What does the Microsoft Azure Accreditation and Get Licensing Ready provide you?
The accreditation programmes provided in-depth knowledge of Microsoft offerings, what type of needs the customer may have and supported my own internal progression from Digital Sales Specialist to an Internal Software Specialist.
How much time does someone need to dedicate to it?
This programme supports self-paced learning, which allowed me to study and prepare across 3 months. This really helped with work-life balance as I was also given allocated time by my manager. This also meant I completed it much faster than I would have been able to otherwise.
Can you please talk about the process and any hurdles?
In March, I took the Fundamentals Boot Camp and the Accreditation exam. However, in October, I had gone into a one-day Fundamentals boot camp, unaware of the preparation I should have done prior to the day. I tried to make the best of it and took the exam at the end of the day anyway, missing the pass mark by 3%. This did, however, give me the confidence to buckle down and spend more time studying. Using the practice tests helped the next time I participated in a boot camp as it all clicked and I was able to interact a lot more.
What support were you given to prepare for the exam?
There is a lot of support via Microsoft. Resources for "Get Licensing Ready" include a video with accompanying learning sheet and mini-tests. Azure resources are split into sections with mini-tests and a test user practice account. Within Insight, I had a lot of support from my managers and Insight licensing specialist as I began accepting licensing queries within my role as a digital sales specialist. I would receive their feedback and guidance on my proposals while also utilising my Azure resources.
Do you think that studying as you did was a lot better than learning on the job?
I think learning on the job, such as utilising our “Day in Their Shoes” programme would be beneficial, but as a supplement. I don't think it's something that you could just learn on the job. It was just a case of sitting down and digesting how everything links together and utilising the test user account to go through the process yourself. However, the role I’ve taken is a classic development role, so I can understand licensing across the board. I wanted to take this role so I could progress further and there will be quite a bit of learning on the job but purely because I now have the foundation and platform to be able to do so.
What do you account for your career progression and what advice do you have for others?
I sat down with my manager and he asked questions like "Where do you want to be? What do you want to do?" I thought it was to be an account manager. He challenged me to dig deeper and think about what my "plan b" could be, what was available and what I needed to do to get there.
From there, I emailed and met with the Sales Solution Specialist Team Manager asking for a quick chat. After telling him what I wanted to do, where I wanted to end up and what I was currently doing. I asked him what I needed to do to connect the dots. Luckily, I had approached him at the perfect timing because that’s when he told me he had a development licensing position opening soon. You never know where your conversation could lead. Don't be afraid to talk to people.
That's my advice to others, get an idea of what you want to do, not just the easiest route because you think the financial reward is there. Get a deeper understanding of what we offer at Insight. Then speak to your current manager and HR business partner, to get your development plan in place! Ask for some of their time for mentoring and who you should schedule some time to speak to and get a better understanding of the possibilities.
Imagine you have become a manager in 5 years. What are some things you would tell your future self?
I would want to emulate the managers who supported me, gave me opportunities, their time to listen and guide me to where I needed to go. I’d say, don't be harsh if someone isn’t ready to advance but tell them why and build them up by knowing that if they practice more or do “x, y and z” there is a path for them to get there.
Why would you recommend the Digital Sales Specialist role to others?
The best thing about Insight is that there are many different avenues you can take. The DSS role really is a foundation to get your foot in the door to spend 12-18 months to learn all that Insight offers the market and see that the world is your oyster in your career opportunities within it.
It's a starting block to learn the ropes and from there, you can go wherever you want. If you are sales-driven, you can transition into a sales account manager. If you like the technical side, you have the licensing side as an S3. If you're more marketing-driven you have the digital marketing side in relation to LinkedIn with the focus with the vendors. You can keep your eye open to those things you find a passion for and in the meantime, you get some fun incentives Points for Prizes!