Q&A with Susan McCambridge, Economic Development Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College

  • Susan shares some insight into the Assured Skills Programme and her journey into the tech sector

    Why did you join the tech sector?

    I wanted to do a Business degree, but my mother was a careers teacher and she suggested that I do a new degree in Computer Science with Business. I soon realised I did not want to be a programmer. I really enjoyed talking about Business and Technology and realised that a role in Business Development would suit me. I applied to several graduate schemes and after university joined Hewlett Packard as a Sales trainee.

    What did this involve?

    For two years I would spend one week in the Solihull office and the next week in Europe at different Hewlett Packard locations learning about the technology they manufactured and Business Development training. It was a fantastic opportunity.

    How has this early experience impacted your career?

    Business Development is about building relationships with a range of people and this is a key asset in the technology sector. Selling involves you being able to understand a business issue and help others achieve their goals. It develops communication skills, problem-solving, networking and resilience skills as well as developing your internal product or service expertise and relationship management skills with a range of stakeholders both internally and externally. These are all core skills which can apply to any role in the tech sector.

    Would you recommend a Business Development career in the Tech Sector?

    My career in Business Development has provided me with the opportunity to use the skills I have learned in a wide range of areas. I have sold multimillion software development contracts for a large IT company and my own IT Business Development business which outsourced part or all of the Business Development cycle for global consultancy businesses. For the last 10 years I have used my relationship management skills to lead the Assured Skills programme for Belfast Met. This has contributed over 2500 skilled professionals to companies through NI and has supported the growth of the Digital and IT sector.

    Can you tell us more about the Assured Skills programme?

    The programme is designed to upskill individuals and help themcompete for guaranteed job vacancies in new foreign direct investment (FDI) companies and expanding businesses.

    Since 2013, Belfast Met has delivered over 148 of these graduate retraining programmes working with companies such as Microsoft, PwC, EY, KPMG, Metaswitch, Aflac, PA Consulting, TPICAP, Deloitte, Version 1, Sensata, PA Consulting and FinTrU. We provide a pipeline of potential employees in areas including Artificial Intelligence, Applied Intelligence, Cyber Security, Data Engineering, Data Analytics, IOT, Software Testing, Modern Application Development, 365 Cloud and Cloud Engineering.

    Funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE) the Programme offers six to nine weeksr pre-employment training. The programme typically includes the latest technical, business and professional skills such as resilience, stakeholder engagement, communication and problem-solving skills.

    Academies are designed in collaboration with companies involved, with content directly relevant to the skills required for the job roles and including the latest certifications recognised by industry.

    The students are graduates from any discipline and many are 10-15 years post-graduation looking to move into the IT sector but have no IT background.

    What advice would you give to someone who would like to change career or consider a career in tech?

    There are a vast range of roles in this sector and companies value the experience that new entrants bring. It is a vibrant, well paid and growing sector with a wide range of roles apart from coding. The website has information about how to enter the IT sector.

    I would wholeheartedly recommend a career in the IT sector; I have loved every role I have had.

    This article appears in the skills, education and tech careers edition of Sync NI magazine. To receive a free copy click here.

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