Carlene Jackson, MBA
CEO of Cloud9 Insight Ltd
Founded in 2010, to support launch of CRM Online by Microsoft into the UK market early in 2011.
Cloud9 Insight have been an early adopter of apprenticeship programmes in the technology industry, with our first Apprentice David who won the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award in 2012. As a Microsoft partner, our business prides itself on delivering excellent customer service, ethical practices and long term support to name a few. We find this ethos a crucial aspect of not only business but values we should embrace as individuals too. Confidently, I can say that working with enthusiastic and passionate apprentices has seen Cloud9 flourish into a collaborative, innovative and respectable team.
In fact, four of our current employees started as apprentices and the hands- on work experience they gained have made them completely competent team members. One notable success has been a young lady whom we took on as a confident 19 year old through QA as a Business Administration Apprentice. At Cloud9 we gave her the opportunity to learn about many different areas of the business including Support, accounts, marketing and even project management. She is very customer focused and nothing phases her. She is also an exceptional strategic thinker with a natural commercial brain which is a unique trait that I’ve struggled to find even amongst experienced colleagues I have worked with over the years. I wanted to find a way to challenge her and build on her natural talents for management and critical thinking, so when she completed her Apprenticeship training, I offered to sponsor her Open University MBA course. This determined young protégé is doing exceptionally well, scoring distinction in all her exams! She now manages a team of colleagues, including some younger apprentices as well as much older (all male) senior consultants. She has already passed her Dynamics 365 technical exams, her ClickDimensions exam and will be taking her Prince 2 Project Management exams and training in the coming weeks (she is as certified as any consultant). There really is no limit to what she can achieve just by giving her a chance to try new challenges and continuous coaching to harness her natural strengths and drive her work ethic. Recently, we have taken on other apprentices in marketing and support, so we are excited to support them in transforming into the same confident employees that other apprentices have become.
In the past, I have benefited from lots of training, in sales and leadership to NLP and even acting and improvised comedy training! From these experiences, I have learnt how body language, for instance, can affect the energies (negative or positive) we convey to others and how this can improve our self- awareness. It is evident that women often adopt different body language to men, for example, women often tilt their head down in a slightly submissive way when speaking which can be endearing and less threatening but it gives power to those communicated with. I like to offer advice to my apprentices on self-presentation and to be mindful of their verbal and non-verbal communication so they can always be the best version of themselves.
Considering the issue of gender inequality in society, I admire my daughter’s school head master (Mr Blond of Roedean all-girls school) who identifies a general pattern in girls accepting their achievement and losses without challenge or improvement, whereas boys are often more competitive and if given a B grade push for the A grade, rather than just accept their lot. Of course what he is saying is no one should be complacent and everyone should challenge themselves and work hard. This same mentality can be applied to pay which may account for the salary inequality we find in our society. Rather than blame their employer or politics and never make a change, I would say every individual should know their value and worth and demand it.
Personally, I feel I have succeed by embracing diversity (I am Irish so don’t always follow the cultural norms of Britishness), but also from surrounding myself with people with enthusiasm. Young people have this enthusiasm and inspiration in abundance which can be channelled into becoming successful apprentices and interesting individuals.
Cloud9 are a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner supporting the growth of SMB through implementation, support and training of Microsoft Cloud Technologies including Dynamics365 and Office365. We will continue to work with apprentice providers to reach out to individuals looking to start their career with the challenging and exciting apprenticeship scheme with offer at Cloud 9.