From juniors to leaders: growing an IT career at Versent
September 22, 2021
Experienced candidates are in short supply in the IT job market, and with Versent’s explosive growth, we found ourselves asking: how do we get the skilled people we need? The answer, we decided, was to nurture the talent we needed within the company rather than just look outside for senior recruits.
Our mentorship culture catalysed in the VMS Associate Program, which began informally in the Versent Managed Services divisions of the company. Originally it was just a collaborative culture of coworkers exchanging ideas and knowledge, but it quickly became evident that something important was happening. Since then, the VMS Associate Program has become a pillar of our training policy, a vital element of our growth and team-building strategies.
I could go on for paragraphs about the ways our mentorship programs fuel innovation, raise team morale and build cohesive team culture, but rather than do that, I’ll let a couple of the people who have participated speak for themselves.
Future IT leaders
Aiden is twenty years old. After he graduated from a computer game course at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, he started looking for his first real job.
“After college, I was looking for a job with problem-solving components. I wasn’t convinced that the game industry was for me, but I loved the logical challenge of software engineering. I got an interview with Versent and was lucky enough to get a role as an associate engineer, working in the support division, helping sort out issues with licenses and broken devices. I also had opportunities to do other side projects. I wrote a script to change how we audit Box file-sharing users and speed up the process. I’ve always enjoyed coding, so it was great to get a chance to show what I could do.”
“I’ve been lucky to work in different parts of the team. I’ve worked on the Security & Identity team, trying out new skills in security and customer UX, and all sorts of stuff. I like the attitude of training people within the Versent company and helping people move up. We get plenty of chances to get new skills and capabilities. We always dive into solving problems as a team.”
James joined Versent in 2018 as an associate engineer. He had three years of experience as a systems engineer but felt frustrated in his former job. James came on board as a new recruit in our Security & Identity division, looking for a new challenge and a pathway to learn new skills.
“I felt that my old job was getting repetitive. I wanted new opportunities and a change of focus. I went into the identity pod when I joined, which was a small team of three people at that time.”
“We evolved our own ad-hoc mentorship system over time as the team grew. I learned by doing – getting out on-site with our clients – in the early days. I shadowed my more experienced teammates for a month or two, learning the ropes, understudying their work.
“I was given a fair bit of responsibility after the first few months. I ‘graduated’ from junior status in 6 months and became a fully-fledged engineer in the team.”
“Client communications was a big learning area for me. I learned a lot from the way the senior people talked to clients and how they responded to client’s emails. Trying not to be too reactive to clients is a big challenge sometimes. They can be very demanding, and I learned to respond to high-pressure situations constructively, rather than getting discouraged.”
“I got moved up to senior engineer status this year. My responsibilities now cover most of our client relationships. There are more than a dozen people in our team now, so there’s a lot of learning going on all the time. We have a more formal learning program for juniors now. New starters can go into that process of mentorship and training. They start shadowing senior team members and gradually get their independence with support.”
“I get asked all kinds of questions by junior team members now. I always make time to answer their questions because I remember how helpful and patient people were with me when I was a junior in the team. Sometimes I’ll make those questions part of a group forum to solve the challenges together on Slack, so everyone can benefit from the problem-solving process.”
Mentorship and leadership opportunities
Versent’s mentorship programs are more than just technical learning pathways. We want to nurture well-rounded skillsets, so the professional services team leaders collaborate with our People & Culture team to cultivate ‘soft skills’ alongside technical training.
Communication and negotiation with customers are every bit as important as coding or engineering skills for our client-facing people. We’ve started to refer to so-called ‘soft skills’ as ‘power skills’ at Versent, because of their ubiquitous utility. Most of our technical service delivery people work hand-in-hand with our customers’ internal IT teams, so leadership and collaborative communication are vital assets.
The power skills components of our team training resources apply to everyone in the business who’s dealing with clients. Our People & Culture team have established resources for our new team members to use in a flexible way that works with their busy schedules. Courses in LinkedIn Learning and intraweb resources form the backbone of a comprehensive communication and negotiation package that equips team members to handle interaction right up to the level of talking to C-suite clients.
The communication training pathways we’ve built at Versent foster presentation skills, giving our team members confidence talking to groups of people, as well as one-on-one. It helps people, who are used to working in a technical mindset, to communicate with non-technical audiences. It’s these sorts of skills that set people up for management and leadership roles, broadening their horizons in terms of what they can achieve in their careers long-term.
At Versent, we’re always looking for motivated, creative people with a strong desire to learn. Aptitude is important in tech professional services roles, but so are communication and leadership. If you’re a team player with a hunger for knowledge, you’ll find more than just a good job at Versent: you’ll benefit from a culture of mentorship and structured learning that will help you achieve your goals.
Looking for a great start to your IT career or your next big opportunity?
Get in touch with Versent and join our fast-growing, talented team.