It is Sam’s turn in the spotlight this month, as he tells us about breaking into the tech industry, his love of gaming, and why Tesla’s innovations have been a real stand-out over the last 12 months…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

It’s always been more of a passion than anything. I loved gaming and anything sci-fi related from a young age, and as I grew older, I found a keen interest in building PC’s too.

So, when it came to planning out my career prospects, it seemed like the obvious choice to look at avenues in tech – not least because it’s such a fast-growing industry. I saw Vapour doing great things, and wanted to get my foot in the door.

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

The Atari Joystick was my bread and butter for years. Pacman, Dig Dug – I used to play them all!

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

I’d say willingness to learn and try new things.

Both the tech industry and Vapour as a business are constantly evolving, and innovation never stands still – even the experts don’t know what’s on the horizon at times. That’s why it’s crucial to be open-minded to change and exploration.

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

The jargon. Technical language needs to be simpler across the board.

As much as tech is integrated into the world, there’s a lot of people who don’t know where to start – including employees. When I joined Vapour, I sought the role out directly because the team is so straight-talking and has a proven track record. Others might not be so lucky in getting that entry-level foot in the door.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

First-class products are a given with Vapour, and the results they achieve are testament to their success.

But something that really stands out for me, above all else, is the level of customer service we offer. You can rely on the team 24/7, and customers are constantly firing positive feedback our way.

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is...

The Gameboy. It was so ahead of its time in terms of portable gaming, and I spent hours on end during car trips as a child on it.  

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wish list is...

A sturdier pair of headphones – mine always seem to be breaking!

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

I’d have to say Tesla. Having studied environmental sciences at university, electric cars are something that really pique my interest. From supercharging stations to the energy storage Megapacks, they’re always doing something to disrupt the industry!

 

It is Jordan’s turn in the spotlight this month, as he tells us about his days of playing FIFA 2004 on a PlayStation 1, his hope to see flying Tesla cars, and how he thinks the best piece of tech invented is the smart phone. 

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I initially wanted to be an electrician. Whilst I was doing my electrical courses in 2012, I was pleasantly introduced to my colleges 3x 48u racks full of cables, switches, and routers. Ever since I set my eyes on this, I was fixated. I asked my electrical tutor more questions about the rack than I did about 3 phase induction motors. 

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

My earliest memory has got to be playing FIFA 2004 on the PlayStation 1. I was bad at this game and probably experienced too many angry moments by not being able to score goals on easy mode. 

As well as this, the first time I can remember being exposed to tech was having my first mobile phone – a Nokia 65000 – and downloading the soundtrack to ‘War of the Worlds’ from a well-known free website called ‘LimeWire’. I had to transfer it onto one phone and then Bluetooth it over to my own phone – this took 3 hours!

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

I wouldn’t pinpoint one skill specifically. To thrive I think people need to have multiple skills. For example, Vapour is full of individuals with a broad range of skillsets, and this is where I feel I fit in well. 

I would say being diverse would make people thrive in any environment, especially at Vapour where technology is at its forefront. 

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

I wouldn’t change anything. I think the direction we’re heading in should help develop the world and help us understand what we need to do in the future. 

Although, I would like to see flying Tesla’s in a few years so if Elon can hurry up with that before I’m to old to drive and need a bus pass.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

I think Vapour can service and manage any business model, with its vast range of technology offerings. There aren’t many companies out there that can offer this many and be good at it. 

Vapour offers numerous products that are great and still provides excellent service to the market. 

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... a Smart Phone

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wish list is... an 8k TV 65”, keychron k2 keyboardA tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Amazon

Vapour’s head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty, recently took part in a Q&A session for a feature on women in tech, with PCR magazine. If you missed it, you can read the article in full here...

1. Please could you provide name, job title, company

Carol McGrotty, Head of Transformation & Operations, Vapour

2. What is your professional background and how has this contributed to your current working position?

I joined the tech sector at the start of 2000, following a seven-year period working in insurance.  Initially, this was in a provisioning role delivering projects to enterprise and public sector customers, whilst also contributing to process improvement workstreams and new-to-market product launches. 

Having curiosity, a drive for purposeful transformation and a collaborative approach within the industry are still fundamentals in my position at Vapour today, as much as they were back when I began my tech journey.

3. What are your experiences of being a female tech leader?

For me it has always been a very positive experience, and I often refer to the fact that I am lucky in this regard – on reflection I wonder why this is, as surely it should be the norm for all females in this industry. When I started out in tech I had some very strong, knowledgeable and inspiring female leaders around me – who also then became my mentors.  Having had this grounding from the start of my career in tech has made me feel extremely passionate about being the same to other upcoming females.

4. What challenge have you encountered, if any, being a female in the tech sector?

Not so much of a challenge, but as I attend events, meetings and focus groups, I can often be the only female in the room.  At first, I could have seen this as a challenge – coupled with making it clear that you aren’t in attendance simply to take the minutes! But this is where relationship building comes to the fore, as does knowing your topic well, showing passion, listening to other peoples’ view points, and not trying to be someone else. As a female in tech if you’ve earned your right for a seat at the table, then you absolutely should be there.

5. What are your interests and passions in regards to working in the tech channel?

A key part of my role at Vapour is promoting our culture, leading by example on our company values and behaviours, and encouraging and supporting our teams in doing the same – through initiatives, committees, focus groups and sponsors. This aligns to another of my real passions, sustainability – not just at Vapour, but also within the industry as a whole and among our clients, by supporting their digital transformation with sustainable decisions.  Our ESG strategy and execution is paramount.

6. How can the channel drive greater diversity in the sector?

We need diversity in the sector from the floor level to the boardroom, to ensure there are a diverse range of views – this is particularly the case in tech, where innovation plays such a vital role.  Having this as a value and behaviour within the business, shows the support that comes from board level, and the role everyone can play.  By opening up discussions at department meetings, and even having a committee in place to be involved in driving change where needed, it is important to think outside the box to accommodate everyone, and continue to push for diversity and consider all needs.

7. How can the channel look to attract more females into leadership positions in the channel?

There is evidence to show that having females in leadership and board positions can improve performance and attract more female talent into businesses, particularly in roles that would previously have been deemed male-orientated such as engineering. 

Having policies such as split maternity/paternity leave, advertising job salaries to be transparent and ensuring female mentoring programmes are in place, all helps, as well as supporting on leadership and training programmes, and reviewing how job adverts are written (in less masculine language). Our male colleagues can be allies in this too – it is not just a female subject to drive and champion.

From landing client contracts and speaking at industry events, to securing recognition for our impact and embarking on fundraising endeavours, it’s been an exciting time for Vapour. And as we prepare to launch into our tenth year of growth, we’re yet to see our trajectory stall.

That’s why we’re seeking a new sales and marketing administrator to welcome into the fold immediately. This will be a critical role at the heart of a busy and growing sales team, with an opportunity to also work closely with our CEO and head of communications.

The world is your oyster too. Vapour is passionate about nurturing and retaining talent with tailored career development plans. This role could therefore evolve with progression opportunities in the sales/marketing teams or office management, in the future.

Right now, the priority is the appointment of a committed, outgoing and diligent self-starter, who is extremely organised, has a ‘can do’ attitude, and is looking to grow in a company that cares about its people, customers, charity (Borne), and the environment.

Discover more specifics of the role on offer…

Job title: Sales and Marketing Administrator

Location: Heritage Exchange, Huddersfield

Our vibrant office is located in the heart of a restored textiles mill in Lindley, 5 minutes from the M62 and less than 10 minutes from Huddersfield train station. The bustling location has an on-site deli cafe, gym (with discounted membership for employees), spa, free parking, hair salon, and more.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-5:30pm

This is a full-time position, but flexible working is offered as standard.

Responsibilities include:

Holidays: 20 days per calendar year, plus birthday holiday

Holidays increase 1 day per year following 1 year of service at the start of each holiday calendar – up to a maximum of 5 days.

Additional benefits include:

About the company: Vapour was founded in November 2013, coming to the market with a cloud-first mission that sought to disrupt, innovate, and demystify the world of tech. Since then, we’ve helped organisations of all shapes and sizes unlock significant growth with high-performance strategic technology.

While technology is exciting, innovations starts with people. That’s why we’re known just as much for our team as we are our toolkit, and why each new hire plays an integral role in helping shape our future.

Relevant experience is desirable for this role, but not essential, as full training will be provided to the successful candidate.

So, whether you’re starting out on a new career path, or have a rich history in the sales and marketing industry, we look forward to hearing from you.

Apply now, by sending your CV to: careers@vapourcloud.com   

It’s Graeme’s turn in the spotlight this month. Today he shares that his love for tech stemmed from working on nuclear submarines, expresses his admiration of Apple and debunks the misconception that tech needs to be complicated…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I think I’ve always had an interest in tech. From calibrating reactor instrumentation onboard nuclear submarines in the Royal Navy to piloting remote vehicles on the seabed while offshore, which then led me to enter the telecoms world for the last nine years. 

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

I’m going to show my age here…. I’d say probably a BBC micro when I was at junior school – for those who don’t know, enjoy googling that! I also remember a ZX Spectrum playing Daley Thompsons Decathlon.

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

I don’t believe there is one specific quality needed. I think you need to have many attributes to your persona and then be able to bring them together to get a full understanding of each customer requirement.

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

Too many acronyms…the fact that suppliers and manufacturers produce a similar product but then decide to overcomplicate things by using new acronyms for services and products that already exist.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

Before joining Vapour, I spoke to various contacts I have within the industry, and all had positive things to say about the company. From my time here so far, I can see that the company’s biggest assets are the staff and how we pull together to give the customer the best experience we can.

Complete the sentences:

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... a Garmin Vivoactive watch – which I’ve just bought myself to monitor my fitness training. 

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Apple. I know this is going to divide the room, but the company is big for me at the minute. 

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... tech needs to be overly complicated.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more... collaborative - giving users an increased ability to work in multiple locations.

It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope or your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.

So, to champion some of the industry’ finest talent, and gain some insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.

Up next, it’s Craig Webster – contracts manager at award-winning IT service provider, Mint Support. Take it away, Craig…

Tell us about your role at Mint Support and the part you play in the tech sector.

As contracts manager, I’m responsible for maintaining and developing relationships with our new and existing customers – I’m always on the lookout for improvements in both service and delivery. Mint provides managed support services, primarily for the education sector, but also for businesses too.

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

IT is continually developing, so keeping abreast of developments and being able to support customers through these changes is key. You could say that the PC and internet were the innovations that allowed us to ‘exist’, and their continuous developments mean we are always working alongside new technology.

And where’s next for your business?

We’re migrating into communication technology and making the most of remote tools to deliver services to customers further afield.

The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

That technology will solve everything.

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

Further development in AI and automation – that is definitely a trend I expect to see grow. I also think that we will see much more focus on sustainability and greener solutions within the tech space over the coming months.

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel their tech career?

Remember that technology is there to make life better for the end user. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people.

The next purchase on my personal tech wishlist is…?

I’d love a drone – using that technology to capture creative video and photography appeals to me.

What is one longstanding piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

The vinyl record – but I’m glad it still exists.

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’m a simple guy who remembers a time before the internet, so I can think of plenty of things. For me, I enjoy getting out of the house for a long walk and spending time with my family and friends. I think that sometimes, even if the internet is working fine, we should switch off, as it is easy to get distracted.

Vapour boss Tim Mercer has signed up for his toughest fundraiser yet, all in aid of the premature birth charity, Borne.

On 19 May, our CEO will don his boxing gloves and step into the ring for the CRN Fight Night, at The Brewery in London.

A sell out industry event that has raised £220,000 for charity since the contests began in 2008, this is Tim’s first time up against an opponent.

Aware the selection process is notoriously tough, he applied to fight at the start of 2022, before being invited for a nerve-racking assessment. He was one of only 16 UK tech professionals selected, and all eyes are now on the black-tie event to see if Tim ‘No Mercy’ Mercer can bring home the title.

Fighting for the blue team, he will face Paul O’Sullivan, UK sales director at Threatscape, in the red corner.

Travelling to the Ring Boxing Club in Southwark, South London, every week for training, Tim had already upped his fitness regime last year, in preparation for his ‘week of hell’. That particular challenge - which saw him row, cycle, run and climb 286km - was one of his first major fundraisers for Borne back in October.

Since then, he and the Vapour team have raised £8,500 for the charity - and counting - with hopes that Fight Night will get them to £15,000. The ultimate goal is to reach £23,000 before the year is out.

Commenting on his latest challenge, Tim said: “I’m a big boxing fan, so when I saw the application process open for Fight Night, I thought - why not?!

“But when the news dropped that I’d made the lineup, s**t got real!

“There’s a difference between sparring and going toe to toe with an opponent - as I’ve already learned. But I’m tackling this event just as I would anything else - properly! I’m training hard, eating really well, and improving my technique week by week. I’ve got a table of supporters coming to cheer me on but I hope people will get behind me from a distance too, and dig deep for Borne.”

Over 15 million babies are born too soon every year, and 1 million of those die. Borne is a charity dedicated to saving lives, preventing disability, and creating lifelong health for mothers and babies. Anyone wishing to sponsor Tim can donate via Vapour’s JustGiving page.

It’s Katie’s turn in the spotlight this month. Here she shares the role communications can play in driving tech sector change, the need for energy in our business, and what journalists REALLY think about Vapour…

How did you first get into the world of tech?

I come from the comms side of tech and started out in the industry in 2006. I worked for a PR agency with a varied client base, at the time, but naturally gravitated towards the ‘geekier’ of businesses. These were the stories I found the most thought-provoking, especially if you could debunk the jargon and relate to stakeholders at any level. In 2013, I left to focus solely on technical communications – and ‘ta dah’, here I am at Vapour.

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

I had a rainbow-coloured kids’ typewriter, not long after I could walk. As I grew up, I advanced to a PC, practically the size of our dining table!

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

One is hard, as there are lots of values that differentiate Vapour in a crowded tech space. But I’d probably say energy. The pace of innovation is fast, and the appetite to solve customers’ challenges never stops. This is in the DNA of the whole team, not just the CEO, which means there’s always something to talk about. This energy keeps us all moving forward.

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

The perception that all suppliers exploit how complex it is. This view suggests dishonesty or a lack of transparency – and don’t get me wrong, some companies will take advantage of how ‘green’ customers can be. But that’s not Vapour – and I’m sure there are other companies equally passionate about banishing this misconception. Yes, it’s complicated sometimes, but there’s always a way to explain it, honestly and respectfully so that everyone in the room can make informed decisions.

Why do you think Vapour stands out in the channel?

I am genuinely proud of the Vapour brand. I don’t just mean the logo (although it’s cool, right?) I mean the reputation Vapour has carved for itself, despite not being the biggest player – we’re not nestled in a city centre tech district either. But I spoke to a journalist the other day and he said: “I used to think you punched above your weight – and I admired Vapour for that. Now I realise you rightfully have a seat at the table.”

Quite often, it’s Vapour bringing new innovations to market, and word is continually spreading – especially because we’re so human in our approach. And I’m on a mission to keep telling that story, so more people know it!

Complete the sentences:

The best piece of tech ever invented is... any device to play music – I couldn’t be without it.

The next purchase on my (personal) tech wishlist is... probably a kiddy gadget – I’m a mum of two girls under four, so let’s face it, practically every penny goes on them. One thing I’d love someone to invent, is a savvy device that knows what I’m thinking and types it up for me. If someone could please let me know if it already exists, that’d be great!

A tech firm that has really stood out for me in the last 12 months is... Champion Health – a digital employee wellbeing platform.

The biggest misconception in the channel is that... it’s all smoke and mirrors. Let’s have more conversations that everyone can understand – that’s when businesses will rightfully get excited about what tech can do.

By the end of 2022, our tech will have made organisations far more... efficient. Whether that’s in terms of collaborating with colleagues, moving traffic securely around the network, or automating even the simplest of processes to free up the time of their workforce.

Now that face-to-face events are back, next month some of our colleagues will be heading to Birmingham’s NEC for the Channel Live expo. With over 40 presentation and panel discussions centred around business, people, technology, and skills, the event seeks to keep industry professionals abreast of the latest issues impacting the Channel – not least to bolster growth and success through practical business advice.

Joining an expert line-up of industry panellists – including WISE Campaign CEO, Kay Hussain, and Jola’s chief marketing officer, Cherie Howlett – is our very own head of transformation and operations, Carol McGrotty. Taking to the stage in Conference Theatre 3 at 11:15AM on day one (30th March), Carol with delve into the fundamentals of attracting more women into the next generation telecoms workforce.

With a rich career history spanning over 22 years’ experience in the telecoms sector – from provide manager at Virgin Media Business, to her current position at Vapour – Carol is perfectly placed to deliver valuable insight into this topic. Bridging every gap between sales, operations, the technical team, and ongoing support, she is not only the lifeblood of our company, but a true ambassador for women in tech.

And if that wasn’t enough, Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer is also set to deliver a session of his very own the following afternoon. Leveraging over 20 years’ experience in the IT sector – and his strategic entrepreneurial insight – Tim will tap into the opportunities associated with Technology as a Service (TaaS) the market hasn’t yet thought about, for the channel and customers alike. For this must-see discussion, you can find Tim in Conference Theatre 2 from 3:15-3:45PM on 31st March.

“Just because tech is changing, doesn’t mean the role of conferencing has. There’s such a buzz around face-to-face events, and the benefits are unparalleled – from facilitating learning and driving personal and professional development, to fuelling continuous inspiration. There’s just so much creative potential when it comes to in-person engagement,” says Tim.

“And people play a crucial role in spearheading growth. It’s all about sharing your knowledge and experience with others during what is such an exciting time for the industry, to build a stronger market together.”

Whether you’re looking to expand your portfolio and integrate best-of-breed technologies into your organisation, or seeking new partners and business opportunities, Channel Live offers an unrivalled opportunity for tech and telecoms professionals alike.

Sign up is completely free, although attendees are encouraged to pre-register their interest to guarantee a place, here.

If you spot a familiar face, please don’t hesitate to come and say hello. We look forward to seeing you!

At the beginning of 2021, the rebrand and repositioning of Vapour marked a significant turning point in the nearly nine-year journey of our company. Fast forward to 2022, and the investment is still proving to be as crucial as ever in helping us dominate the conversation in a crowded sector.

But for head of transformation, Carol McGrotty, it’s people that play the most crucial role in branding transformation success. In an exclusive webinar hosted by legal professionals, Mills & Reeve, on February 9th, she delved deeper into driving innovation at Vapour through brand and highlighted the importance of employee buy-in…

Although the decision to embark on a digital transformation project can be driven by a whole host of challenges – from rapid growth and emergence into new sectors, to a pivotal change in business perspective – it’s often the people behind the organisation who act as a catalyst for change. Only by undertaking an honest review of a brand’s current positioning and identifying a need for transformation, can real evolution take place – innovating just for innovation’s sake will not only burn a hole in your time and resources, but it will also result in a ‘paint job’ finish that makes no commercial and/or cultural difference.

For Vapour – and any other business – this is no overnight process. Prepare well and give the project the time and attention it deserves – rather than treating it as a sideline objective – and company leaders will soon reap the benefits of streamlined operations, enhanced company culture and improved bottom line. For Vapour’s own strategic roll out, we devised a ‘365-day plan’ which was broken down into three smaller, more manageable stages, to enable us to analyse every facet of the brand’s evolution and maintain momentum from start to finish.

Customers also play a pivotal role in driving transformation, particularly when it comes to such jargon-filled, technical industries. Not only did we want our rebrand to demystify cloud technology and restore that ‘human touch’ we set out with, we also wanted our reputation to extend beyond our ‘toolkit’ to showcase our team, and help attract and retain the best talent. Therefore, gathering insight from our colleagues and customers on wider perceptions of Vapour was an essential part of the process – unveiling a concerted recognition of passion and talent, while addressing an apparent confusion over visual branding and restrictive product names. Putting the customer at the forefront of our ambitions meant we could also preserve the longevity of our digital transformation and bolster our sense of authenticity by giving them a stake in mapping out our future.

But a considered approach to driving innovation doesn’t just involve the rigour of senior level employees and customer insight – every colleague with a passion for the idea is able to tell the story upon launch. Think of them as your business’ most important ambassadors, and encourage them not only to embrace this new chapter, but to openly share their ideas to help spearhead further innovation. To hear more of Carol’s expert advice, and to catch up on commentary from other industry peers, watch the webinar in full, here.

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