What if you could get to know the Hiring Managers at VMware before you come onsite for an interview? Well now you can with our new Meet the Hiring Manager series. From career journeys to the characteristics that they look for in candidates, we want you to hear from the people who help bring teams together at VMware – Hiring Managers. To kick off the series, we’d like to introduce you to Horst Mundt and Ewa Mazurek, two Professional Services organization Managers from Germany and Poland.
Horst Mundt, Germany
Ewa Mazurek, Poland
Tell us about your career to date and your current role at VMware?
Horst: I joined VMware’s Professional Services organization (PSO) as a Technical Account Manager (TAM) in 2008. In that role, I worked with Public and Enterprise customers. I learned a lot about how customers use VMware technology and why they use it that way. After four years, I had the opportunity to move into a TAM management role. I did that for a little more than a year and then moved into a Consulting Manager role because I felt that I could have a bigger impact. Now I manage the Consulting organization for DACH (Deutschland, Austria & Switzerland) and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining VMware, I worked in Technical Consulting, Development, Architecture and Project Management roles for more than 10 years. I hold a university degree in Mathematics with a focus in Computer Science.
Ewa: I’ve been working in the Professional Services organization at VMware for six years now, and during this time I’ve had the pleasure to hold several roles within the organization. I used to deliver engagements and projects, took care of profitability and success, and sold services in Eastern Europe. I also had an opportunity to manage a team of Technical Account Managers and Consultants. From there, I changed my focus to the German market and took on the leadership of one of the biggest projects that we had had at that time in Central Europe (CEMEA). Recently, I moved to a management position, where I take care of a team of Consultants and Architects who are working in Germany.
Before my adventure with VMware started, I held several technical, including Support Engineer, Consultant and Architect, as well as Project Management and Business Development positions. I graduated from a technical university where I earned my undergraduate diploma in Computer Science. Then I strengthened my business acumen by completing an executive MBA program.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in technology?
Ewa: I have always had a passion for science and mathematics. Having been surrounded by similar souls and being able to easily develop in the science and mathematics subjects, I spent a lot of time doing what I liked , doing it with ease, never getting bored, and having a lot of fun.
At some point, I had to focus my area of interests so I chose computer science. To some extent, you can work on a bit of everything when you’re in an IT-focused role. I have worked for many customers across industries, which has given me a broad understanding of the challenges that organisations face and how they can be addressed with technology. At the same time, every day I appreciate the crowd of beautiful minds that I work with.
Horst: I also always had a strong interest in science. Actually, as a kid I was much more interested in chemistry, but when I was thirteen or fourteen computers became generally affordable. I had a Sinclair ZX81 and I was totally fascinated by how I could make it do all kind of different things (as long as they fit into 16 KB of RAM). Also, the “try & error” way of learning how to program was much less smelly than it was in chemistry. I quickly figured out that Software-Defined was the way to go for me. Later at University, I had the lucky opportunity to work as a System Administrator for two university institutes. That role gave me unlimited Internet access in the mid-90s, which was mind blowing After that role, it was impossible for me to imagine working in a different field.
Tell us about your team.
Horst: The team currently consists of forty Consultants and Architects who are focusing on VMware’s SDDC products (vSphere, vSAN, vRealize). Most team members are based in Germany, but three are in Switzerland and two are in Poland. They work and perform technology miracles for VMware’s largest and most strategic customers on a daily basis. I could not imagine a better team to work with.
What customers do you and your team support?
Ewa: We work with mid- to large-sized customers from all vertical markets. This brings a variety of expertise to the team as each market requires a specific kind of knowledge. Sometimes these are legal limitations, high security demands and regulations, or the volume of data that needs to be processed. The diversity of work creates the perfect environment for people to professionally development.
What kind of projects do you and your team deliver?
Horst: It can be anything from a vSphere health check to a multi-year transformation project delivered by a dedicated team of project managers, architects, consultants and partners. A major portion of our revenue comes from the bigger projects, so a big part of the team is engaged with that work.
Do people get bored if they work on the same project for a year or more?
Horst: We usually find that these projects are among the most exciting ones to work on and that people are quite happy to stay on them for an extended period of time. It gives them the opportunity to work with the latest and greatest VMware products; they’re sometimes the first ones to implement them in a customer environment. This is one reason why people want to be on the team. We’re always looking for opportunities to rotate team members between projects and to work on different, short-term engagements from time to time. This could be a few days of knowledge transfer on a specific topic for a different customer, a short proof of concept delivered together with our Pre-sales organization, or a short “firefighting” engagement if a customer runs into a bigger issue and needs help from us. These engagements are arranged in such a way that they do not impact the team members main projects with the customers that they’re supporting. As with probably any software vendor’s Professional Services organization, boredom is usually in short supply.
What kind of challenges would a consultant on your team be faced with?
Ewa: “Change is the only constant” sounds like a cliché, but I must admit that nowadays, especially in technological fields, where IT is a business value creator, this is very much true. In consequence, each and every day our consultants have to not only deliver what was requested, but also keep their eyes wide open to new needs and opportunities. They have to be flexible enough to adopt to new products, solutions and demands on the market quickly. It’s a never-ending story of constantly developing your skills, being eager to learn and adopting to changing requirements. Fortunately, we mostly hire techies who enjoy being in this demanding position and who closely follow or even outdistance the cutting-edge technology available on the market. Some consultants find it very exciting and motivating to travel and visit with customers located in cities across central Europe. For others, it may be overwhelming to travel that often, and the opportunity to sightsee, as well as the senator status in an airlines’ frequent traveler program may not be rewarding enough for them to make up for the time away from home.
How do you as managers interact with your teams?
Horst: It is very important for us to be in touch with the team members on a regular basis. Since the team is distributed across the region, we don’t usually have the opportunity to walk up to somebody’s desk and say hello. We have set ourselves a baseline of having a one-on-one call with every direct report at least every two weeks, and weekly for the first months after somebody joins. We try to meet everyone at least once a quarter face-to-face. This could be in conjunction with a customer visit or interviews – sometimes I travel to Zürich or Dresden (where we have a large customer) just to meet with the team.
We also have a bi-weekly call for the whole team where we share organizational or business updates; occasionally team members present a project that they are working on too. It’s almost impossible to find a slot that works for everyone, so we record the calls and people can watch the recording when they have time. And of course, we have phone, email, and instant messaging for ad-hoc communication.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their career in IT?
Ewa: Try to start as an intern or a new graduate at one of the leading-edge IT companies. Working in a fast-developing company that offers the best products and solutions in the market provides huge opportunities for your career development. VMware has a dedicated program for new graduates . The program is a series of general IT and on-the-job trainings followed by several weeks of working alongside experienced employees so that you can gain practical knowledge and work confidently on your own.
Horst: My advice would be to focus on a certain topic that is not too broad because it will allow you to become really good at it in a relatively short amount of time. This technical expertise will give you a feeling of security, which I believe is important to have when you are just starting your career. You can broaden your technology portfolio later – actually it will come automatically since technology is changing all the time. The graduate program , like Ewa described above, is a great way to build up the initial knowledge you need in order to successfully start your career.
What is your usual interview process for roles within the team?
Ewa: The first step for us is always a 1:1 interview with the candidate. This can be done face-to-face or via phone. During this phase, we want to understand the candidate’s professional profile and experience. This interview is done by one of the PSO managers. The next step is usually a technical screening, which is focused on determining the skills that the candidate already has and how fast he or she can be ready to work alone with the customer. The last part is a face-to-face meeting where we decide if we are meant to be a great team together.
How do you onboard new team members; what training do they get?
Horst: There is a new hire orientation (we call it New Employee Experience (NEE)) at our Munich office during the first two working days of every month. New team members get their equipment (mobile phone, laptop, etc.) and a first introduction to the various departments within VMware. NEE is followed up with a role-specific online training plan called START Online, which covers technical and business conduct guidelines. Once this is complete, people get invited to START Live, which is a multi-day role-specific enablement event in our Staines, UK office. Complementary to NEE and START, we agree on a personal onboarding plan with the new team member. This personalized onboarding plan generally consists of product training, ride alongs, (where you shadow a senior colleague on a customer engagement) and lab time. It can also include getting updated certifications or spending time with the Centre of Excellence team in Sofia. We also assign an experienced team member as a mentor to help the new hire get up to speed quickly.
What is the most important thing you are looking for in a candidate?
Ewa: I strongly believe that communication is a key to success. I’m looking for people who can talk in a clear and structured way about their motivations, ambitions, development plans, and previous experience. I’m looking at the potential and enthusiasm of the candidate, as well as at their current level of expertise in certain technical areas. When I see a drive to learn, I’m happy to arrange additional trainings for the candidate. A good understanding of IT in general is necessary and knowledge of VMware technology is an advantage.
Horst: The motivation to constantly learn new things and to apply what you have learned are equally important. The speed at which VMware’s products, and technology in general, are evolving can be pretty overwhelming. On the one hand you need to stay up to date and on the other hand it is our job to bring value to our customers by getting our solutions up and running, so you can’t just try out new stuff in the lab all day. Of course, we as managers provide guidance on how to do this successfully with quarterly training plans that ensure a consistent level of knowledge across the team and with individual development plans. Recently, we had a two-day team enablement event where we all met face-to-face to share knowledge and to learn about knew technologies. It was impressive to see how even people who joined the team less than half a year ago have put their learnings to use.
What should a candidate do if they are interested in a PSO job but they’re not sure if they meet 100% of the requirements in the job description?
Ewa: A job description is a baseline for candidates to understand the profiles of people we’re looking for and to give them a first impression of whether they want to work in our organization. If the candidate presents qualities which are beyond our expectations, we can do a concession on some requirements listed in a job description. My advice for candidates who meet the most crucial requirements and feel that they want to be a part of our team is to apply. We usually have more open positions across the business, so we try to look at the candidates in an open way in order not to lose somebody who may be a better fit for a team outside of Professional Services.
Interested in joining VMware’s Professional Services organization and working for leaders like Ewa & Horst? Take a look at our open roles here and apply today!
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