In our second article featuring the growing number of women working in a wide variety of roles at MLL, we talk to Ellie Coome and Rose Day. Both joined MLL from GTT together so, despite playing very different roles within the tech industry, have very similar career paths to date.
Ellie Coome is MLL’s Sales Operations and Bid Manager. She joined the company just over three and half years ago from GTT, a large multi-national telecom provider.
“I had been at GTT and prior to that, Easynet, Interoute and MDNX, in various Sales and Sales Support roles – ever since graduating in 2011 with an BA in English Language & Communication,” Ellie explained. “Even though I don’t have a traditional technical or engineering background, my ability to communicate has really helped me progress in the telecoms business. Certainly, at MLL when I’m producing content for tenders and articulating the social value we can provide customers, my English degree and creative skills have come into their own.”
She added: “These days in tech there are so many new roles and job titles that never previously existed – that’s good for women as it’s no longer a case of being pigeon-holed into admin or marketing support. There are genuine opportunities for women in telecoms and tech in all departments, especially in progressive and growing companies like MLL.”
Looking back on a her own 11-year career in Tech, Ellie recalls how she ‘stumbled’ into the telecoms industry. “In my last year at university I was thinking hard about what I might want to do. I got a job on reception at MDNX and one of the responsibilities was managing visitor access to our data centres. It got me thinking about what goes on in a data centre and the networks and telecoms tech involved.” Within six months she had been transferred to the company’s sales support and order processing desk.
Ellie’s remit at MLL expanded to encompass the Sales Desk in addition to her Bid Management career earlier this year. “From my experience of order desk and people management at GTT I saw an opportunity to add further value at MLL in an advisory role. The senior management listened to what I had to say and took my recommendations forward. Being a smaller, more agile employer MLL really make you feel you can make a difference to the business overall.”
Ellie currently works in a Bid Management team of three as well as assisting the people and process development of a Sales Desk of six. Having close involvement in two very different sales environments ensures the smooth passage of every customer RFQ and product order all the way through to final delivery. “I think of my role as being similar to that of a conductor in an orchestra! We’re in day to day contact across all departments with colleagues from sales, the solutions architects, project management, customer services, legal and finance. We’re involved in the whole supply chain which also requires us liaising with carriers, running governance and compliance calls.”
Ellie and the bid team are also instrumental in conducting internal post-delivery surveys to see what can be improved on. “For winning bids in the public sector this is increasingly key as it helps ensure we maintain consistently high scores on the overall customer experience index that our customers refer to.”
Her advice to those just heading for university or finishing college: “Don’t rule out a career in tech just because you don’t have a tech or STEM background or qualification. There’s a skills shortage so jump in and be prepared to take a leap of faith and apply. The telecoms sector is pushing apprenticeships so going on to higher education isn’t mandatory – at MLL we are running various earn as you learn schemes, including for example, for trainee field engineers and project managers as well as in sales and IT.”
Rose Day joined MLL just over three years ago, initially as a Network Operations Centre (NOC) Engineer before transferring to the company’s OSS department as Systems Support Administrator at the end of last year.
Rose got into networks and telecoms ‘by accident’ nearly seven years ago. Even though she had done IT at A Level, Rose had gone on to study a totally non-tech degree – in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Then opportunity knocked. “A friend introduced me to a vacancy at Fujitsu as a technical support agent in their call centre, helping to provide first contact diagnosis and resolution to users on a wide range of computer and networking issues.” This included administration work such as logging user emails and existing issues as well as managing things like password resets.
“Along with the night shifts, it was certainly a baptism of fire but a great way of developing my customer service skills and administrative abilities while also learning about tech. I think the organisational discipline required to complete my foundation degree also proved very useful for subsequent meeting of KPI and SLAs in a timely fashion.”
In 2016 Rose moved on to Interoute as a support engineer with key account responsibilities on networking and broadband issues for key accounts. When the company was acquired by GTT her role and responsibilities increased. As a member of their strategic support team, for example, she handled all of TFL’s network support queries including equipment such as traffic signals and CCTV.
At MLL where her role in the NOC entailed day to day responsibility for monitoring customer equipment and analysing data, she further developed her knowledge of Excel as it was a key part of the reporting requirement. This was achieved both in her own time as well as with the support of MLL-based courses and workshops…all to come in very handy when tasked with modifying the way NOC statistics were reported, not to mention for creating internal processes to ensure data integrity across multiple records.
“I love working at MLL in a fast-paced environment with equal opportunities for career development available to everyone. There’s an openness to share knowledge between colleagues and departments. I am pleased to have moved into the OSS department as I was keen to progress from tech support facing roles to systems design and software. I am especially pleased to be involved in supporting and enhancing MLL’s in-house data base management OSS system – this is at the heart of the company’s systems support and relied on to service our customers.”
Rose believes to be in tech or systems-based support roles a graduate will need to gain a solid background knowledge of tech/networks. Similarly, while customer service skills are transferable from other sectors it’s still necessary to learn the tech skills required. “But as I have done this can be done through a mix of online and in-person courses. There’s so much opportunity out there for those with digital skills.”