Getting to know Paul Orange

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Solutions Architects, Paul Orange, to learn a little more about him and his role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background and current role at Xalient? 

I left university and started working at the Co-Op in Manchester analysing utility bills for the Co-Op estates. This led me to a different job as a telecoms analyst at another company before I started to work for ‘Thus’ in Scotland as part of the telecoms and networking pricing team. Thus was purchased by Cable and Wireless (now part of Vodafone), and I took a job there as a Trainee Sales Engineer. From there, I went to Orange Business Services via a few years at Global Crossing (which became Level 3, now part of Lumen). I was at OBS for ten years.

I’m a Solutions Architect here at Xalient, it’s a home-based role, but I enjoy coming into the Leeds office.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

Having come from a huge Tier 1 global network and telecoms provider, I like that Xalient is a young, agile company. I see being ‘born in the cloud’ as a significant benefit when competing against some legacy providers in the market. We don’t have old infrastructure, such as an MPLS network, to keep supporting and paying for.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

Coffee and porridge. Check my diary to see what the day has in store. Stop the kids fighting. I might try and go for a run or cycle if it’s dry and I’m in the right mood.

And what does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent work day?

If I’m working on a live bid, my day will include:

  • Scoping and creating a Bill of Materials (BOM) for the prospective customer.
  • Completing RFP response questions.
  • Joining bid team calls.
  • Preparing internal sign-off documentation.

Once a bid is ‘won,’ I’ll work on Statement of Work (SoW) docs. Plus, there’s constantly training to do. I’m currently working towards the CISSP qualification.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I don’t know – you’ll have to ask them 😊

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing about this job is how varied the role is – I get to work on different opportunities, each unique. It’s essential to keep on top of technical developments, and training is key.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this? 

Honestly, not got a clue! 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m a season card holder at Manchester City, so every other weekend, I’m at the Etihad Stadium plus, I try and get to as many away games as I can. I also enjoy mountain biking and try to get out on my bike a few times 

a week.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits that have changed your life?

I’ve been trying to reduce my carbon footprint by travelling less by car – with my old role, I was away a lot flying and driving, so I’m glad that has reduced. 

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps you can’t live without?

I use a great app – ‘Komoot’ – for finding and following cycle trails and routes – I’d be (literally) lost without it.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

I always looked up to my Grandad – he fought for his country in the 2nd most dangerous role in the second world war – he was a pilot in bomber command (most dangerous: submariner on a U-boat). He worked hard so his family could have a good life, was great fun to be around, was always positive, and was a great human.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

My dad has a racehorse named after him (Mr Orange).

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with our Talent and Development Manager, Zoe Donnelly. Zoe is responsible for implementing the complete talent acquisition strategy for all roles; attraction and selection, internal mobility and talent management, innovation, and continuous improvement of process and recruitment tools. Zoe also looks after employee development and is currently scoping out a self-service L&D model for all employees. We caught up with Zoe to learn a little more about her and what makes her tick.

Could you tell us about your career background to kick things off? 

I’m a bit of a mixed bag in that I left Uni with a History/English degree, fell into the finance world, studied and passed my CIMA and worked in finance for a bit, and then decided to try the IT recruitment world. 

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

The people! I wasn’t looking when I was first approached, but after meeting Annie Davies (my boss), I knew I wanted to work for her. This was further cemented when I met the rest of the team – I knew I wanted to be part of this company. The energy, speed, innovation, and tech blew me away!

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

The day starts at 7 am with either a  PT session  (I like the boxing ones) or a dog walk. Then coffee (strong), check emails and reply to anything urgent while shooing my girls out the door for school (husband does the drop-offs). Then more coffee and plan my day.

And what does a day in the life of Zoe look like? Can you take us through a recent work day?

There is never a typical day in recruitment. I’m usually headhunting and sourcing candidates for roles, which can be anywhere (the UK, US or India), writing adverts, replying and arranging calls with candidates, and catching up with the HR team on changing priorities and arranging interviews and liaising with outside L&D providers to understand if their offer would fit Xalient for our employees. I am currently scoping out the L&D offering, what we have in the house, what to buy in, etc.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Good question. Hopefully, a team player and someone they can come to for support.

What do you like most about your job?

I really get a buzz out of finding the right candidate for our roles and making that offer. For some, it can be life-changing, and I often get people crying with happiness.  Can’t beat that! I also like my role’s speed, pace, and autonomy to look for solutions and make changes for the better.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

Probably own a bar, somewhere hot!

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Being with my girls (6 & 11), watching them play cricket, football, and squash. My oldest beats me at squash now. And drinking very nice wine with friends and family.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I started more frequent PT sessions. It sets me up for the day if I can fit it in early.

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

I like Insta, Tik Tok (sorry), Uber, and Deliveroo! (I don’t cook).

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

My girls inspire me to be better every day and try to change the workforce for women. So when hopefully they enter the workforce, they won’t have to deal with archaic attitudes!

What’s a fun fact about you that many people might not know?

I used to do competitive swimming for Wales 😊

After six months of training and working within the Xalient HR team as part of the government’s Kickstart Scheme, we’re thrilled to welcome Megan Underwood, in to a permanent role in the Xalient team.

Before starting at Xalient, Megan had some extended time off after her maternity leave and was considering returning to work but looking to start a new career journey. Liking the idea of working and supporting people, HR seemed like a natural fit, and she was keen to start work within an office environment to gain a good understanding of “office life”. We caught up with Megan to find out about her Kickstart experience.

What made you apply for the Kickstarter Scheme that led to your role here at Xalient?

I was at home with my little one during the pandemic, and in truth, it was difficult. I think I lost part of my identity and it made me realise that I wanted to opt for a career change when the time was right to return to work. I’ve always had a passion for working with people, so a role in HR seemed like a good path to follow. When I heard about the Kickstarter Scheme, I felt it would enable me to get the work experience I needed, and, as it turns out, it has been the gateway to a new and exciting future for me here at Xalient!

Can you talk us through what your experience has been like working for Xalient so far?

I’ve been here for over six months now and it’s flown by! I’m really enjoying the role and I feel like I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time. I cannot stress how many invaluable skills I’ve learnt that I not only implement my career, but in my daily life too.

Lucy Brewer, Xalient’s HR Manager, along with the wider HR team, offered me guidance and support throughout my placement and I had regular 1:1s to discuss any concerns or queries and reflect on what’s worked well and areas to improve. I can honestly say through my experience working at Xalient, I have become ‘Megan’ again. My confidence has grown so much, and I feel excited to see where my future career will go.

What have you enjoyed the most out of your experience?

The people! Everyone at Xalient made me feel so welcome and made the whole experience around me even better.

What has been the biggest skill you’ve learned in this role?

That’s a tough one as I’ve learnt so much! But I’d probably say conflict management – the importance of listening to others and helping to resolve issues in a respectfully, and appropriate way.

What has been your biggest learning curve starting in the HR?

Getting to grips with the structure of the organisation, how all the departments work together and the specifics of every person’s different role.

What advice would you give for anyone considering a Kickstarter role?

To anyone considering applying, I’d certainly encourage them to do so as it’s probably one of the best opportunities you’re going to get to start out your career. For those just starting a Kickstart apprenticeship –  make sure you use every opportunity to learn as much as you can, take advantage of all the support on offer and enjoy the experience – you never know where it might lead!

The Kickstart Scheme, which was rolled out in September last year, is a government-led program that aims “to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic”. The focus of the scheme is providing 6-month placements to out-of-work young people.

This week marks this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and here at Xalient, we know how important it is to look after our employees. The importance of not only enjoying work, but how having a balance is key.

Our employee engagement strategy is underpinned by a holistic approach to staff wellbeing. Every employee is encouraged and supported to thrive at Xalient and to fulfil their full potential. When we talk about thriving, we refer to within and outside the workplace and have a duty to support the mental health and wellbeing of our employees.

So what do we offer?

As part of our Employee Assistant Programme, all our employees have access to the ‘My Healthy Advantage’ app. The service works on two levels: first, to aid anyone seeking general information or advice on areas such as sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise, mood, etc. and second, to access 24/7, 365 days a year access to Counselling, CBT, legal, financial and medical support – on the same day as referral. It’s a free resource for employees to use, as and when they choose, and is completely confidential.

We also have employees who have been trained and accredited in Mental Health First Aid. They are on hand to better support our team offering knowledgeable help and advice, and can be contacted during work hours to talk about anything that might be causing staff a concern. They can also help to point them in the right direction for further support as appropriate.

Our Culture and Inclusion Programme has been designed to sustain the Xalient culture, across every professional discipline and all geographies, to be truly immersive and benefit all team members. It’s a programme for our people, to recognise and appreciate their great value, provide a work environment they enjoy and where they will thrive and open a continual channel to communicate easily with others. It  ensures the delivery of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality, give sharp focus to our Team Members’ wellbeing and enable participation for all to influence and evolve our business, as it grows.

We also continue to roll our frequent mindful workshops, self help videos and support, access to NLP coaching as well as regular social events in the offices. We find these social events give our team a break away from the working environment and the opportunity to reconnect (finally!) with face-to-face interactions in a social environment.

Xalient are proud to offer a number of mental health and wellbeing tools to everyone in our team, irrespective of location, to ensure they have access to the right support if and when they need it.

London, UK, 6th April 2022: Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity announced today that it has completed the latest phase of the company’s expansion with several key appointments in the US. These recent developments bolster Xalient’s existing presence in North America and support the expansion of the company’s growing global customer base from east to west coast.

Jeff Gray joins the company as Vice-President, US Operations. As a member of Xalient’s global Senior Leadership Team, Jeff will be responsible for accelerating Xalient’s capabilities in the region, playing an active role in client relationships and driving future growth. Jeff brings more than 30 years of senior enterprise IT experience, including 14 years at Warner Music Group and 12 years at AOL Time Warner, while most recently operating as an independent consultant managing large-scale enterprise transformation projects for global organisations.

Kevin Peterson has also joined the US team as Senior Cyber Security Strategist, responsible for helping Xalient customers develop and deliver their zero-trust networking and security strategies. Kevin is a recognised thought leader in cybersecurity and brings rich experience, previously leading his own consulting firm serving Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that he worked with Zscaler as Director, Security and Network Transformation, McKesson and Juniper Networks.

Additionally, Andrew Creech and Randy Leach join as Principal Consultants. They join the established global consulting team, responsible for designing and deploying secure, modern networks for Xalient’s US customers. Andrew has rich experience in delivering cloud solutions to large enterprises, gained during a 20-year IT career, including key roles at Verizon and IBM, while Randy brings experience in design and implementation of a wide array of digital technologies and solutions gained in companies including, most recently, media company E.W Scripps, also at Worldwide Technology and Crown Equipment Corporation.

Xalient’s US team has been further strengthened with the appointment of Marc Mancuso as Senior Business Development Manager, with responsibility for driving growth in the NW Pacific region. Marc joins from Verizon where he held a variety of market-facing roles during a successful 20-year career.

And finally, Emilee Khalil joins the growing team as Senior Account Manager, responsible for some of Xalient’s major accounts in the US. She joins from Spectrum Enterprise, prior to which Emilee was with HPE, Verizon and AT&T, gaining wide and valuable experience in the secure networking sector.

Commenting on this latest phase of Xalient’s global expansion Chief Operating Officer Mark Cooke said: “We have a very successful US operation that has helped Xalient expand its business significantly in recent years, delivering around half of our global revenues. To ensure we continue this growth path and keep delivering exceptional customer service, we are delighted to welcome these high calibre, experienced professionals into our business and wish them much success at Xalient.”

These new leadership and operational roles will enable Xalient to quickly scale to meet customer demand supported by its new service Martina, a unique AI-powered virtual network engineer designed to strengthen Xalient’s Managed Services capabilities.   Martina helps triage and resolve issues quickly, often through self-healing. This results in less downtime, enhanced security and a better experience for customers. Its development has also provided Xalient consultants with the opportunity to be involved at the forefront of AI innovation, particularly where the outcome means they can focus on more strategic aspects of service delivery, while Martina takes care of many of the day-to-day issues.

With the holy month of Ramadan starting this week, we caught up with Imran Hussain, Tier 2 Network Engineer at Xalient, to find out what Ramadan means to him and tips to support colleagues who are fasting.

What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?

I find Ramadan is a time to reset both mentally and physically and I like to use fasting as a means to detox from all the naughty foods I’ve eaten along the way 😊

It’s also a chance to think about myself -it’s a spiritual event as much as it’s about fasting, so I like to take the opportunity to reflect and continue with good practices taken from the month into the whole year.

What do you find challenging?

I find  caffeine withdrawal really hard as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It’s difficult at first, but after Ramadan, that first sip is like liquid gold!

How do you cope with going without food or drink at work all day?

Personally, I can switch off the feeling of hunger in Ramadan as I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m used to it! But one thing I do struggle with is being cold on an empty stomach – so sometimes you might find me in the office with my coat on, even if it’s a really warm and sunny day!

What’s your go to meal and drink of choice after a day’s fasting?

That amazing Yorkshire delicacy that is a ‘Chippy tea’ with a glass of coke! Whatever it is, it’s enjoyable as we’ve fasted all day so we’re ready for it!

Can you explain what a typical fasting day is like for you?

It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, which is usually an hour before dawn. So around 4am this year! I personally have a normal breakfast and make sure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes its true, we don’t drink anything at all during the sunlight hours, which can sometimes be hard, especially if it is warm. From here, it’s a normal day at work or whatever I’m doing at the weekend (minus cutting the lawn 😉) all the way up to early evening, where I like to have a light work-out just to help pass the time before the sun sets and it’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month too, and this is something all people who are fasting will partake in as part of Ramadan.

Could you share a few tips to help your colleagues support you, and others who are participating in Ramadan?

  1. Don’t worry about eating in front of those participating in Ramadan – we’ll opt out of sitting at the lunch table if needed, so don’te feel you have to apologise about eating in front of those fasting. We enjoy the fact that we are fasting and look forward to it!
  2. It’s always better to ask about each person’s experience rather than make assumptions. Of course it’s hard, it’s not meant to be easy! It’s a time for Muslims to reflect on their lives, the privileges they hold, and to think deeply about what changes we can make to make the world a better place, etc.
  3. Sometimes we don’t fast – there’s no need to pry. If you notice a Muslim colleague or friend isn’t fasting, it’s best just to leave them to it rather than pry. Lots of Muslims don’t fast and it could be for a number of reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc.).
  4. Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is a time where the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time for spending with families and friends and enjoying communal meals, so be mindful of this as well as time zones.
  5. Show solidarity – as part of Ramadan we like to think and reflect on those who are less fortunate than us, and we do what we can to help out in our local communities and charities. You may not want to fast, but you might want to help out with charity work, or support a friend or colleague this way instead.

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we caught up with one of our Technical Support Analyst’s over in India, to find out a bit more about him and his role here at Xalient…

To kick things off, could you tell us a bit about your career background and current role here at Xalient? 

I live in India (state-Bihar), and I am a BTECH graduate in Information Technology with 5 years of experience in the IT industry working as a Network Engineer. Before I joined Xalient, I worked for Wipro Limited as a Network Engineer & SD-WAN Analyst for 4.8yrs, where I then joined Xalient as a Technical Support Analyst.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

When I researched the name, I was really interested to learn how Xalient is at the forefront of bringing new and innovative technologies to the IT sector. I decided to attend the technical interview and I’m really pleased to be the second person from India to join the Xalient team.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

I turn on my work laptop and greet my teammates in our Virtual Office Group. I then go through all my emails and check the handover and then based on that, I set my work priority for the day.

What do you like most about your job?

I thoroughly enjoy working with my colleagues and really enjoy the atmosphere we have here at Xalient, it encourages me to come to work every day. I love handling customer issues and learning new things too. But I would say the most satisfactory part is when I get confirmation from a customer that the issue I’m working with them on has been resolved and get the work ‘Thanks’ at the end.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I’m an extrovert so I think they’d say that I’m really talkative and happy to give my opinion when asked!

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

Growing up I always wanted to be a Doctor so I’d have to say that.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

My daily workout, playing cricket and most importantly, keeping myself updated with the new and latest technologies.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I wake up early in the morning and follow a daily routine. It helps me with time management for everything I do.

Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Nothing major, but I always keep my phone with me in this portable world.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?

My Mum and Dad.

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we caught up with one of our Network Analysts, Gabriel Keegan to find out a bit more about him and his role here at Xalient…

 

To kick things off, could you tell us a bit about your career background and current role here at Xalient? 

I studied politics and international relations at University, but unfortunately that didn’t quite work out for me. I decided i’d be better suited to an apprenticeship instead and I’m so glad I did! I’ve worked in Technical Support my entire professional career apart from a brief stint as a warden at Buckingham Palace. Currently I work as a Network Analyst for the NOC.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

I wanted to move to Leeds to live with my partner and landed an interview with Xalient. It was a four stage interview process but as I was coming up from London I had all four stages in one day. It was quiet intense, but I was impressed that the company cared enough to be so accommodating. I was interviewing for a higher position than I had worked at previously so I was excited by the potential to advance my career. The range of technology along with the size of the customers I would be working with really attracted me, I felt like the work I would be doing was actually relevant and important.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

Turn my laptop on, check the handover and hope that no data centers have burned down!

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy fixing a problem, it’s tangible work. People understand something up until it breaks and then panic and lose interest. I enjoy being able to approach the task and figure out what’s wrong. Invariably its quite simple but occasionally its really bizarre and that adds another fun aspect to the job.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

Probably a chef.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Sleeping! I enjoy riding my bike, going to the gym, reading and spending quality time with my partner.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I’m trying to stop smoking and I am currently learning to drive.

Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I really like my rice cooker, it’s incredibly dull… but it makes great rice!

Who/what inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?

My Mum and Dad.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

I own a one eyed Chinchilla called Nero!

With 2022 almost upon us (yikes, where did this year go?!) and #worldkindnessday taking place this month, we thought we would take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of CSR and charity work we’ve undertaken over the last 12 months.

As part of our ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility, we make a lot of effort to give back to the local communities in which we operate and support worthy causes. This year, our employees chose to support three local charities to where each of our teams are based:

We are proud of the work our team have carried out this year as well as their generosity in helping to raise vial funds for these causes, and we extend our thanks to everyone who took part.

Without further ado, let us recap on some of the charitable activities we have been up to throughout the year…

Alfresco April – Virtual Walking Challenge

Back in April, the team hit the roads and took part in a virtual walking challenge, clocking up a whopping 12,582,973 step (6,291 miles/ 10,124 km) – about twice the width of the United States – all in just 3 weeks! The Xalient board pledged £1,500 for the nominated charities as a reward for the team ‘stepping up’ and completing the challenge.

Generous June – Silent Auction  

June saw the team pledge donations with bidding on a number of personalised and bespoke items at our Silent Auction. Items ranged from a personalised song, world renowned brownies, handcrafted jewellery, to a champagne breakfast at the Ivy, all generously donated by the team. The successful bidders helped raise just under £2,000 in total for our nominated charities.

Selfless September – Act of Kindness Month

In September, the team took part in Selfless September – ‘Act of Kindness Month,’ encouraging everyone to make a positive difference and spreading some unexpected joy and happiness to those around us.

As part of this, the team pledged donations towards creating 50 care packages for the Leeds Homeless Charity. We were really pleased to be able to give a little something back to our community where our Global Operations Centre is based and would like to say a big thank you to our colleagues for supporting this amazing cause.

This brings us to the end of the year (almost), and we are still hoping to squeeze in a few more activities – so watch this space!

We are feeling incredibly positive about 2022 and look forward to continuing our commitment to corporate social responsibility with many more opportunities to give something back. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date with what we are up to – you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We caught up with our Operations Manager Liz Wright to find out a bit more about her and her role here at Xalient…

To kick things off, could you tell us a bit about your career background and current role here at Xalient? 

I started out as a Mortgage Advisor at Halifax bank where I met my husband, after we had our daughter Morgan I left and started a career at Telefonica where I spent the next 15 years in various roles from Analyst, Team Leader, Senior Change Manager, and finally ending at the Business Service Ops Manager. I am now proud to be the Operations Manager for the NOC and CoE’s in Managed Services.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

The Xalient DNA, the people, and the culture were huge factors.  With the added bonus of being part of something bigger helping mold, guide, and lead an already successful team into a higher-performing one and deliver growth opportunities for our people and the business.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

My day begins at 5am with a long dog walk! and juggling chasing my teenagers out of bed for school.  After that, it’s all about caffeine and setting the priority actions for the day which are often driven by the incidents, morning stand-ups with the team, and more caffeine.

And what does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My day is relatively varied and jam-packed! depending on the incident volumes, Service tasks, Major incidents, and customer contacts that come into the team, but a good amount of my time is spent on key initiatives that I am working on with my team as part of Continuous Service Improvement.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Hmmmmm – I would hope honest, direct, driven, amusing and a wine connoisseur.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I stopped smoking 6 months ago – I hate to admit that even was a smoker but now exceptionally pleased to say that I am not anymore.

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

I would definitely say my can’t live without apps are my Les Mills, Apple music, and meditation app. I use all of them daily and would be lost without them. Oh… and the guilty pleasure of Tiktok! (hanging my head in shame).

Who inspires you (work, personal and/or historical)?

I have no one specific person who inspires me, I take inspiration from everyone I meet and interact with on a daily basis.  I work and I am friends with some really exceptional people with amazing personalities, goals, skills and backgrounds and I like to pull on all of these in the hope I can develop myself.  I do watch a lot of Ted Talks from Simon Sinek and my husband and kids keep me focused on my goals.