In February 2019, I made the decision to up sticks and move to Chicago.
Why, I hear you ask?
Aura Alliance boasts a global network of partners, covering more than 120 countries. And, as part of our ongoing transformation, our goal is to increase our presence across the world too. I am fortunate enough to be at the forefront of this drive.
Read on as I discuss the windy city (the weather has actually been fantastic), my role – and why it’s such an important move for Aura Alliance.
The decision to open new Aura Alliance offices across the pond was relatively simple.
With our largest customers and partners both based in the states, the US represents our biggest successes to date. Most importantly, it’s home to the headquarters of countless global companies that we aim to help.
Chicago is a central hub between the East and the West. So, it works practically between the different time zones, which allows us to maintain a balance across the states. It’s obviously a great city too, with amazing food and drink, sports galore and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
Any why me?
I love travelling. It runs in my family, with relatives across the globe.
So, when the opportunity arose at work, I was the first to put my name down. As well as being perfect for Aura Alliance, Chicago was ideal for me. I have relatives over here and, to be honest, it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to experience.
Workwise, I specialise in solutions consulting – a nuts and bolts man, you could say. I’ve got over 15 years of experience in telecoms, having started as an engineer at BT before working for Avaya resellers in the UK, Europe and New Zealand.
Since joining the Aura Alliance in 2017 as a solutions consultant, I’ve developed into a key member of the USA team – so the move seemed like a natural progression.
Getting started in Chicago
The first six months in Chicago have been full of new experiences. Not least because I’ve swapped my beloved West Ham for the Bulls, Cubs and Bears of Chicago. Having seen the first two in action, I can’t wait for the NFL season to start in September, so I can make it a full house.
From a work perspective, the move has been all about trying to expand our presence and grow the Aura Alliance in the US. Being based in Chicago enables me to attend local events with key vendors. At my first few Avaya chapter meetings, I’ve been able to learn about the challenges customers face in the US.
While there are natural similarities, I’ve also become aware of two key differences:
It’s a cliché that everything is bigger in the US. But it really does ring true when it comes to their communications systems. I’ve heard customers describing their ‘small systems’, which would actually be amongst the largest in the UK!
In the UK and Europe, Avaya Version 8 has become almost the standard. Across the pond, there are a lot more companies still using Avaya 6 and 7. Why? It seems it’s simply down to their size. These larger companies are tankers, that take longer to adapt. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we can help with…
Our plan for the US
My role is primarily to support our US partners in delivering global solutions for their customers. The Aura Alliance enables our partners to deliver international solutions to customers across 120 countries globally, protecting against competitors and driving increased revenue for their business.
As a member of the Aura Alliance, they make that process easy with a consistent SLA, one contract and a single point of contact. Having more presence here makes it easier for us to interact with our customers and partners and meet face to face to better understand the intricacies of the local market.
The next steps
My move to the US is just the start of Aura Alliance’s focus in the region. In fact, we’re already recruiting new people to join our journey in Chicago. I can’t wait to welcome them on board and help integrate them into the team. It will also be nice having someone to talk to about all the American TV and sports I’ve been watching – rather than having to hear about EastEnders and the Hammers from everyone at home!
Over the next six months, I’ll be visiting Florida, New York and California to meet more partners and customers. As much as we champion communication technology, there are some difficulties that are much easier to get across face-to-face. That’s something we’ll be looking to improve upon, especially on the west coast.
I’m also looking forward to seeing more of our CEO, Tony Parish, who will be spending a lot more time in the US over the coming months and years. On the flipside, I’ll also be heading back to Europe in October for the 2019 Partner Conference in Amsterdam! There’s so much to look forward to.