover the tasks that you need to complete, some essential advice and what we learnt when we went through the same process 12 months ago.
The face to face interviews are going to be with a member of Senior Management and also a current Associate. This is a competency based interview, and therefore it is important that your answers are detailed and that you can accurately demonstrate what you have done. Although face to face interviews are a daunting prospect, it’s important just to be yourself because everyone else is taken.
Remember; they want to see your personality, hear what you have done which has led you to this point and why you think you would be an asset to Computacenter. At the end of the face-to-face interview the senior manager will leave the interview and you will get the opportunity to talk to the current associate around the programme and any other questions you may have. This is a great opportunity to gain some further insight into what you might be doing a year from now.
Once you have completed stages 4 and 5, it is time to pack your overnight bag and travel to Hatfield for the two day assessment centre. It’s a great experience, and a real positive about our application process is that Computacenter allow time to really get to know you before making such an important decision around your future.
On arrival you will meet some of the other applicants, a great time to meet some of your potential future colleagues as well as some of the current associates before a briefing session that will give you a better insight into the next 36 hours. There will be a dinner with the senior management who will be involved in the 2 day interview process, which allows you to get to know your assessors before you’re in an interview scenario. This shows how invested the senior executive team at Computacenter is in the Associate programme, something the successful applicants will come to realise quickly once you start!
More importantly this is a great opportunity to sit down over dinner and ask some questions of the leadership team, so think carefully about what questions you ask and the answers you give as you are being assessed from the outset. One final piece of advice; enjoy the networking afterwards, but know your limit!
I will now hand over to Callum…
So, thanks to James’ tips, you’ve had a great evening with the other candidates and have started to impress the assessment panel. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and get some breakfast in the morning, because trust me you’re going to need that energy today at our Hatfield head office.
This is your chance to really shine – with multiple opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities in different areas vital to Sales / Service Management, and prove that you’re right for the role!
You’ll be given a group task, where you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to be part of and maybe even lead a team, and then present back to the assessors as a group. You will also be set a topic for, and, having been told your stance, be given the opportunity to debate it against your fellow applicants – remember here that subject knowledge isn’t the most important thing – the assessors will be looking more for skills such as calmness under pressure, logical thinking and ability to listen to others and communicate effectively.
Next it’s time to outshine the other candidates with the individual assessments. First you’ll have to put pen to paper again for another written and numeracy test – you’ve all had similar tests earlier in the process though, so don’t panic!
As if having dinner with him last night wasn’t enough, you will have 10 minutes one-to-one with our CEO Mike Norris. In this time, you have the opportunity to ask Mike just three questions, so make them count! Mike takes time out of his busy diary to meet each of you, so try and make your questions interesting, meaningful, and memorable.
Your panel interview will be with 2 or 3 members of the leadership team, where they will try to find out a bit more about you, why you want the role, and why you think you’re suitable for the role. The advice I’ll give here is to be honest and open, and try to pull on experiences from your academic, social and extracurricular life wherever possible. We aren’t just trying to recruit people that are perfect for the Associate programme, but want people that will suit Computacenter too.
The last chance you’ll get to impress the assessors is the famous “Why Me?” presentation. They’ll give you 5 minutes to use as you wish – make sure you leave a lasting impression and that they come away convinced that you are right for the Associate programme.
Come to the assessment centre prepared and ready to engage, but most of all try to enjoy it. At lunch, and throughout the day, current Associates will be on-hand, so don’t be afraid to chat to them and get some further advice.
Once the assessment centre’s finished, those that are successful will get a call from Mike Norris with the presumptive close of “see you in January”!
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions around applying for the Programme or the Programme in general, then please don’t hesitate to drop either of us an email.
Most importantly, enjoy it and good luck!
Service Management Associate
First off, thank you kindly to Priya for passing the baton (Olympics reference done) and teeing me up for this month’s Associate update. With the last 6 months capped off with our Half 1 presentations and a third of the programme complete, Priya and the vast majority of past associate bloggers were definitely right in saying that time is flying.
I thought I’d give a quick insight into the mind of a CC graduate one year out of university, mainly for those of you applying and to quell a popular a rumour about what happens after leaving university. As I waved goodbye to my final exams and started what my friends and previous graduates had called my last “proper” summer holiday, I started to prepare for years of looking back and ruing the fact that I’d finally have to work over the months of July and August. I can say with all honesty that this hasn’t been the case here at CC, and silly as it might sound, working hard, being challenged and engaging with all the different areas of the business has been infinitely better than lounging around a house for 3 months. Whilst every grad will look back to university fondly, the Associate Programme has been amazing to date and the “summer blues” that people talk about are nowhere to be seen.
This last month has been the first of our solutions rotations where we spend a month learning about a specific technology area, how this benefits our clients, and how we deliver these solutions to our customers. I was with the Workplace and Collaboration team this month, an area that has a direct and visible effect on the end user and in which Computacenter are market leaders. The key takeaway here was that the workplace is transitioning more and more towards becoming “digital”, with users demanding a more consumer like and flexible experience from work. As is often said, “Work is a thing you do, not a place you go” and seeing some of the collaboration technologies that are making that phrase a reality has been fantastic. Our customer experience centre does a great job of showcasing the vast amount of options for collaboration there are in the workplace now. With each business requiring different solutions to meet their workplace needs, our vendor agnosticism means that we can offer exactly what is required on a case by case basis and this rotation has really brought to life the value Computacenter add in being able to do this.
Looking beyond the technology, seeing the sheer scale of the transformation projects that Computacenter undertakes has been eye opening. Managing the deployment of tens of thousands of different devices, to different user groups, to different locations all across the UK and Europe not only showcases our logistical capability, but also shows that we’re able to tailor solutions like no other organisation.
We have many rotations ahead and the programme is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint (although somewhat of a marathon done at sprint speeds, maybe a 10K? Olympics references aren’t my forte) and we’re learning more and more with each passing day. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Workplace and Collaboration team again for getting us involved and giving us an insight into the changes that are happening within the digital workplace.
So to sum up and once again echo previous bloggers, time truly does fly here at CC. It won’t be long before we start to welcome the next round of Associates, who are already well under way with the application stages.
Next month we’ll hear from James and Callum who’ll talk about the latter stages of applying to the programme, so keep your eyes peeled for some insights and maybe even some tips on making it through!
Thanks for reading and for those bidding to become next year’s Associates, good luck!
First of all I would like to thank Hollie for the previous blog. The Services University was a great day and I’m sure everyone else enjoyed it just as much as I did.
I can hardly believe that I have already been at Computacenter for almost 5 months. Everyone said the time would fly by and believe me it has. It seems like only yesterday that we arrived, in our new suits, on January the 11th. When I said to my friends that I was becoming a Service Management Associate, I got a sea of blank faces. Even now I’m not sure they really know what I do! I think this is down to the fact that you can never really know what day you are going to have when you turn up at the office. This is what I really like about this job. The variety.
So before I carry on to tell you about my time so far at Computacenter, I will tell you a little bit about myself. Prior to starting at Computacenter, I lived in both Germany and the Netherlands before completing my degree in London. I recently returned from a 5 month backpacking trip through Asia and Australasia. So stepping into the Associate Programme was certainly stepping into the unknown!
But one of the really great things about working for Computacenter is you don’t necessarily have to have an IT background. All of us Service Management Associates have varying degrees and backgrounds from History to Geography. But this doesn’t hinder, rather enhance discussions and conversations. It is also nice to know that you are not the only one who is learning about the difference between Linux and Unix or Mainframes and Iseries.
All of us Service Management Associates are now on our second Home Account Rotation. We have all been placed on varying accounts. Myself on TFL and others on accounts such as NHS Worcester, UBS and VISA. Although these are all very varied accounts, I think all of us would agree that it is nice to be getting our hands dirty and learning more about what it will be like to become a Service Manager at the end of the Associate Programme.
I have really enjoyed the time that I have spent so far on TfL. I am able to get involved in the day to day events that take place on the account. From the daily service reviews to implementing new reporting methods. It is great to feel part of the team and put some of the theory that I have learnt into practice. Even though I am on the same account for a couple of weeks I am still learning from different areas, from the scheduling function, to the engineering function and also from different service providers on the account.
How could I complain whilst working in a location with this for a view?!
Whilst talking to other graduates on similar service management programmes this afternoon, I realised what an opportunity we have with Computacenter. We are lucky enough to be able to rotate around not only different accounts but also different areas of the business, meaning 18 months down the line when we become Service Managers, we really do understand the internal processes. We are able to learn from all of the people that we meet and build those all-important relationships for the future.
We have one week left on our home account rotations, before moving on to our Commercial and Governance Rotation. I am looking forward to learning about a new area of Computacenter and how this will help me in the future. Furthermore it will give all of us Service Management Associates a chance to work together again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, next month we will hear from Alex Griffin.
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!