Subscribe to Dynamics Matters:
MICHAEL LONNON: Welcome to you our lovely listeners to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.
Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.
I’m Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by a guest who at first gave some incompatible answers, but we got past that to have a great chat, and I gained the insight of someone fairly new to the world of Microsoft and the IT industry. And it’s for this reason I wanted to collar Alliance Marketing Manager Sarah Barratt to gain her unique perspective into what makes for a winning partnership.
And for those of you who have joined a new company during lock down, Sarah also has some great advice for how you can quickly succeed too.
So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
MICHAEL LONNON: Dog or Cat?
SARAH BARRATT: Cat and dog.
MICHAEL LONNON: No, one or the other
SARAH BARRATT: In different environments. Indoor cat, outdoor dog. I live on a farm.
MICHAEL LONNON: Chinese food or Mexican?
SARAH BARRATT: Chinese
MICHAEL LONNON: Okay, all right. Well, we’ll talk about this.
SARAH BARRATT: Are we compatible?
MICHAEL LONNON: We will talk about this offline because I’m not happy so far. Sun or snow?
SARAH BARRATT: Sun.
MICHAEL LONNON: Great. Got you there. IT or Life Sciences?
SARAH BARRATT: That’s like daddy or chips.
MICHAEL LONNON: You have to choose.
SARAH BARRATT: IT.
MICHAEL LONNON: IT, very well put. So, you’re how many weeks in now? Got to be two months in now?
SARAH BARRATT: Three, yeah two and a half nearly three.
MICHAEL LONNON: And do you feel like you’re getting a lay of the land now?
SARAH BARRATT: Yeah, I think so. It’s a very fast paced environment, so I think I’m keeping up so far. I’m definitely exploring new relationships with new people, which is always great and interesting. I think I’m just beginning to start to settle into the role.
MICHAEL LONNON: So it’s very much about building a partnership, would you say?
SARAH BARRATT: Yes.
MICHAEL LONNON: Which is quite different to your background, isn’t it? Because you’re, as I pose the questions, your background is life sciences, isn’t it? And what would you say, in terms of the use of technology, or the environment of technology that you now find yourself in, what’s the biggest difference between how you worked in the life sciences environment and how you work now at the front of IT? So, what’s the biggest difference?
SARAH BARRATT: I think, to start off with the biggest similarity is sort of the focus on research, development and innovation. So whether you’re in life sciences, or whether you’re in the IT industry, there is this big focus, and push on innovation and research. So, that could be in the life sciences, that could be research into new, better health care, new cancer drugs, here it’s about innovation into digital transformation. So there are there are a lot of similarities and they’re both at the forefront of research. I think the biggest difference is working for a technology company. Internally, the technology is on par with external technology environment, whereas in the life sciences, it’s very, very limited. So it’s very reactive in terms of technology. And I think that that’s actually one of the things that interested me in this role, is the challenges that I experienced in my previous role. So, technology infrastructure, in the life sciences industry that I’ve been a part of has traditionally been poor, no CRM systems, no teams or SharePoint, anything like that.
MICHAEL LONNON: How do you manage in that kind of environment? Are you finding things more efficient, you’re faster, you’re able to connect more dots in where you are now, is that kind of the change in its use of technology will benefit of use?
SARAH BARRATT: So, I think that, in my previous roles that I’ve had, I’ve implemented systems to enable my job to work. I’ve had experience in implementing CRM systems and I can see the pain and the challenges that these companies go through, and how once those systems and solutions have been implemented, the benefits that they give these kinds of companies, they add so much value to the processes in these companies, that it is so beneficial to see those transformations taking place. And it’s great to be a part of an organisation now that is instrumental in producing these solutions and developing these transformations.
MICHAEL LONNON: It’s quite bizarre being on the forefront because I have come from or been in a finance environment and to see it from that side of things and not being dismissive, but the use of technology is quite limited in comparison to kind of the front end, you’re seeing it all come through. You’re a lock-down new bee, for what of a better phrase aren’t you?
SARAH BARRATT: Yes.
MICHAEL LONNON: And what advice would you give, I have been in a similar position and I found it quite challenging, if I’m being honest. But what would you say? What advice would you give to anyone coming into a new role when it’s in this type of environment?
SARAH BARRATT: I think for anybody coming into an environment, within a lock-down, is quite challenging to start a new job when you are only meeting people online, and not face to face it is difficult. I think that in terms of joining a new role, especially at this time, you need to be confident that you can work the technology that you’re using. So, I’ve had a year of using nothing but Microsoft Teams. I think that it’s always good to make sure that you know how to use that technology, I think, coming into this environment, like I say from lockdown, you need to do your research, make sure you’re aware of the company and what they do, and the industry that you’re working in, because you don’t get those conversations that you may have in the office when you’re settling in. You go straight into those calls about what you’re going to achieve. So, you just need to make sure that you’ve done your research because the Microsoft landscape is so vast as well. I’d also say you need to come in with an open mind, things are constantly changing, whether that’s to do with lock-down, or whether that’s to do with the technology. You need to make sure that you are adaptable. Things change so fast. I think you need to be confident in the skills that you have are transferable into this particular industry that you’re going into and be confident that you know, what you’re working on is underpinned by your previous experience, whether that’s in a different industry or not, and definitely learn your acronyms. I think there’s a lot of acronyms within the IT sector that you need to print off and stick on a wall and make sure that you know what you’re talking about.
MICHAEL LONNON: Yeah, just one or two
SARAH BARRATT: Because most of your calls will involve that.
MICHAEL LONNON: I’d echo that actually, because I’ve been working with Microsoft for quite a while that was the hardest learning curve for me was understanding what these acronyms meant and what they would lead me onto. You’d be in meetings and people would be throwing these acronyms out and you’re thinking in the back of your head? Do I tell them? Or do I ask them what this means? Because I really haven’t got a clue out of the ten that I know.
SARAH BARRATT: I’m sure there’s a dictionary about somewhere, but if not, I’m probably going to create one.
MICHAEL LONNON: I mean, again, from the kind of outside in perspective, how is a company like Microsoft viewed? When you work in your life sciences, for example, how does a company like software get looked at.
SARAH BARRATT: Microsoft is s recognised as being one of the global biggest company they’re one of the US Top Five, technology companies. So, I think that everybody, millions of people know about their solutions, and know that they will help solve their business needs. So, I think they are viewed as a very successful company at the forefront of technology. I also think, on the flip side, that they can be viewed, it’s quite scary how big they are. But I think everybody knows about the solutions and knows that they may fit their business needs, but actually they don’t know how to implement them or don’t even know where to start. And I think that was part of the problem with the life sciences sector, traditionally they haven’t been up to speed with the IT infrastructure because maybe they didn’t know where to focus on. And I think what’s really interesting and coming into this role as sort of cemented that for me is how powerful the partner network is. So, in my previous role we implemented systems with a partner, and the benefits that you get from utilising a partner, the training that they provide the consultancy, the full end to end process is invaluable. So, just by leveraging that Partner Network, it’s enabling it to be a less daunting task for those kinds of companies, because there’s always a partner out there that will be suitable for the size of your business, the needs, your requirements. I think internally as well, what I’ve experienced is, is the power of the partner network. So, you actually become part of a community, there’s training, there’s learning and development opportunities, there’s chances to connect with other partners. It’s powerful externally, and it’s also very powerful internally.
MICHAEL LONNON: Many thanks to Sarah for some great practical insight. And also for the valuable advice she gave for anyone starting a job in lock-down.
We got Sarah’s first-hand account of the challenges of implementing big systems, as she recounts her time from her previous roles.
And we learnt that the relationship between companies like HSO and Microsoft is very much built on collaboration through people, and it’s only through this that projects in the real-world, as Sarah could attest, can succeed. And as Steve Job highlighted when he said: “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them”
Stay tuned for more fantastic content in the Dynamics Matters podcast series as we delve into what’s new in Microsoft, we look at what it takes to create an agile business, and why your analytics is probably lying to you. Until then, take care of yourselves.