professional me

Crammond Beach, Edinburgh 2016. View over to the Forth Bridges. Picture by Catriona Koris.
Crammond Beach, Edinburgh 2016. View over to the Forth Bridges. Picture by Catriona Koris.

I’d like to share a little of my professional journey so far, and the story of how I evolved from an English Language graduate with no idea what I wanted to be when I grow up, to a confident and successful Consultant and Leader – and loving it!

I can assure you there were some wrong paths along the way, a degree in English Language while interesting, doesn’t qualify you for much in the real world.

So, before I start my story the one thing I will ask you to remember and take away from this is: It is never too late to take the plunge, quit the career path you know isn’t right and start a new adventure – you just have to have the courage to take that first step.

I finally had the courage to make that change after years of going to work every day and following a career path I was successful in, but wasn’t the right path for me. I was in my early 30’s and it was the scariest, but best decision I ever made. That was the start of my journey into Technology and Management & Professional Services Consulting.

As they say the rest is history, but let me start at the beginning of my professional journey…

I graduated from The University of Edinburgh in 1999 with an MA (Awarded with Honours) in English Language. From there I worked in insurance for a year and managed a franchised holiday park in France for Haven Europe for 2 years. I moved into the recruitment industry on my return where I worked and progressed (for a lot of years). As I said – there were some wrong paths.

However, wrong paths do not mean time wasted. Each of my roles helped make me the person I am today, and gave me and developed the skills I apply to my working life everyday.

Recruitment came first, and taught me the foundational skills that I carry with me – there are a multitude of facets to being a good Recruitment Consultant that can transfer into many industries. In any role the key is to:

  • Take all opportunities to build on your existing skillset and expertise
  • Jump on any opportunity to develop new skills
  • Focus on where you want to go with those skills and
  • Be proactive – don’t sit in the shadows waiting for things to happen to you

In this life the only person who can truly make a change happen is yourself – do not underestimate what you can achieve if you put your mind to it, all you need to do is know your ability, trust and have confidence in that and GO FOR IT!

During my time in recruitment I spoke to so many people, in so many different roles, in so many industries – both as hopeful applicants and keen employers looking for the golden candidate to enhance their existing team. I learned how to consult to different types of Customers and truly understand what they need. I cultivated my creativity in building bespoke solutions based on each Customer’s particular requirements – sometimes putting my neck on the line to suggest a left field approach. I built and managed my own Customer base, managed my own P&L, business planning and forecasting.

Most importantly I learned to be confident in my ability and in my own decisions.

I was always interested in technology, innovation, and the concepts of Programme & Project Management and strove to learn more and apply as many principles of those to how I approached my work.

Finally I saw the light, and more importantly had an opportunity presented to me to enter the world of technology at a Microsoft Gold Partner called UniTech based in Edinburgh and London. I worked with UniTech for 4 and a half years managing a development team, an office and a Portfolio of Projects spanning web/software/application development, Microsoft SharePoint (Microsoft Office 365 & On-Premise), Azure and .NET Framework development including pre-sales and Account Management.

It was busy, hard work and a steep learning curve getting my head around the idiosyncrasies of working in the tech industry, and the new technologies I was working with.

I loved every minute of it, but as with all things the time came when I needed a new challenge to embrace. UniTech was a small UK based company and I was ready to experience a global organisation, working more on the edge of new technologies.

So I decided the time had come to make a move into the world of Cloud and I joined the team at Cloudreach in 2013 as a Cloud Engagement Manager (CEM) consulting on and managing complex transformation Programmes & Projects within AWS, Azure, Google and SFDC.

I delivered over 50 engagements during my first 2.5 years – again it was a steep learning curve – this time getting my head around the fast moving world of the Cloud. It was a lot of work, extra hours, travel and personal sacrifice but it was worth it for the personal achievement and professional satisfaction it gave me.

I progressed to the role of Cloud Leader (Managing a UK based professional services team) & CEM Role Owner. Latterly I progressed to the role of Cloud Enablement Leader – leading a multi-tiered, distributed, cross geography (UK, Netherlands & Germany) Professional Services team enabling innovation and delivering consulting services into Enterprise level Customers across a wide range of industry sectors and Countries.

As the CEM Role Owner I continued to lead Cloudreach’s Cloud Engagement Management function (Programme, Project & Change Management) in parallel with my leadership roles.

This gave me a unique opportunity to lead and inspire a community of experienced and passionate individuals across Programme, Project & Change Management in addition to my core team. Both by providing practical support in the form of on-boarding, training paths, resources, processes, procedures, methodologies and defining new product catalogues while at the same time inspiring passion, instilling best practice and driving the community forward.

I am passionate about what I do and where I do it.

I am passionate about not just leadership, but strong leadership. I love working for inspirational leaders, and being an inspirational leader myself.

I am excited about the ever changing, fast paced innovative landscape of technology, cloud or otherwise, and moving with it.

In March of this year (2017) Cloudreach sold a majority stake in the business to Blackstone. In May this year (2017) I decided that after 20 years of working with the odd 1 or 2 week holiday here and there that it was time for a change and I left Cloudreach to take the opportunity to do some more travelling and professional training before looking for my next role – my own “gap year quarter”.

As I write I am about to embark on a Grand European Tour for the next 2 months (pre-Brexit!) including visiting more of the UK, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

I am excited about blogging my experiences, with hints and tips for anyone else looking to do a similar trip/gap quarter! (personal me)

On my return in August I plan to complete some additional professional training and start looking for my next role / challenge.

I’m looking forward to where my professional journey will take me next as much as I am looking forward to my journey around Europe.

You can find me on LinkedIn where you can read a full overview of my career to date.