On February 6th, we held our Breaking into Tech with Avanade* where we explored IT consulting and careers in tech and business. The speakers discussed their interests, goals, and how that can be applied to working in the tech industry!
*Avanade is a global professional services company providing IT consulting and services focused on the Microsoft platform with artificial intelligence, business analytics, cloud, application services, digital transformation, modern workplace, security services, technology and managed services offerings.
Meet the panelists!
James Lee: Product Manager, Product Management (EXP)
Went to Emory University and majored in Info Systems and Operations Mgmt (ISOM) and Finance
SME/Focus Area: Product Management, Product Ownership, Management Consulting
Fun fact: Published a mobile game for iOS and Android called Disco Dino
Allison Lee: Senior Consultant, Full-Stack Development (focus in software engineering)
Went to UW and majored in Informatics
SME/Focus Area: Microsoft Azure, Agile Scrum, Full-Stack Development
Fun fact: always brings spam musubi as airplane snack
Jamie Villanueva: Consultant, Business Analysis (EXP)
Went to UW and majored in Marketing with a Spanish Minor
Also did CISB with the spanish track
SME/Focus Area: Scrum/Product Ownership, Project Management for Dynamics/PP; Design Thinking
Currently a consulting advisor for the Business Management consulting program, UW Foster Hovind Global
Fun fact: photography on the side as a hobby, mainly landscape and portraits
Kevin Chen: Senior Business Analyst, Business Analysis (EXP)
Went to UW and majored in Finance and Marketing
SME/Focus Area: Power Platform + Dynamics 365; CRM; Marketing Automation
Fun fact: Currently binging the show Yellowstone and is now obsessed with vintage Carhartt
Who is Avanade? (We like to call ourselves the “Microsoft leg of Accenture”)
Avanade are experts on digital and cloud services! The 3 buckets of main areas they focus on are distinctive experiences, limitless learning, and ambitious growth. Avanade’s culture is built on three pillars: Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging. They focus a lot on inclusion and diversity with their employee networks/ employee resource groups (gender, LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, etc.). The mission of the Asian Employee Network (AEN) is to cultivate a community of Asian professionals and allies to achieve their aspirations and become inclusive thought leaders. Their vision is to Break the Bamboo Ceiling which is to achieve inclusive and equitable reputation and advocacy of diverse Asian professionals in leadership. The 4 big goals of this network are cultural competency & allyship (sponsoring ABSA!), learning & development, community impact, and visibility & recognition.
Why did you choose to work at Avanade? How can students benefit from starting their careers at Avanade?
Kevin: Started as an intern in corporate development (very finance heavy role) and did this for 12 months then networked his way into a new role. Students are able to try and figure out what they want to do. He did finance, marketing, and professional sales projects (knew he hated sales but loved marketing + finance) so he was able to see what he wanted and didn't want.
Jamie: Got an offer six months after she graduated by networking because she had connections at Avanade!! She had also applied to lots of jobs on linkedin and career fairs. She wanted to do marketing at the start, but it was a very competitive market for marketing jobs at that time. After coming to Avanade, she didn't really know what consulting was going into but did many projects in consulting and enjoyed it.
Allison: Started as an intern the summer of 2019. She really enjoyed it because she felt valued as an employee at Avanade and everyone was very easily approachable. She originally didn’t know what she wanted to do, like back end development vs front end development, but when she tried back end projects she realized it wasn’t really for her. She really likes the flexibility of trying different projects and they also were paid to get those certifications which helped with furthering skills and growing your career.
James: Didn’t start with Avanade, but was working with professional services (audit). He wasn't passionate about this which is what got him into management consulting. He wanted to work with projects from beginning to end and be able to see the different stages of the cycle. Avanade is a tech consulting firm and he loved getting to see the process of different tech products. The benefits are the flexibility to work on different products and industries and especially if there are different things people are passionate about.
What exactly is “IT Consulting”? How does it differ from other types of consulting? How does working in the business sector of the tech industry differ from working in the business sector of any other industry?
James: IT consulting depends on what you want to contribute and your skill set and it's really up to you to shape what IT consulting means. You really work with the tech aspect of it and you can think how you’re going to deliver and enable it. There's lots of different roles focused on technology that you wouldn’t find in other industries.
Jamie: IT consulting works heavily with tech such as delivering digital solutions, implementing different technologies, retiring an old technology and moving onto a newer one. You might also have heard of marketing consulting and HR consulting, so it really depends on expertise.
What is the recruitment process like for IT consulting or other roles in the tech industry?
Kevin: Remembers recruiting for lots of consulting + marketing tech roles. At Avanade, they didn't have to do very intense case studies. It was more of expressing knowledge about different technologies that Avanade had and proving you have the business acumen that can transfer to Avanade.
Jamie: She interviewed for marketing, HR, and tech roles and within these marketing and HR roles, she was quizzed on a lot of specific jargon concepts. Her Avanade interview focused a lot more on soft skills/ transferable skills. It was a lot more behavioral and less about technical skills.
Allison: Joined Avanade as an intern and did group interviews where she looked at case studies with 3 interns. It was a lot about how well you worked together and the presentation in the end. She also put emphasis that it was more about the soft skills than book knowledge. Some LeetCode questions were given to her, but there was more focus on the group interviews.
How did your college major translate to the work you do now?
Kevin: It can vary a lot even from project to project. Implementing dynamics is where his marketing and the professional sales program background has helped him. He is very grateful that he was in the class, Business Application, where he learned Altrix, Power Bi, Excel, etc. Jamie says that you can also learn these technologies by yourself too!
Jamie: She doesn't really use marketing but is trying to get into CRM marketing, which is when she will use it more. CISB is helpful because there are teams overseas and this helps with the different cultural backgrounds and ways of communicating with others. Capstone prepared her for lots of presentations in front of clients and being asked those hard questions.
James: His Information Systems and Finance background was helpful because even though he is not a developer, he has that knowledge and experience that can translate to those that speak a certain language.
Do you have any advice for students interested in the business aspect of the tech industry?
Allison: Grow your network! Even with peers since you'll all be at different companies.
James: Get familiar with the terminology and as a PM studying methodologies can help you find what value you can provide to an engineering team even if you don’t know how to code.
Kevin: Understand the fundamentals of data (What is a field? How do databases work?). Also play around with a business apps tool (powerbi, tableau, sharepoint). These are very applicable in the long term.
Jamie: Agile and Scrum Methodologies are definitely important! Take a step outside your comfort zone once in a while since the business world has a lot of people skills. For group projects, try to create groups where you complement each other in terms of skills so you can learn from each other and don't just group with your friends all the time!
Thank you for tuning in to our Breaking into Tech event with Avanade! We hope you enjoyed, and we hope to see you next week at our Foster/ WSA application workshop!!