As we celebrate Black History Month this October, I would like to share my journey into consulting to inspire and motivate readers whilst providing insight into my personal background.
I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana and I grew up as the only boy with two sisters. At the age of five, my father relocated to the UK as a result of the political instability in Ghana paired with economic hardship.
My mum worked long hours as a nurse and as a result, I would quite often hang out after school, arriving home late and causing menace with the boys in the local neighbourhood.
Understandably, this was a concern for my parents, and they soon devised a plan to keep me at home. My dad shipped a number of game consoles, including Sega Mega Drive, NES, and an Amstrad CPC 464 computer to our home and soon enough, I was glued to the TV playing video games. This earlier experience in my childhood first piqued my interest in computers.
My career aspirations completely changed when I was awarded the "Best Computer Student" with a cash reward during a speech and prize-giving day in secondary school. This was enough to convince my parents that IT was the right career path for me and that I should abandon the idea of becoming a lawyer.
The start of my IT journey
I enrolled in a professional training college for a Diploma in IT after secondary school, where I gained my first MCP certification in Windows 2000. The skills that I gained helped me to start my own consulting project, supporting the setup of internet cafes and providing hardware repair services.
I eventually decided to move to the UK to further my education. I studied for a City and Guilds Advanced Diploma in IT for a year and transitioned to study BSc Computing at the University of East London. I enrolled at the University of East London as an international student, paying over £8000+ per year with initial support from my dad whilst also working part time at a supermarket as a Customer Service assistant to pay the rest of the fees. During the holidays, I worked as a cleaner on the London Underground to further support my fees.
I achieved my personal goal and graduated with a First-Class degree. I went on to study for additional certifications including ITIL v3, SharePoint, Windows Desktop MCP, Citrix CCA and Security+.
My first role in IT
I got my first role as an IT Support Engineer before I graduated, where I was able to utilise the communication and customer service skills that I had gained from working in a supermarket. This sparked my interest in virtualisation technology, and I invested in a VMware certification, which I funded myself, and completed the training and certification over the weekend. With the training behind me, I was able to lead and implement the fax virtualisation on VMware and drive successful testing, helping the client's transition. This led to several awards and recognition within the organisation.
As a result of a recommendation from a colleague, I had the opportunity to work for a global financial services company as a Global Technical Support Engineer for a year, where I took up additional certifications and training. As I had my eyes set on consulting, I refused to extend my contract with the company and was fortunate to have been headhunted by a major tech consultancy.
My first role involved DC migration data gathering and I had to travel to Manchester for four days of the week - something that I was not used to and which required flexibility. It reached a point where we had to sleep at the client’s office to ensure that deadlines were met.
I volunteered to train new graduates in virtualisation and Cloud, and organised AWS certification preparation training for colleagues who wanted to study towards the qualification.
My efforts and achievements in the world of consulting were strongly recognised and I developed a number of meaningful relationships with colleagues. As a result, I was referred on to DMW Group, where I started work as a Managing Consultant after eight years with another technical consultancy.
What I've learned
Show appreciation for the support
I have a choice to either blame my dad for leaving or appreciate the support from his early investment which developed my interest in computers. I am forever grateful to him for the sacrifice, something that has seen me appreciate my family even more.
Know what you want and be willing to pay the price for it
I was willing to pursue my dream of IT Consulting without being discouraged by my parents and for fear of not finding a job. I was willing to take a salary cut in order to join my first technical consultancy. My focus was on the bigger picture.
Invest in yourself
The biggest advantage I've had over the years is investing in myself to become better in the role I perform, continually evaluating what is in demand and aligning this with the relevant certifications. Today, I have over 30+ certifications and I am currently preparing for my AWS Solution Architect Professional Certification.
Better try and fail than not to try at all
People will always have their own opinions about you, but what you think and say about yourself is more important.
Above all, focus on building better relationships and network for success. Through my journey, I have learned the importance of emotional intelligence, how to communicate effectively, how to be resilient and tenacious, all of which are core principles for DMW Group, a Credera company.