At CDW, we pride ourselves on being a team of diverse interests and skills – but even among such diversity, Solutions Specialist Aaron Morgan’s racing career is unique. We’ve been privileged to discuss Aaron’s racing journey with him over the past few weeks. On October 10th, Aaron and his team came an impressive 4th in class in the first and 3rd in class in the second race at the Britcar Endurance Championship at Silverstone. We caught up with him after the race to discuss his work as a Solutions Specialist here at CDW.
Racing is in my blood. My dad was a successful kart racer, and I grew up surrounded by motorsport. When I came to race myself, I fell in love with it immediately – first MotoX, then cars. It’s part of who I am.
Racing is a high-risk, competitive sport and it’s fair to say that it reflects parts of my personality. But there’s more to racing than just the adrenaline rush, from the importance of teamwork to the granular preparation that the team undergoes before we get out on the track.
Being analytical, a team player and having a passion for technology certainly boosts my ‘work’ CV, and my career at CDW allows me to draw on these strengths. To give you an idea of what my role entails and how CDW’s Solutions Specialists help our customers, I’ve broken down a typical workday.
9:00 – Setting out for the day
I start the day checking and answering any outstanding emails or instant messages – no surprises there! Most of our projects work to tight deadlines, and Solutions Specialists play a central role in the process. Any issues can delay the wider project, so we aim to get them resolved quickly.
10:00 - 12:00 – Working to overcome challenges
The day starts properly once I begin working with CDW Account Managers – they act as direct contact for our customers and coordinate projects. Together we determine which solution best fits the customers’ requirements for the project.
Like a racing team, the solutions team draw on each other’s expertise – some co-workers may be more familiar with certain vendors or technologies and can identify strengths or potential blind spots. Sometimes we’ll check in with our team of experienced solutions architects who have a deep knowledge of their niche – otherwise we may set up a qualification call with the client to dig deeper into their requirements.
Once we’ve determined the customer’s exact requirements, the team will assess which vendors and solutions are right for them – often this requires a careful balance and compromise, given each customer’s needs are unique. Importantly, the Solutions Specialist team isn’t directly involved in the sales process, so customers are provided with an independent view of the technologies, based on an assessment of exactly what is right for their organisation.
Understandably, budget is an important concern here, but we’re also often asked about usability. For larger institutions, making the switch to a new technology can mean a significant investment in re-training – they want solutions that are intuitive.
12:00 – 13:00 - Lunch break
Lunchbreak is for downtime – or if I have a race coming up, preparation!
13:00 – 15:00 - The home straight
In the afternoon we’ll work to get any projects to completion. Recently a customer requested help updating their network security firewalls, following the switch to remote working. This was a vital undertaking as firewalls play an essential role in protecting the integrity of a company’s networks. With a job like this, the process of identifying the problem, weighing up partners and potential solutions, and working with the customer on implementing the solution can often take up the best part of a whole day alone.
15:00 – 17:30 – Training
The technology partners we work with are constantly developing new innovations and the market changes rapidly. This means our afternoons are often used for training to update our knowledge of partners, product announcements, technological innovations and the like.
We’re often encouraged to take the opportunity to expand the breadth of our knowledge. When I race, I have to learn quickly from mistakes and identify areas for improvement on every lap – if I have been taking a corner too slowly or braking too late, for example. I try to take this same mindset and openness to learning into my career – recently I’ve been taking more of an interest in security, and I’ve been working with a mentor at CDW to develop that understanding.
Slowing down for the evening
Social distancing measures might’ve stopped our team meeting in person, but CDW has kept the team connected with an active and diverse social community programme that offers something for everyone – from virtual yoga to pub quizzes to film clubs.
Ahead of a race I’ll usually spend my evenings preparing, familiarising myself with the track, working on our team’s race strategy, and generally making sure everything is in place for us to put in the best performance possible.
Susan Cotton, Head of Brand Marketing at CDW.