End of July 2022, I was promoted to Senior Technical Account Manager at VMware.
While for some a promotion to the next level has been part of their career, I recently realized that this promotion was the first in my working career! I am a bit more than three years into my career at VMware as a Technical Account Manager but I am well into my career of about 30 years.
Start with Training on the Job
I started my career as an industrial clerk trainee as I decided against going to university. After being in school for 14 years – 13 in the German school system plus one year as an exchange student in the US, in the Bluegrass state Kentucky, I wanted to learn to be hands on and no longer just learn everything in theory. I completed my job training half a year earlier because of my good grades in vocational school – with a certificate from the chamber of commerce and industry.
My first job after my training was at Novell. I started as purchasing assistant. As Novell had two German entities at that time, my colleague and I were switching the purchasing ownership for both companies each month. I then moved into the role of the Finance & Administration assistance of the regional finance controller. Besides assisting my boss and the local finance teams in each country, I was also responsible for the entire car fleet – with 100 – 120 company cars – and all mobile phones related topics. Next step in my Novell career was working as an Anti-Piracy Specialist. I was part of the EMEA Anti-Piracy department and had the responsibility for cases in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. After that I moved into the role of a Pre-Sales Systems Engineer. Originally, I applied for the role of the Marketing SE but like two weeks into the job, the role was cut but the management did not want to lose me, so I took on the role as Pre-Sales Systems Engineer. My focus still lay with Marketing, doing roadshows but I also worked with the internal sales reps and trained them on Novell products. My Novell career ended kind of abruptly when I was laid off.
You could say changing roles within a company is like a promotion, but I say – it was not.
My next career chapter took me to being self-employed. First as a web designer, working with Novell Consulting customers – helping them to get their Novell Portal Services corporate identity branded. I also did web site projects with small businesses.
After a few years, my focus shifted from IT to animals. I became a cat behavior consultant and was one of the first three Bach Foundation Registered Animal Pracitioners (BFRAP) in Germany. As a cat behavior consultant for ten years, I have worked and spoken with a lot of cat owners and their families. I learnt that if I explain something pictorially a lot of people understood it better and it made more sense to them. During my time as cat behavior consultant, I also opened a B2C online store for cat toys.
During the time working with cats and their owners, I never lost touch with IT because I was my own webmaster and I learnt about virtualization. My first encounter with virtualization came via my husband. He worked with vSphere because of his customers’ projects and our own small data center in the basement was virtualized.
Back as FTE
After a decade with cats, I decided I wanted to get back into employment. I started with one of the leading German job boards. I was part of the team creating the job ads. What I did not know when I started, it was planned to disband the team about 7 months after my start. As I was the last one who joined, I was the first one out.
My next chapter was Customer Success Manager at a small SaaS startup company. When I started, I was the oldest employee at the company but that was not a reason for hindrance. I enjoyed the work with my colleagues and the customers and soon, I took on the challenge to become also a second level support resource. As my interest in the SaaS product grew, I took the chance to get part time into product management. Working with the product managers on future release and helping to develop better features was a great experience.
My Journey at VMware
But at that time, the chance to join VMware as Technical Account Manager came up and I just could not resist that option. It was my second interview with VMware – but second time round, I felt more comfortable, better prepared, and ready to take on the challenges this would bring. And yes, I was hired! The hiring manager – he still is my manager who supports me and my development and growth – made the decision that I have the potential to be a great Technical Account Manager. We both knew I had a lot to learn.
In July 2019, I started with the German TAM team as their newest member. My VMware journey began with having a great colleague as my mentor. He helped me in finding my way through all the internal systems, he answered all my questions and gave me his insights on being a TAM. Also, the entire team – Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – welcomed me with open arms. They knew, I was not the typical new hire TAM with years of experience in virtualization. I learnt – they googled me .
In my first few months, I got involved with one of the TAM councils focusing on a TAM deliverable. The next option to go an extra mile opened when I was asked if I wanted to join TAM Lab. I took on the lead for the new EMEA chapter when the UK TAM colleague who had started the chapter moved into a different role. I still enjoy working with the US TAMs and another UK TAM in the TAM Lab leadership. In the first year, I passed the VCP-DCV certification. All TAMs are at least VCP certified. We have a VCDX certified TAM on the team.
When I started working with my first customers, I always knew I had a team which I can ask if I needed answers, I did not know myself. I am now working with customers in various industries – automotive, financial, healthcare, public. I help them to get the most out of their VMware solutions and products, to achieve their business goals and support them as their trusted advisor. And I still can rely on my colleagues for customer specific questions because we all share our knowledge, experiences, and learnings. It’s a part of the TAM DNA to share and help each other. #sharingiscaring
People who know me, know that doing my job always gives me a chance to do things above and beyond. In 2020, I started working on the TAM social media channels with a group of TAMs from different countries. I am now one of three leads. We are working closely with our customer success product marketing. We put a lot of efforts in publishing the amazing work VMware TAMs deliver – with TAM WhizCards and blogs written by TAMs. I might be a bit biased on that topic, as I know and believe there is no other community like the VMware TAM community. We are spread around the world, and we all aim at making our customers successful. We also help each other. We have internal communications channels on various topics, and if a TAM has a question one of the other TAMs will have either the answer or at least an idea who could help.
I also got the chance to be a mentor to two new hire TAMs who joined VMware in the past 15 months. I am a part time mentor as I share the mentorships for each mentee with another TAM. As teams, we helped our new colleagues to get into the role of a VMware Technical Account Manager. Both are working with their own customers now but as mentors we are happy to help them if they are confronted with a topic they are not fully into (yet). They also know besides us mentors; they can reach out to the entire team.
End of 2020, I applied for the first time for the vExpert program. I made it, I got in – I was a vExpert 2021. I reapplied for 2022, and I made it in – again. Also in 2021, I decided it was the right time to apply for the VMware CTOA Ambassador program. Colleagues who were active CTOAs told me that they see me as a great fit for the program. I applied and after months of waiting and hoping, I learnt in January 2022, that I made into the program.
The CTO Ambassador program is run by the VMware Office of the CTO. As a CTO Ambassadors, I am a member of a small group of VMware’s most experienced and talented customer facing, individual contributor technologists. We are pre-sales systems engineers (SEs), technical account managers (TAMs), professional services consultants, architects and global support services engineers. As ambassadors, we help to ensure a tight collaboration between R&D and our customers so that we can address current customer issues and future needs as effectively as possible.
Within my career at VMware, I have taken chances, involved myself, and I was and am motivated to go the extra mile. The now received promotion to Senior TAM, I take it as appreciation from our German TAM managers for my hard work and dedication.
YOU can do it, too!
As you can tell by my personal career story, you can get to any level you want to get to. You do need motivation and be willing to work hard – but it’s worth it. And I am not slowing down. I already keep an eye on my next career goal – becoming a Staff Technical Account Manager .