Graduate Insight: Interview with Kate Alexander, Junior Account Manager
Kate joined Pythagoras a year ago as a Business Development Executive.
What did you study at University, and where?
I studied Philosophy, at both undergraduate and Masters level, at Reading University.
Following graduation, how did you begin searching for work and did you know what you wanted to do?
Like so many other Graduates, I had no idea what I wanted to do; I got to the end of my Masters and panicked a bit to be honest, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with my degree. At this point I had never considered a career in technology or sales but it was through a friend that I heard about Pythagoras and a Business Development Executive (BDE) role that had recently become available.
Why did you apply for a role at Pythagoras?
I decided to apply for the BDE role at Pythagoras as I was interested in the prospect of a varied role that incorporated both sales and marketing, and I had some light sales experience through a couple of part-time jobs I took while studying. I read the job description on the careers page of the Pythagoras website, and emailed a copy of my CV across to HR. When I heard back I was in the final week of University, and while I still wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, I got invited to interview, which I used as a good opportunity to hear more about the role and decide from there.
What was the interview process like?
I came for an interview the day after I handed in my final year thesis, so I was excited to get on with the next stage of my life and begin my career. I was interviewed by Lee Wise, Marketing Manager at Pythagoras and another colleague I would be working with (should I be fortunate enough to get the role). Luckily, I got on well with them both immediately, and I could tell Pythagoras would be a friendly and supportive working environment. I could also see that the BDE role would be varied and give me responsibility straight away; the overlap of sales and marketing was also ideal.
During interview, I got the opportunity to ask lots of questions about the role and Pythagoras generally, and I knew quickly that I would be a good fit, both for the role and within the company. I was also encouraged by how much Pythagoras were growing as a company, and I liked the association and working prospects with Microsoft. I must have made a good impression because I got the job later that day!
Describe your first year at Pythagoras
I began in October 2015 and spent the first few weeks learning my way around the Microsoft technology stack and internal company processes. Right from the beginning I was given responsibility to manage several guest lists for some upcoming events, this included inviting attendees; managing all communications with attendees leading up to and following the events; and attending the events in person. Over the next few months my confidence on the phone grew, as well as learning to nurture a prospective customer into a qualified lead, and ready to purchase a technology solution. I also developed strong relationships with the sales team and would frequently attend meetings with the Business Development Managers that I had booked on their behalf; this gave me further insight to what a career in sales would look like and I quickly realised I wanted to pursue this as a path.
How has Pythagoras supported your development?
Throughout my time as a BDE, I received lots of support from both the marketing and sales teams, and my journey into sales was fully supported by the business. Following my initial interest in pursuing sales, I was given every opportunity to attend meetings and training with the sales team, which involved presentation training and role plays such as objection handling. I also used the annual Pythagoras training allowance which is available to every member of staff, to attend a week-long residential Sales Fundamentals Course in Manchester; this was a great experience which boosted my confidence and taught me a lot about sales techniques. It also demonstrated the investment Pythagoras were willing to invest into my career.
After nine months of starting at Pythagoras, I was offered the opportunity to join the sales team as a junior Account Manager; I am very excited about this move and next step in my career. I have been really surprised at how quickly I have progressed, but it demonstrates Pythagoras’ willingness to progress employees if they show the readiness and enthusiasm to progress and develop.
What would your advice be to other graduates thinking about a career in technology?
My advice to anyone looking for a career in sales, would be to consider technology. It’s not always an obvious industry to enter as it is extremely fast paced and no two days are the same, but it can be extremely rewarding.
What’s your experience of being a woman in the technology industry?
I have always imagined careers in technology to be male dominated, and they are, but I have been extremely pleased to witness that Pythagoras has such a positive and encouraging attitude to women in technology. While the ratio of men to women still goes in favour of men, female employees make up just under 30% of the Pythagoras workforce. For someone still fairly new in her career, it’s been inspirational to see so many women in leadership roles, both here and at Microsoft. As a woman, I also feel that my opinions and ideas are respected and taken seriously here at Pythagoras as much as my male colleagues.
I would strongly encourage anyone who has considered a career in sales and/or marketing to apply for a role at Pythagoras, because you never know where it could lead.
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