Developing talent within the business
Finding a career that you love is something that many of us dream about growing up. You spend enough time at work so it’s important that you do something you enjoy, right?
But what actually makes a great job? Is it about joining a good team, career development, competitive pay, or finding the right work-life balance?
In this blog, we’ll be chatting with three members of the A2Z Cloud team as they reflect on their experiences and careers so far.
Richard Branson once famously said, “clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” This is something that the team at A2Z Cloud feels very strongly about.
A small business that packs a big punch
“I’ve always believed that people should come first in business”, explains Lucy Beck, CEO of A2Z Cloud. “Yes, I expect my team to work hard and contribute to growing the business, but I want to support them too”, she says.
The business has grown considerably since its launch in 2016 – with a team of just five. A2Z Cloud now has a team of nearly 30, working with many prestigious, multinational clients across the world. But the leadership team hasn’t lost sight of the importance of looking after their people.
That was certainly an appeal for Chief Technology Officer Dash Bunyan. Dash joined A2Z Cloud eight years ago as a business engineer straight from the University of Plymouth – where he completed a degree in computer science.
“What appealed was the opportunity to work for a business where you could have a real impact from day one”, says Dash.
He explains that A2Z Cloud focuses mainly on customising configured systems and developing new integrations for clients rather than building systems from scratch.
People are often surprised when I tell them that my job is really creative“, says Dash. “If a client needs a custom product, I have to think creatively about how we can deliver that in an efficient and affordable way.
“In my time here, I’ve worked on projects for clients in a huge range of industries. No two days are the same and that’s what keeps it interesting for me.
“A2Z Cloud is a great place to grow your skills. Lucy, who runs the business, believes in nurturing her team members and supporting them to progress”, adds Dash.
This is borne out by Dash’s own development – progressing from an in-house developer to a member of the senior leadership team as the Chief Technology Officer.
Inspiring the next generation of tech pioneers
Inspiring young people to follow careers in tech is very important to A2Z Cloud. Nearly half the team are under the age of 30. There is considerable support and mentoring for young recruits to help them learn the ropes alongside more experienced team members.
For the past few years, A2Z Cloud has run a successful university placement programme for third-year students and some of the students have gone on to work for A2Z Cloud as graduates.
But, A2Z Cloud welcomes recruits from many non-traditional educational backgrounds – believing that a lack of a university education shouldn’t hold you back if you have the right skills and attitude. This includes supporting employees through the government-sponsored Kickstart Scheme and an apprenticeship with Multiverse.
“When we’re interviewing, we’re looking for candidates with initiative, curiosity about the way things work and a desire to get stuck in and try things out”, says Dash.
“This includes candidates with a broad skill set, rather than deep coding knowledge – so we can train them up and support their career development.
“As a member of the team, you really do feel like you’re being nurtured as you progress, and given opportunities to take on more responsibility and influence the direction of the business”, he adds.
That’s a feeling shared by Becky Cowlan, A2Z Cloud’s Marketing Manager.
“If you come up with a good business idea, you’re encouraged to take the initiative and develop this further”, she explains.
“Everyone’s voice is heard. We’re not cogs in a machine – we’re a small team and every single team member has a role to play in contributing to the business.”
In her current role, Becky is responsible for overseeing all marketing activities within the business, including managing social media, content marketing, events and more. She joined the business in 2020 shortly after the pandemic hit.
Becky was looking for a role where she could develop her career but also complete a digital marketing apprenticeship. She decided against the traditional university route and, instead, wanted to develop her skills on the job.
“A2Z Cloud supported my apprenticeship with Multiverse. This enabled me to work and train at the same time”, explains Becky.
Becky graduated with a distinction in her apprenticeship in January 2022 and she is now looking to develop her skills further with Zoho certification. This will enable her to take a more active role in presenting to A2Z Cloud’s clients.
“Training is really encouraged and you’ll find lots of employees taking different qualifications, including one member of the team who is working on a doctorate”, says Becky.
“You’re expected to work hard but, in return, there’s flexibility to help you find a good work-life balance”, she says. “The business is output-focused rather than time-focused.”
Employees who pass their probationary period can choose to work flexibly and remotely for part of the working week – coming together in the office for Team Tuesdays.
“We have the flexibility to manage our work schedules rather than being tied to a 9-5 schedule”, says Becky.
Although many employees work remotely, there is a real camaraderie within the team.
“We’re a very social bunch”, says Becky. “We have lots of social activities outside of work and genuinely enjoy spending time together.”
For a small business, A2Z Cloud has an incredibly diverse team. More than half of A2Z Cloud’s team and 75% of the senior leadership team are women – bucking the trend in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Employees come from countries such as the Netherlands, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Brazil and the UK, bringing diverse life and cultural experiences.
For example, business engineer Johannes Oghoro, known as Tega, comes from Nigeria originally. Tega has worked at A2Z Cloud since 2019. However, he may never have joined A2Z Cloud if it hadn’t been for a brief conversation in a coffee shop that same year.
A chance encounter
“I got chatting with the owner of the coffee shop and I mentioned my skills and background as a software engineering student”, explains Tega. “He said that he knew a firm that was recruiting and would pass on my details.
“I thought nothing more of this until, three or four months later, I got a call from A2Z Cloud’s CEO, Lucy Beck. She’d heard about me through another company who, in turn, had heard about me through the coffee shop owner.
“The next day, I was on my way to Salisbury for an interview for a business engineering role”, he adds.
Tega was struck by the young, friendly vibe in the A2Z Cloud office.
“I liked the team immediately – it didn’t feel like an interview”, he says. “Lucy and her colleagues explained that they were just as interested in my customer service skills and experience as my technical skills.
“I could see that A2Z Cloud would be a very welcoming place to work. It’s got a real family feel – everyone looks out for everyone else”, he says.
Tega was offered the job and he hasn’t looked back since.
In his role, Tega helps customers to get the most out of Zoho’s marketing tools and CRM – looking at ways to maximise their return on investment.
“I have lots of opportunities to come up with new ideas to improve customers’ productivity. As an employee, I always feel as though my ideas are listened to”, he says.
Supporting team members in difficult times
In 2020, due to the pandemic, Tega had issues with his visa and had to return to Nigeria. Through A2Z Cloud’s efforts, Tega was able to continue working for the business remotely. He later returned to the UK on a work visa sponsored by the company.
During his time at A2Z Cloud, Tega has given a talk to children at a local secondary school on the future of IT, alongside HR Manager Helen Parker. He’s also given a presentation at Salisbury Cathedral on his experiences of living in the city.
“It was a great experience and the A2Z Cloud team supported me to prepare for this opportunity and my colleagues showed up on the night to lend their support”, explains Tega.
“Lucy at A2Z Cloud took a chance on me and this has changed my life. I’ve grown so much and continue to grow”, he adds.
In fact, Lucy has built a reputation for taking a chance on those with potential who may not have followed a traditional career path. She’s always believed that A2Z Cloud’s success is driven by helping others to be successful.
In May 2022, Lucy announced that she would be giving 30% of the company to A2Z Cloud employees through a shared ownership scheme. This scheme is all part of the company’s commitment to recognising people who are making a real difference.
“We rate our success not just by our profits but also by the success of our people”, she explains. “Developing and nurturing our people is a vital part of this. A2Z Cloud would be nothing without them.”
Interested in a career where you help clients transform their businesses?
We’re looking for motivated, hardworking people with a background in software engineering and/or customer service. You’ll need to have lots of ideas, bags of initiative, and be a good team player.
If this sounds like you, please fill out a speculative application on our hiring page and let us know why you’d be a good fit.
We offer a really competitive benefits package, which includes hybrid and flexible working, private healthcare cover, training and career progression, and a fantastic team culture where people come first.