Grade 2 Consultant, Laura Bowie, speaks to Talent Aquisition Lead, Craig McGeough, about her impressive rise within Perfect Image, the importance of women in tech, and how to climb the IT career ladder.

What are your career goals? I imagine most of us have them. Currently across the UK I imagine the vast majority of the IT industry will be working toward their next certification, project or promotion. Throughout my years in technical recruitment I have spoken to thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people about their career; where it is now, where it could go, and what would need to be done to get there. Unfortunately for many the answer was that they couldn’t progress within their current company to the level they wanted, or at the pace they wanted, and had no choice but to move on.

At Perfect Image, we do things differently. One such example of this is our Grade 2 Consultant, Laura Bowie. I sat down with her to discuss the route she’d taken into, and upwards within, Perfect Image. Here’s what she had to say…

Laura Bowie

What was your first role in IT?

I was working at Sitel as an outsourced Technical Support Agent for BT Communicator (the precursor to BT Talk or Voice). First, I dealt with customer support calls, and then I moved up to supporting anything you could plug into a computer as part of the BT Home IT Service, dealing with call-backs and complaints. We supported everything from cleaning virus-ridden PCs, to setting up broadband routers, printers and new PCs.

You joined Perfect Image in April 2010 in a 2nd Line Application Support role. What drew you to Perfect Image?

I was working for a large Financial Software house doing Accounts Technical Support in what felt very much like a call centre environment. I was approached by Perfect Image who were looking for people with excellent customer service, technical skills and ideally some accounts knowledge. I felt the environment was what I was looking for, so I decided to go for it and apply.

You have had an impressive rise up the ladder, what roles have you had in your time so far at Perfect Image?

I was 2nd Line Application Support from April 2010 until February 2014, before being promoted to ERP Consultant Grade 1. That role was much more customer facing, implementing technology and travelling to client sites across the UK. I have since been promoted to Grade 2 Consultant and I’m currently working toward achieving my Grade 3 promotion.

What does your role involve?

As an ERP Consultant, I deal with the whole process of pre-sales. That includes creating proposals and settings budgets, delivering demos and assisting our Business Development Managers with the more technical aspects of pre-sales. As a technical consultant, I also deliver work proposed to the client, which includes implementing technology, upgrading software, creating and maintaining reports and Word templates, implementing new modules, training, customisation work. I also assist with support as a third-line resource, to maintain the relationships which are formed with customers at the early stages pre-implementation through to post-delivery.

What is the most enjoyable part of your role?

The parts I love most are meeting new people, travelling, building rapport with clients to ensure trust and customer satisfaction, and a continued relationship in partnership with Perfect Image.

The biggest challenge in your role?

Managing timescales and client expectations. Ultimately, making sure the work is delivered to the highest standard.

Whilst Perfect Image is trying to put a focus on getting more women into the IT industry, it is often still seen as unbalanced – what would say to any women thinking about a career in IT?

I would recommend it, as it is a very rewarding job. There are so few women in the industry that it’s nice to surprise people and show that us women can be just as technical as guys. It will help change people’s perceptions that the IT industry is just for men…

What are you most looking forward to this year at Perfect Image?

Getting my Grade 3 ERP Consultant promotion is my goal for the immediate future but we are always taking on new challenges.

Final Words from Craig

Thanks to Laura for chatting with me about where her career started and the route that has taken her into the world of consultancy, working with niche technology and delivering projects across the UK.

She raised some excellent, pertinent points – particularly on the importance of relationship building, customer service, and strong organisational skills alongside the obvious technical requirements demanded by the industry. She also recognises that whilst women are becoming more prevalent within the IT industry, more women are needed within technical roles in order to further change the current status quo.

Laura is a great example of the Perfect Image approach which is to develop our staff. We believe there should always be a next step to work towards in order to keep staff motivated, happy and continually learning. Our track record of continually developing staff is one we are incredibly proud of. That could be staff working in highly technical senior roles working toward the next rung of the career ladder, or those who possess strong “soft skills” such as customer service, organisational skills and a clear strength in communicating with others, taking their first steps into the IT world.

Next Steps

If you are currently thinking about what to do next but can’t decide where to go, here are some next steps you could take:

Looking for your first foray into IT, or currently in a technical role and you want to find out more about how we ensure staff like Laura continually progress? Find out more about careers at Perfect Image and whether your next step could be with us: www.perfect-image.co.uk/about/careers

Do you have any questions about how Perfect Image can help you to progress your IT career? You can drop me an email at craig.mcgeough@perfect-image.co.uk or give me a call on 0191 238 0111 and we can discuss your options.