I chose to study Business Economics at Coventry University immediately after my A levels. I thought that this degree was highly relevant to the world we live in currently and that it would help prepare me for a wide range of career options.
During my second year at university I didn’t have any luck in securing a job in investment banking, ready for when I had my degree so I had to think about some other routes to take.
I wanted a career that would offer me a challenge and reward me for hard work. I knew that I wanted to run my own business one day and wanted to begin my career with something challenging, with an element of control over my earnings and give me great business experience.
After doing some research into what was involved, I decided that I would begin my career in sales.
RM is the UK’s largest IT supplier for education – I currently work within sales and I am the account manager for primary schools within the Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire regions. It is my job to help deliver software, services and systems into the classrooms and IT suites of primary schools within these areas and to help reinvent the classroom.
I started my graduate sales scheme back in August 2008 and over the past nine months have been placed in a variety of different sales roles. These were designed to help me gain the in-depth knowledge of products and sales expertise that are required in the internal account management role.
Challenging and gaining great experience
Working within account management is a challenging experience. Each day throws its different tests, whether it be talking about a complex network product to a head teacher or confronting objections to solutions you are proposing.
Facing up to these day to day challenges has helped me grow and learn at an incredible rate – so much so that I am now responsible for generating a large proportion of business from a certain set of counties in the UK.
Gaining experience in business at a fast pace was my intention by joining sales. Since I have joined the graduate sales programme I have attended and worked at customer consultations, marketing events and even helped to deliver training events that have stemmed from my own research.
Working out the best ways of tackling certain business issues and creating solutions incorporating a variety of different products is what I thrive on. Beginning the day you may be creating a detailed proposal ready to send out in time for a governors meeting and towards the end you could be planning what proactive business campaigns you need to perform.
It is safe to say that account management has its rewards but also has its demands. Accounts need to be managed and the business generated needs to be maintained from these accounts, this can be stressful at times but also extremely exciting once that order has been placed.
I have worked on several projects so far which have been part of my graduate induction. These have ranged from the green agenda in today’s society right through to helping recommend solutions to using new technologies in selling. These projects have given me the opportunity to build on my teamworking and networking skills. They have also given me more purpose and enthusiasm to my work by being actually used to help RM as a business.
Presentations are a common feature within sales and you certainly get the opportunity to deliver your own creations and ideas to important decision makers around the business.
Being in account management you are literally running your own business and this is the beauty about the job. You have to strategically think about what proactive campaign work you should be performing to help address any gaps in your figures as well as presenting this in a structured way to your line managers. This is a great opportunity to face up to with all the expertise, support and knowledge from your colleagues and your training programme in place to help you along the way.
Innovative and entrepreneurial
Working within this part of the business ensures that you are always thinking in an entrepreneurial way and how to improve the ways certain practices are done. This is because there are many different opportunities out there that are available to aim your proactive work towards. Thinking about how new products can benefit the customer in different ways and communicating this in a coherent way is one of the many skills I am learning.
Working for the UK’s leader in ICT for Education means that I am helping to devise strategies for schools using award winning products. Technology has always fascinated me and with such an edge on innovation and working with such interesting products, selling for RM means that I can be enthusiastic in my approach and highly interested in what solutions I can help to provide. I believe that account management is a brilliant way to begin and lift off your career to a flying start because of its rewards, excitement and sheer amount of variation.
Q & A
What aspects of your job do you enjoy most?
I thrive off the fast paced and challenging environment that account management presents me with.
Tell us about the most stressful experience on the job
You have to focus your attention on a lot of different tasks each day, not forgetting that you have a target to hit at the end of each month. One minute you could be performing some proactive sales work to help hit this target but then have to switch and understand an important customer issue.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since graduation?
You learn a lot during university education, but the most valuable business education I have learnt so far is through doing the job. Do not underestimate how much knowledge you can gain from experienced work colleagues around you.