Name: Steve Cowell
Degree Course: Business Computing with a Year in Industry
Why did you choose Kent?
When looking for a University and course I was keen on making sure there were strong links to industry and strong job prospects, both of which Kent consistently score high marks. It also helped that the career and employability service at Kent has a very strong reputation for supporting students secure graduate positions.
What attracted you to the course?
My ambition was to work for a technology company as I have always had a strong interest in technology and business, but like most people looking at Universities, I wasn’t completely decided on what I wanted to do once I graduated. The course offered a good blend of two subject areas I was interested in and gave me a variety of potential career opportunities.
Did you do a year in industry? If so where and how useful was it in getting a graduate job?
I completed a year in industry at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in Sandwich within the information and records management department. The skills, experience and confidence I gained were invaluable when applying for roles in a hugely competitive graduate jobs market. I was able to draw from that experience and provide strong examples in the competency-based interviews, and I have no doubt this helped me secure a graduate scheme. Those skills and experiences were also very useful as I transitioned from education into the workplace, something that shouldn’t be underestimated!
How did your degree course lay the foundations for your chosen career path?
The blend of knowledge I gained across the two subject areas has helped me progress my career as I have transitioned from more technical roles into more business management and sales roles. Being able to understand the technology and apply that into business conversations has been a great help in building credibility both internally and with my customers. The soft skills gained such as time management, group work, delivering presentations and communication have also been hugely beneficial.
Could you describe your career path since leaving Kent?
Following graduation, I secured a graduate programme at Hewlett Packard (HP) as an Account Support Manager. Based in Bracknell I was managing service delivery for enterprise customers in the City of London. After 18 months in the role, I secured a new role as the Category Manager for the HP UK&I x86 server business, this involved a mixture of product management, business development and programme management. During my 4 years within this role, I also completed an intensive 9 months sales school programme that has allowed me to transition into various datacentre infrastructure sales roles within the newly formed Hewlett Packard Enterprise organisation.
Could you describe a typical day in your current role?
One of the benefits of my role is that it offers a variety of challenges, so no day is the same! My aligned accounts are a mixture of public and private organisations, and core to my role is speaking to customers to understand their challenges, build a relationship with them and align the capability of my area of the HPE portfolio to address their needs. This would usually involve travel but given the pandemic is conducted virtually.
I am also responsible for driving relationships with our partner community (who we sell through) to drive business development activities. Outside of this, I ensure to keep on top of industry trends, product updates, internal networking, what the competition is doing and sales forecasting.
What are your future plans/aspirations?
The pace of change within technology and business has only accelerated since the pandemic so in the short term I aim to continue to develop my sales skills and ensure that I continue to stay relevant. My longer-term ambition is to move into a leadership role as I get an enormous sense of satisfaction in developing and supporting others. HPE is supporting my development by providing the opportunity for me to study for a CMI Level 5 Diploma in Management & Leadership as part of an apprenticeship scheme.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to Kent?
As well as the course itself, focus on developing soft skills and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Take the opportunity to meet others from different courses to gain a different perspective. Ensure to make the most of the fantastic employability & careers resources available.