Vapour’s head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, will take to the ‘virtual stage’ next month, when she participates in a straight-talking webinar about the topic of brand in tech.

Organised by the team at legal specialist Mills & Reeve, the sixty-minute online event seeks to delve into the fundamentals of building a successful brand and protecting it – not least to mitigate the risks of imitation.

With over 20 years’ experience in the tech industry, Carol will share her own perspective on the rebrand of Vapour – which not only gave the company a fresh visual identity, but further served as a mechanism to completely reposition the brand in a crowded space – and speak on the role of authenticity in personal branding.

Also joining Carol on the webinar will be Lesley Gulliver, managing director at The Engine Room – the strategic brand consultancy responsible for taking Vapour on this journey last year.

Head of intellectual property litigation at Mills & Reeve, Claire O’Brien, completes the line-up of panellists. She will share her expertise on intangible business assets, as well as how to safeguard them to protect long-term viability and set your organisation apart from competitors.

Commenting on the opportunity to be involved in the webinar, Carol said: “There are so many difficulties for women trying to emerge into the tech industry – I think it’s crucial to offer guidance and be unapologetically visible to show that it doesn’t have to be male-dominated. Breaking past the struggle of ‘imposter syndrome’ can be a challenge, but owning your expertise is just the first step to enhancing your personal brand and differentiating you from the crowd.”

To register for this free webinar, taking place on Wednesday 9th February at 10am, sign up here.

It’s Adam’s turn in the spotlight this month. Sharing how his latest tech purchase is helping integrate his devices more effectively, and why it’s important to have a team filled with bright and versatile people.

Your 60 seconds start now Adam! Take it away:

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Starting at Vapour was my first full-time role. When I was looking at getting a job in finance, I started searching for companies in the local area, and as someone from nearby Halifax, this was a perfect fit.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

I would have to say the PlayStation 2. I was a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and a StarWars Battlefront fan back in the day – those games kept me entertained for years.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Teamwork, as without it, you can’t really get anywhere. At Vapour we all bring a different set of skills and experience, so when we work together, we can fill knowledge gaps – this is so important in an industry like tech.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

All of the big words and acronyms! Working on the finance side of the tech, it can be hard to translate the jargon from one company to the next, especially in invoicing. It also makes it much more daunting and complex when working alongside customers who aren’t used to the language, so in an ideal world everything would be much more straight-forward and easier to understand.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

The team is filled with really bright and talented people. When you call us up, you can get through to the person best equipped to help you, which can be rare in the tech space.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The mobile phone. Having the technology to contact people no matter where you are makes it so much easier to stay connected.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

That’s a tough one. I’ve recently invested in an Apple Watch, moving over from Samsung for a more integrated ecosystem – so I don’t have any other tech on my wishlist just yet.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

Everyone knows everything! Going back to my point about teamwork, we have a lot of intelligent brains that make up the Vapour team, and their different skill-sets and specialisms are key. Tech isn’t an industry where one person can know everything – you’ve got voice, storage, security, and connectivity to name just a few.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Cohesive – because working from home has sectioned people off and potentially made it harder to keep track of projects, morale, and connectedness. Our tech makes that easier, bridging that gap and maximising what is possible in organisations, no matter how large or small.

A lover of the simpler things in life, Adam has taken on a ‘Beige vs. Food’ challenge to raise money for the premature birth charity, Borne - as we continue towards our boldest target yet – a staggering £23,000! Follow challenge over on our Instagram.

It’s Amanda Harrison’s turn in the spotlight this month…

Sharing her nostalgia of playing Pac-Man on a retro Atari games console, to creating new gaming memories with her son using virtual reality tech, Amanda shares her hopes of demystifying the complex jargon within the sector to make it more inclusive, and why sometimes it’s all about asking the right questions to ensure your solutions aren’t just ‘off the shelf’ one size fits all.

The floor is yours Amanda – your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

It was a bit of a fluke really it was my first full-time job when I left school. I started in a customer service role discussing billing, services, fault troubleshooting, and general enquiries. I loved working with people and quickly realised I enjoyed learning about the technical side to the role too. I was given the opportunity to go out on site visits with engineering and networks teams so I could see what the job truly entailed – I was even able to help pull out fibre optic cable in the middle of Glasgow City centre! I was hooked from then.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

Atari games consoles my favourite was Pac-Man, I absolutely loved that game.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Adaptability. Tech is ever changing alongside customer needs and expectations. Change is something that you need to be good at handling, and it makes the job so much more exciting.

At Vapour we are always learning about new innovations and developments, constantly looking for better ways to do things and disrupting the status quo.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Jargon, there is way too much of it. It can sometimes make it hard to break down the barriers for people to adopt new technology. If it was made simpler – so that everyone could understand – everyone could benefit.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

We have years of knowledge and experience in the technology industry, and we are passionate about what we do. We’re a great team that loves to get under the skin of our customers, to ensure we can support them in the best way possible. And our services have gone far beyond the conventional voice and data solutions you typically see in the industry.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

Satellite navigation, as it means I never have to worry about getting lost or trying to read a printout of AA route finder on a long car journey! It’s made travelling so much more direct and straightforward.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

A virtual reality headset so that I can start to enjoy gaming with my boy.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

You have to order off the shelf. We can tailor solutions to fit various requirements – it’s all about understanding what you want the technology to do. At Vapour we ask the right questions so that we can personalise our offering. That’s when things become really powerful and often effortlessly simple too.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Flexible, with the ability to work anywhere, any time. The pandemic has pushed this technology forward, but many organisations are still not using the cloud to its full potential when it comes to security, agility and conveniency. I’d like to see more of this going forward, as many companies only have a ‘sticking plaster’ at the moment.

He’s the newest face at Vapour’s HQ, and news of his appointment caused quite a stir in the tech industry when we revealed he had become our senior account director. So, we’ve mixed up our regular Q&A this month, so you can discover what all the fuss is about.

Glenn Ollivant, it’s over to you…

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

In a work capacity, it has to be securing one of TalkTalk’s largest single converged international network deals for data and voice services.

In a personal sense, I’m a very proud father of three amazing girls – Betsy (11), Imelda (9), and Nell (7). Kids keep you young, tired and poor – but it’s all worth it!

Name one thing people might not know about you

I did plenty of travelling during my 20s and had some crazy jobs along the way – one was plucking chickens! Even some of my closest friends don’t know that.

Tell us a fact about yourself that might surprise people

I’ve been a governor at our children’s school before – that always makes my friends laugh because they can’t picture me in that setting. I did that for three years before work and travel made it hard to fully commit to, but I’m still very active with school particularly their team sports.

Describe what you get up to on a typical weekend

There isn’t really any let up for us at the weekend – those days went years ago! I coach Betsy and Imelda’s football team so we’re either playing or training early, then we’re off to some other sort of class or child social engagement. I always make time for a Friday night pint though to decompress with the family. And Sundays are all about doing something together – often a walk, food, then a good film to finish off the weekend.

What’s the best piece of tech you’ve ever owned?

It’s got to be the first-generation iPods – downloading all that music (legally) blew my mind at the time! It’s crazy where we’ve got to now, across all brands, tech and devices though.

What sparked your interest in working in the tech sector?

It would be very crude to say money, but I genuinely wanted a better job, career options and lifestyle. It seemed a fast paced and cool place to work compared to where I came from – selling stainless steel! They’re chalk and cheese!

It was the best decision I ever made – it’s been both incredibly challenging and rewarding in equal measure. And now I’ve come full circle, working for the chap that gave me that first shot!

You receive an email from your dream client… who would it be and why?

I’m a big sport nut and sport documentary fan, and I’m particularly obsessed with Michael Jordan. Throughout my life I’ve had a 23 jersey and pair of Jordans, but after watching “The Last Dance” on Netflix I became even more obsessed. Just everything about him strikes a note that hard work really pays off – I really admire the way he trained and demanded so much of his teammates. He would have some great stories to tell, I’m sure – particularly about Rodman. Hopefully, he’d need a bit of disruptive cloud tech too!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

If it’s a movie about my life we’ve got to get the accent right, so being a proud northerner I’m going to say Sean Bean. I’d like to say Daniel Craig but I’m not sure he’d nail the twang!

If you were in charge of Vapour for the day, what would be your number one rule/objective/goal?

Ensure we deliver on the expectations we set our clients and partners. If we don’t look after them at every single touch point someone else will, and we could potentially lose them forever.

Describe your job/company to an alien

Assuming they understand my fairly broad Yorkshire accent I’d say very fast paced, disruptive, and genuinely keen to make our technology uncomplicated, so that we remain easy to deal with.

Experienced industry professional Glenn Ollivant has joined the team as senior account director, exactly 15 years after he was first hired and trained by CEO, Tim Mercer.

Glenn switched from selling stainless steel to circuits back in October 2006, when Tim – then regional sales manager at Virgin Media Business (formerly TeleWest) – saw his potential. He quickly found his feet in the tech sector, progressing up the ranks at Virgin, before moving on to enterprise sales roles at Kcom and TalkTalk Business. 

Departing as TalkTalk’s technology and UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) specialist, his name remains firmly in the record books having secured what is still one of the company’s largest ever deals.

And now he’s back working alongside some familiar faces, including Vapour’s head of transformation and operations Carol McGrotty, and sales manager Alec Stephens - who also propelled their careers following long stints at Virgin.

Things may have come full circle for Glenn in terms of his team mates, but the opportunity firmly represents his most exciting move yet, he believes.

“I’ve watched the Vapour journey with utmost respect for what Tim and the team have done,” commented Glenn. “We all knew the market wasn’t ready for a pure cloud offering when Vapour was launched in 2013. But the ambition, drive and foresight means that bold leap is now paying off - especially because organisations’ adoption of cloud tech has rocketed over the past 18 months.

“Working both with partners and now directly with end customers too – on more conventional solutions such as Unified Communications and backups, as well as cutting-edge virtual desktop infrastructures, secure networks for hybrid working, and even robotic process automation – this is absolutely the right next step for me. I’ve set myself bold targets, never mind the goals that have been outlined as part of my role!”

Glenn’s appointment represents the latest senior hire for us at Vapour, in the year we rebranded and evolved our toolkit to include next generation cloud tech, far beyond traditional voice, networks and storage mainstay.

Pushing for 20% revenue growth by the end of 2022, Glenn’s appointment will prove critical to the expansion of the new and existing business pipeline – not to mention the market better understanding what Vapour 2.0 can do.

“People of Glenn’s calibre don’t come along every day,” admitted CEO Tim Mercer. “I know – I mentored him! But the time is right for us to join forces once again, not least because the market is opening up again and we have the same attitude when it comes to supporting customers. His quality of service is outstanding, and he knows exactly what you can achieve in organisations if you’re agile, inquisitive and collaborative.”

“I’m really excited by Vapour’s tech stack,” added Glenn. “We can transform customers’ resilience and productivity, even with some simple tweaks to their infrastructure. And that energises me.

“That, and Vapour’s culture. I want to put some vibrancy back into my career.”

It’s Adam G’s turn in the spotlight this month! His passion for tech and interest in computers has shaped his career, from as early as choosing his subjects in college. He reflects on his nostalgic memories of using infrared to share music across the classroom, why effective communication is a key skill at Vapour, alongside his experience of the tech sector so far.  

Your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Tech has been something I’ve had an interest in from an early age. Since school I knew I wanted to work with computers, so when I got the option to choose my subjects in college, I went with IT systems support – and I’ve been in the sector ever since!

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

Before the likes of Spotify and YouTube, we used to send songs across the classroom through infrared, which then progressed to Bluetooth later down the line. Oh, the nostalgia!

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Good communication is always key. We can sometimes be using quite technical language, so it’s a quality that helps break down those barriers when working with clients.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

The fact that so much of our personal information is stored for marketing purposes. It can sometimes come across as fairly invasive. I know this is changing, but there still seems to be plenty of ways for companies to get around it.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

The people at Vapour are what makes the company stand out. All my colleagues are fantastic at what they do, and they know how to ask the right questions for our clients and communicate effectively.  I think that’s important.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The computer! We spend all our working day on it.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

A new mobile phone.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...

Amazon. We just couldn’t have done without it over the last few years.

The biggest misconception in the sector is that...

One size fits all. The right tech will adapt to the needs of your business, not the other way around.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Productive. I think that the pandemic has left a lot of organisations needing to revaluate their tech systems and has demonstrated just what is possible, in terms of efficiency, flexibility and collaboration.

Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer will take to the stage later this month, as he heads to Technology Live in London.

The one-day channel partner event will see providers from the cloud, MPS, voice, SaaS, storage, UC, security, and AI worlds – among others – gather to discuss emerging tech and opportunities.

And Tim has been invited to the Business Design Centre as a panellist on the ‘Making a Success of Diversification’ debate.

As the Technology Live programme highlights, technology convergence, changing customer requirements, and competitive pressures, have all made diversification possible and desirable, but what is the best approach?

This is exactly what the speakers will explore on the day (28 September).

Tim will therefore share his personal opinions and experiences from the helm of Vapour, as the discussion unfolds.

Elaborating on the session topic, he said: “As a business, we’ve been very open about the role of channel collaboration, as our company’s journey has unfolded. There’s usually very little value in being a ‘jack of all trades’, but when the expertise of true specialists comes together, the result is often a very powerful solution for the customer.”

“There are challenges with this approach of course, not least sourcing best of breed partners who will commit to the same standards as you,” he added. “As we’ve diversified Vapour’s offering over the years, we’ve therefore thought carefully about who we partner with and when, and we’ve evolved many of our own capabilities too, to deliver end-to-end support and plug any market gaps that may otherwise leave a customer exposed.

“This has naturally made us more resilient as a business too – if we’d stuck with the delivery of cloud voice, networks and storage alone, for instance, we wouldn’t be having half the conversations we’re currently having with progressive organisations keen to futureproof themselves in the evolving world of hybrid working. Technology is an enabler after all, but it is up to providers to showcase what it’s really capable of.”

Technology Live is free to attend but pre-registration is advised: https://technologylive.co.uk/register

It’s Debbie's turn in the spotlight this month. Having recently returned to the tech sector after a break, she’s keen to change the number of complex jargon and acronyms that make our world a daunting and sometimes inaccessible industry. With a keen interest in new innovations and how things work, the self-confessed music lover has a new ‘Sonos’ speaker on her tech wishlist, claiming it provides a more immersive experience that can’t be beaten!

Debbie, your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Back in 2003, I started working as a customer service advisor for a local cable TV company. As the company progressed and tech developed mainly around customer relations, retentions and customer experience, my roles adapted to suit, and I was able to become more exposed to the world of technology. I’ve always had a keen interest in technical developments and love to know how things work.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

Back before vinyl came back into fashion, I had a stereo with a turntable and cassette deck – I must have been around 10 at the time! I didn’t have any cassettes though, so I’m glad to see they’re making a comeback.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Passion for what you’re delivering, believing in the products and service you provide, and having the confidence to push to get the right results. At Vapour, we strive to overachieve on customers’ expectations, and I think that’s such an important quality.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Acronyms – the number of acronyms has increased exponentially, and having recently returned to the tech sector, Even I have had a lot to catch up on!

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

The staff and our passion for everything Vapour is trying to achieve. We see outside the box to ensure customers get the right solution. We aren’t afraid to ask ‘why’.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...computers. They changed the world from getting cash out of a hole in the wall in the 70s to advancements in medicine and manufacturing

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a Sonos Sub! I love music, and Sonos has thought of everything for music lovers. They’re able to make the experience totally immersive.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...  Amazon, if we can class them as a tech firm – they’ve been a godsend this past 12 months.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...you have to be a ‘techy’ to understand technology!

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...agile. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, and it’s no longer enough to just continue with the same digital structure that once existed. People are going to demand more flexibility and agility – which is where we come in.

Next up, we’ll be featuring service desk lead, Adam Greenhalgh, so keep your eyes peeled in October!

It’s Mark Taylor’s turn in the spotlight this month. Born right at the start of the tech boom, with access to PC and video games from a young age, Mark’s passion for the dynamic technology industry, and how it can be used to create so many opportunities within society, continues to develop.

Over to you Mark, your 60 seconds start now…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

Some years ago, I started reading more into AI technology and its capabilities. I’m fascinated by what AI can do, and what the industry is expecting / predicting from this type of technology in the future. The evolution of AI creates so many interesting opportunities for everyone in society!

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

As a keen PC gamer when I was younger, I played anything from ‘The Sims’ to strategy games like ‘Age of Empires’. I think I was born just at the right time, at the start of the tech boom that has developed into what it is today.

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

A collaborative nature – whether you’re working with a customer, your own team, or another stakeholder, it’s important to work together to explore the options and find the best solution.

In an industry as dynamic as the technology sector – which continues to evolve and change - this is especially important. At Vapour, we share ideas and support each other to ensure we’re delivering the best possible solution and services to our customers.

What is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

Access to the industry! Both knowledge of, and access to technology can sometimes be limited depending on a person’s background or upbringing. Introducing more people to digital platforms and skillsets supports the development of education within society, helps connectivity and the sharing of information across the world, maximising the capabilities of tech even further.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Vapour is more than just a provider of tech solutions - we stand out as a true partner in the tech space. We communicate and ask questions to understand customer needs, and delve into not only what, but also why they need a particular solution.

We’re about building a more personal relationship too, ensuring the customer feels they can come back to us long into the future, as their requirements change and develop, which I think is increasingly important.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The internet.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

Either a decent pair of speakers or a PlayStation5.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...

Google.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

‘One size fits all’ - An organisation’s tech infrastructure and requirements can change depending on a multitude of factors - their industry or sector, company size, and even key challenges. It’s about understanding and consulting on where tech products and services can be of benefit.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Knowledgeable and efficient.

It’s Dan Needham’s turn in the spotlight this month. His early introduction into tech started at just six years old with a PlayStation One, and who can blame him - they were all the range back in the day. But flash forward to 2021, and it’s clear that for Dan, the way that tech can bring people together and encourage that feeling of community is prominent.

Take it away Dan…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

From a professional standpoint, I was introduced to the world of tech by BrightHR, a Software as a Service companythat transforms the way organisations manage people.

And what is your earliest memory of tech in your life?

It has to bewhen I got my first PlayStation One for my birthday at about six years old. Playing games like Rayman and Spyro were my earliest memory of tech - those were the days!

What’s the one quality you need to thrive in this environment (especially at Vapour)?

Be self-motivated with passion. You need to know the industry back to front and be able to read up on the topics that matter to truly relate to your customers.

And what is the one thing you would change about the tech sector?

I would change the perception of the tech sector. It sometimes has a negative connotation due to people not having the right understanding of what it is and what it can really do.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

If you want something doing at Vapour, the answer is usually always yes, we love a challenge and aren’t easily fazed. And, if we can’t help you, we know someone who can.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

It has to be the internet – it’s great at bringing everyone together, and especially over the last year this has been extremely important.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is...

An Apple Watch – I’ve had a Fitbit for the last few years and would love to upgrade to an Apple Watch as my next tech purchase.

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is...

This is a tricky one, especially after the year we’ve had, where overnight we were plunged into relying so much more on tech than we were used to. I’m going to have to say investment platform eToro. They provide a community that shares information about investment and makes it accessible for everyone.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that...

Moving to the cloud is complicated… with the right vision and strategy, the move can be made easy.

By the end of 2021, our tech will have made organisations far more...

Secure – cyber security breaches and ransomware attacks can be really costly, so organisations need to be more proactive rather than reactive in our security.

sign up for latest news