Name: Phillip Zissimou

Role: Associate Technical Consultant (PSO NEMEA)

VMware Office Location: Staines London

What inspired you to pursue a career in PSO?

One of the main reasons I chose to pursue a career within the VMware Professional Services Organization, is due to the fact that the PSO delivery team have the opportunity to directly “touch” and deploy the exciting, innovative software products we have here at VMware. I felt that a role within the PSO delivery team would allow me to remain at the forefront of exciting SDDC and Cloud Computing technology advancements, while collaborating with a diverse group of customers to solve a range of real-world issues. The exciting projects that are undertaken by the Professional Services Organization guarantee a dynamic, high-energy and often high-pressure work environment, which I believed would be key to rapidly developing my technical skillset. However, I am also a fairly outgoing person and I enjoy communicating with customers and this is what really inspired me to pursue a customer-facing role within PSO, solving challenging real-world problem

Share with us a general overview of the structure of the VMware Sales Academy training program.

The VMware Sales Academy is a structured training program that takes place across multiple VMware sites around the world, to provide newly hired graduates with an understanding of the company and the services that we offer to our customers. The EMEA VSA is based at the VMware office in Cork, Ireland and this year the academy supported 20 graduates who were preparing for sales, pre-sales and PSO roles. The program is made up of 2 training paths (sales & technical), however both paths cross throughout the program allowing technical graduates to acquire some sales-based training and vice-versa.

The VMware Sales Academy program for the PSO role had a total duration of 10 weeks, which is significantly shorter than the program for both the sales and pre-sales roles (which is approximately 6 months). Towards the start of the program, all graduates shared the same path where we were given an introduction to VMware and the products/services that we provide to our customers. In order for this knowledge to resonate, we were asked to perform whiteboard presentations to demonstrate our understanding of each software product. Not only did these activities allow me to develop a deeper understanding of the VMware product family, the whiteboards also allowed me to build upon my confidence, presentation skills and overall professionalism. As part of the structured training program, we also had several days that were specifically tailored to enhance a range of our soft-skills and basic sales knowledge. This education was provided by an external trainer and some of these sessions were focused around improving: presentation skills, interpersonal skills and negotiation skills.

Several weeks into the program the training paths were divided, allowing the technical track to dive deeper into the technology and the sales track to enhance their marketing skills and gain some hands-on experience with customers. Being part of the technical track, I was able to play around with the software through lab environments, and then later partake in “Install Configure Manage” courses for each of the major products. These week-long courses provided me with a bottom-up overview for each of the technologies, allowing me to build upon the knowledge that I learnt through the high-level whiteboard presentations. Another major part of the VMware sales academy includes all of the great activities, team-building exercises and networking opportunities that you get to participate in along the way – oh and the free “swag” of course.

The VMware Sales Academy (VSA)  this year not only accommodated Sales and SE’s but PSO as well, so the VSA training program had to be diverse to suit each role. PSO graduates not only received technical training but also had the opportunity to benefit from the Sales training program to develop their sales skills and vice versa. The program also focuses on developing our interpersonal skills, public speaking and presentation skills, which prepares fresh graduates to get in the work life easier. Most importantly the program’s structure made sure we had fun each step along the way from team building activities to a lot of networking events where you get to meet senior leadership team across organizational units and geographies within the company.

What has been your biggest takeaway from participating in the training program? Has it helped kick start your career post university? If so, please explain how. 

Throughout my time at the VMware Sales Academy, I have had the opportunity to build-up and develop a foundation level knowledge of the core products that VMware offer, at my own pace and with the freedom to ask as many questions as I can think of along the way. This is something that would have been very difficult to achieve had the training occurred at my home territory, where my manager/mentor would have had limited availability. However, above all else, the VMware Sales Academy program has allowed me to develop my self-confidence and competence, while teaching me that anything is possible at VMware – providing you put the work in. I feel that the program has truly motivated me and as a result I am excited to get back to my home territory in Staines, London to continue my training and eventually start solving some interesting and challenging customer issues.

What should VSA 2018 graduates expect from the program in their first 6 months in VMware?

At the time of writing this blog, I have been part of VMware for around 2 months. Before joining the Sales Academy in July earlier this year I had no idea what to expect. However, in all honesty I can say that my time here has been incredible.

I found that there was a lot to learn during my first few weeks in Cork and some of the content was complex. However, to anyone thinking of joining the VSA I would say that the academy is a relaxed and nurturing environment and it is important to remember that everyone is starting at more or less the same level. Also, being situated at one of VMware’s largest sites globally comes with several huge benefits. During my time at the Cork site I had the opportunity to meet many interesting, unique people and even do some gardening with the EMEA leadership team, as part of VMware’s Service Learning program.

In terms of what to expect for the PSO consultant track after the 10 weeks, I will be returning to my home office in Staines to continue training that is more tailored towards my role as a consultant. This will involve working through another structured 10 week training program and also shadowing various projects in order to gain some real-world customer experience. I was surprised how fast my 10 weeks at the VSA passed and this is most likely down to the amazing people I met along the way who made my time in Ireland so fun and enjoyable. That being said, I am definitely excited to get back to my home office in Staines, London and continue my journey at VMware.

How has coming to work at VMware’s Cork, Ireland office helped prepare you for your role once you move back to London?

Before joining the VMware Sales Academy here in Cork, I was a little unsure of what to expect. I had never visited Ireland before, nor had I been away from home for so long. However, after spending 10 incredible weeks here I am both excited and a little sad to be leaving. While I am extremely anxious to get back to my home office in Staines, London to continue my training and begin shadowing, I am going to miss all of the unique and amazing people I met during my time at VSA. I found it extremely comforting to learn in such a relaxed and nurturing environment, where everyone is willing to help each other grow.

Not only did I gain an understanding of the industry that VMware operates in, but my time in Cork allowed me to network and meet people from the different business units within the organization. This has given me an insight as to how projects are undertaken at VMware, and how a PSO consultant like myself collaborate with various teams to deploy customer solutions. Being part of a community of graduates also meant that we had a lot of fun during our time in Ireland. As well as socializing and taking part in many fun team-building events, we spent several weekends exploring some amazing places like Killarney National Park and the Cliffs of Moher.

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