By Rory MacMillin
I started with Akari just over a year ago. Looking to learn more about business and how a start-up is run, I learned a lot about both the organisation and myself in a very short time.
As a business student and a person with dyslexia, I was worried that starting out in such a busy company, with a focus on technology and professional services, that I might get lost, or overwhelmed. I learned quickly that this was not the case. Akari’s focus on Microsoft’s accessible technology has really helped me, teaching me how to utilise things like immersive reader to make it much easier for me to access the information and their inbuilt Teams app ADI meant I was never short of answers to the million and one questions I had. Because of this I have truly loved this experience and have managed to adapt quickly and help members of the team without ever feeling like something is holding me back.
I mostly work in the sales and marketing side, however; I have also had opportunities dip my toe and better understand the technology side of the business. Alongside learning how profit, marketing and the right sales strategy works, I have had experience in how to create apps with power platform and how important the right cloud strategy is for enterprise and corporate businesses.
One of my favourite experiences was helping build the design for one of the pages on Akari’s website, as this is sometimes the first thing a future customer sees of ours, I knew how important it was and was thrilled to be part of that team getting our message out to the world. At Akari, no two days are ever the same and I am continuously learning something new. With marketing, I have learned how to manage social media and gained practical experience in marketing which is one of my favourite subjects to learn about. With sales, I got to assist with several of our customer case studies. This was actually one of the first jobs I was ever given, and I would recommend organisations with new starts to level this type of challenge. As I was starting the case study from scratch it meant I had to go learn about the customer, the technology we assisted with and how it helped their organisation. This was a steep learning curve, but it allowed me to learn quickly whilst also providing a service to my team and helps me properly represent the organisation and their values with the people I meet, and with tech I am amazed to see how quickly everything is changing and how organisations can use these changes to adapt to external influences such as COVID. I find working within IT fun and exciting as there is always something new to do each week.
With my qualification being in business, it is fascinating to learn hands on, how a business truly operates and seeing theory in practice. It has challenged me and grown my interest in the subject and has made me think about working within the technology industry when I graduate.
When I first started working in this sector, I did not have a lot of confidence in my ability for this role. However, working within IT has done wonders for me as it has made me confident and has further increased my social skills by meeting customers and doing customer calls, which has pushed me out of comfort zone but has made me more prepared for this or any career and has also given me experience and knowledge that most people at my age don’t have, making me more employable as I have learned so many skills on the job.
One of my biggest take aways from this year is how much technology can truly help people. It’s more than just software, hardware and services. As someone with dyslexia I used to struggle with writing and grammar, but then I learned about different Microsoft technologies that can help me with this, and with the combination of being set a different task each week this has helped me develop new ways of working and improved my quality of work. Being part of this industry has made me passionate towards technology and the true accessibility it brings and has persuaded me to continue working in this field making me feel more prepared for career in the future.
Working for a start-up and a rapidly scaling company has been exciting and allowed me to accelerate my learning pace. I have watched Akari grow from a handful of employees to a large sales and technology team and have been allowed to input in so many ways. I was able to learn and take charge of Salesforce admin. I had never paid much attention to CRM systems but quickly realised how vital they are; It is not just a tool for sales, it helps us know as an organisation what is coming up. What new opportunities are coming, what projects are working well, where we need extra resource and how well people are utilised, this and tools like Power BI allow organisations access to so much data that can help them with strategy, sales and so much more. Another tool I have loved learning about is LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The former is a great idea, we now work in a world where very few people have a job for life. We move and grow as our career develops, but this gives us a way to always stay connected to the people we meet with each role. It allows us to keep up with our peers, companies and industries that interest us and to search for potential consumers such as companies that we could target our products and services to.
Although I have loved sales and marketing one of my favourite tasks was to design a Power App with the tech team, at first, I thought it would be too complicated for me to do it, but actually I loved designing the app since it was fairly straightforward to build and I loved customising it. It showed me what Microsoft mean by Citizen developers and awakened an interest in me to learn more.
I would personally recommend this industry to anyone as throughout this year I have loved each assignment that I have been set. I have gained a breath of experience and learned lots about different technologies and sales aspects, this has helped me improve overall as I have gained confidence and social skills alongside practical experience. The reason I recommend coming into the industry as a young person, is that you do something new each week which means that you never get bored and there is always an opportunity to learn more and gain experience for a future career. Also, the technology industry is evolving, and the software is too letting you learn as it evolves. You may be surprised about how interesting the technology industry really is and the skills that you will gain to help you gain more experience for a career in any industry. Even if you are worried about technology being too difficult or complicated to understand then I would still give it a shot as something you may think is difficult could be straight forward and enjoyable.
It is learning live experience in an industry that no matter which road your career path takes, you will always find a practical application as Technology is in every part of our lives now, and its definitely a lot of fun!