Ramadan Tips from Xalient's Imran Hussain

As the holy month of Ramadan begins, it’s a time for reflection, self-improvement, and a heightened sense of community. For Muslims worldwide, this month-long fasting and prayer is a time to strengthen their faith, connect with loved ones, and give back to those in need. At Xalient, we’re fortunate to have colleagues from diverse backgrounds. We caught up with Imran Hussain, Network Team Lead, to learn more about his experience with Ramadan and his tips for supporting colleagues observing the fast.

What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?

Ramadan is a time to reset mentally and physically, and I like fasting 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 from the month into the whole year.

Xalient employee smiling at the camera

What do you find challenging?

I find caffeine withdrawal hard, as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It isn’t easy 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?

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 I struggle with 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 after a day’s fasting?

That amazing Yorkshire delicacy 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!

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

It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, usually an hour before dawn. So around 4 am this year! I have a normal breakfast and ensure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes, it’s true, we don’t drink anything 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 ) up to the early evening, where I like to have a light workout to help pass the time before the sun sets. It’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month, which all fasting people will partake in as part of Ramadan.

Could you share tips to help your colleagues support you and others 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’t 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 and privileges and think deeply about what changes we can make to improve the world.

  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 to leave them to it rather than pry. Many Muslims don’t fast for several reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc.).

  4. Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is when the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time to spend with families and friends and enjoy communal meals, so be mindful of this and 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.

Xalient is proud to announce that we have been named a finalist for the 2023 EMEA Inspiring Workplace Awards.

These awards recognize organizations prioritising their employees’ well-being and creating a positive working environment. Originally known as The Employee Engagement Awards, the Inspiring Workplaces Awards have evolved to acknowledge forward-thinking and people-first organizations.

This is the second time that Xalient has been recognized for this award, following our 2021 EMEA Inspiring Workplaces Award for the Inspiring Culture category (click here to read more). We are thrilled to be included in this year’s Top 50 Finalists.

Xalient’s CEO and founder, Sherry Vaswani, said, “We are delighted to be named as finalists for the 2023 EMEA Inspiring Workplace Awards. At Xalient, we pride ourselves on creating a positive working environment where our team feels supported, inspired, and motivated. We are grateful to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to promoting the inspirational work done by all finalists.”

The awards winners will be announced during the Gala Dinner at the Tottenham Stadium in London on May 11, 2023. Xalient would like to congratulate all the finalists and nominees and wish them the best of luck when the winners are announced.

At Xalient, we are committed to creating a people-first culture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation. We are thrilled to be named a finalist for the 2023 Inspiring Workplace Awards. We will continue to prioritise our employees’ well-being as we strive to deliver exceptional customer results.

View the full finalist list here: 2023 Inspiring Workplaces Awards finalists for EMEA announced (inspiring-workplaces.com)

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women’s achievements worldwide and reflect on the ongoing struggle for gender equality. In the tech industry, women continue to be underrepresented, facing barriers to advancement and often feeling isolated in male-dominated workplaces. Despite these challenges, many talented and inspiring women are making their mark in tech, and we are proud to introduce you to some of them today.  

We spoke with six female members of the Xalient team to hear their thoughts and insights on what it’s like to be a woman in tech, and how we can work towards a more inclusive industry. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech, and what do you enjoy most about the work? 

Aman Kaur (Customer Success Manager): I was always interested in technology from a young age, and it started with my Dad buying me and my sisters a desktop PC when we were very young. Through this hobby, I chose to study business computing at university, then a master’s in IT for management. I worked in Change management and service management/customer success management for telco/tech customers. My passion is for helping people and technology fits my personality and skillset. What I love most about my job is the challenge – facing a customer who isn’t happy and making them happy gives me a buzz! 

Lori Loftus (Customer Success Manager): I fell into tech almost accidentally, primarily because of curiosity about using tech to work for us and make life easier/better. It was an enjoyable puzzle to investigate and find a technical solution for a complicated process, an issue, or a workstream. The career took on a life of its own just by curiosity and interest in improving processes with tech. 

Mary (MK) Smith (Business Development Manager): I have always been good at working on computers but never thought about making it a career.  It wasn’t until I moved to Charlotte, did I land my first job in technology.  I like that it never stops changing.  New technology is always emerging, and it is fast-paced, so you must stay up to date. 

Akshayata Madan (Senior Security Engineer): I was initially drawn to tech because of video games and computers! I still remember being about 7 in my Dad’s office, fiddling with his computer and being in awe of how the machine worked. 11 years later, it led me to choose engineering. What I enjoy most about working in tech is constant learning and problem-solving. Technology constantly evolves, so there’s always something new to learn and a new challenge to tackle. I also love being part of a team passionate about creating innovative solutions and improving how people interact with the world. 

Hena Ahmad (Programme Director): I stumbled into a career in tech by chance as I grew up when computers were first introduced to the mass market. After finishing university, I applied for a business analyst role at an outsourcer and was assigned to work in the Telecoms division. This is where I found my passion for working in tech, specifically using technology to improve customers’ business processes. What excites me the most about working in tech is the technical aspects and how it can add value and improve people’s lives. 

Emma Banner (Bid Manager): If I’m being honest, I just fell into the tech industry.  It wasn’t something I ever imagined myself pursuing, and I was extremely nervous when I started nine years ago that I might struggle because I am not technical.  I wish I had told myself back then that the tech industry doesn’t mean you have to be ‘techy’ I love what I do and couldn’t imagine working in any other sector, my work is so varied, and I have the opportunity to learn, grow and work with so many different departments across the business. With so many customers from different sectors, it is perfect for me. 

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in tech today, and how can we address them? 

Hena: Online surveys indicate three primary challenges facing today’s women in the tech industry. Firstly, there is a lack of female role models, with most famous tech company CEOs being male. To inspire the next generation of women to pursue careers in tech, we need to provide them with successful female role models. Secondly, women remain a minority in the tech industry, and gender bias can start as early as in school. Girls still shy away from STEM subjects, so we must increase awareness and encourage more women to apply for tech careers. Encouraging women to speak at tech events can provide visibility and mentoring opportunities and showcase that women can excel in what was once a male-dominated industry. Thirdly, the gender pay gap is a major concern in the tech industry, with women earning less than their male counterparts. 

Mk: There are many challenges women in technology face daily, but I believe every woman must push themselves and others daily to change the status quo.  Otherwise, we don’t grow.  Women must address these challenges face on and speak up about them and make people talk about them to progress and make changes. 

Have you faced any obstacles or biases in your career as a woman in tech, and how have you overcome them? 

Aman: Going on maternity leave and returning to work was tough; seeing people progress whilst my career was on hold was a tough pill to swallow. I returned from maternity leave on both occasions and worked hard to prove my worth.  At the time, I also had several strong female mentors who helped me stay focused and helped set out attainable goals and objectives.   

Lori: Absolutely. I’ve experienced having my ideas stolen and being underpaid compared to my direct reports. I’ve also been passed over for a promotion despite having superior customer satisfaction ratings and experience. However, I still enjoy my career in tech and find it challenging. I choose to continue doing my best and encourage other women to pursue their dreams in tech or any field without being held back by beliefs that it’s not possible. Anything is possible.

MK: I have, and sadly, it came from another woman when I started my tech career.  I live by the saying, “kill them with kindness”, and always be the bigger person in every situation.  I knew it was something lacking in her life and not necessarily something I was doing, and I chose to ignore it, work hard and prove myself along the way. 

Akshayata: I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by exceptional leaders, mentors, and colleagues throughout my career. I have been fortunate to have not experienced any significant hindrances to my growth due to gender biases. However, there have been moments when I sensed a shadow of disappointment among customers upon learning that a woman had joined their Severity 1 network down call to resolve their issue. Nevertheless, I take pride in quickly resolving their issues and providing a solution within a shorter time than the average resolution time. Ultimately, my achievements speak for themselves, and any lingering doubts or biases are swiftly forgotten. 

Hena: As the only woman in the room, I faced age differences and imposter syndrome in the early days. However, I learned to stand up for what’s right and not be afraid to speak up. Although I didn’t know everything, I gained the confidence to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Working in the Middle East as a woman was also challenging, but I proved myself through professionalism and adaptability. Balancing work and motherhood was tough, but I persevered and earned respect from my peers and clients. Juggling responsibilities is a common struggle, and it’s important to understand and adapt to cross-cultural ways of working while staying true to yourself.

Emma: Yes, I especially struggled when I was pregnant with my first child. I felt that people stereotype women who have children, want flexible working arrangements, or want to come back part-time only and that they can’t work and have children. It isn’t easy because, as a mother, you want to do what is best for your children, but at the same time, a career to me is essential, it feels as if people think you can’t have both.   

I am now lucky enough to work for a company that allows me to work full time but also be a mother to two little ones, giving me the flexibility to do the school run, work from home, or work in the office to suit me. 

How do you think the tech industry can become more inclusive and diverse, and what role do you see women playing in this? 

Lori: Despite various experiments and regulations to increase diversity, the percentages of women and minorities in leadership positions still show otherwise. President Biden is trying to create a diverse cabinet and set of advisors. Still, there are concerns that preference given to gender or race qualifiers may prevent the most qualified person from getting the job. However, great accomplishments by women have shown that passion and opportunity are critical elements of success outside of traditional qualifications. We need to create and protect opportunities for women, disrupt the standard system, and encourage them to take non-traditional positions. Despite women making up nearly 50% of the population, less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. 

Hena: Look at how you advertise tech roles. Create gender-neutral job descriptions and avoid buzzwords that can be seen as aggressive, as this is likely to dissuade women from applying. Once applicants are through the doors, foster a sense of belonging in your teams and encourage opportunities for promotion within the organisation.  

A lot of organisations have done work to create women in tech support groups so women can support, brainstorm and uplift each other. Whilst I think this is a great idea, many women would be liked to be recognised for who they are and the skills they have not the sex they are.   

Emma: Being adaptive and flexible will encourage more inclusivity and diversity in the tech industry. I think having a general understanding of other people’s needs is important, everyone is different, and a set of rules for ones doesn’t mean they will work for others.   

What advice would you give young women interested in pursuing a career in tech but may feel discouraged or intimidated by the lack of gender diversity in the industry? 

Lori: Believe! If you are passionate about working in tech, believe in yourself first. Believe in change, and be a change maker. Get experience wherever and whenever you can, and network with other women who will also lift you and connect you with opportunities for learning and career advancement.  Above all, do not be discouraged – if you are disrespected and cannot change the tone where you are, change where you are, and you will be effecting a retroactive change that will help those that come after.  Accept the hand and advice of women who are on the journey, and then extend your hand to those who come after you.  Encourage young women and girls to believe in themselves and to pursue as much technical experience and training as they enjoy.  Enjoying what you do is half the battle.  Believing that you belong to the other half. 

MK: Reach out to other women in tech and ask them for advice.  Ask what things that have worked for them but also what things didn’t work.  People are like google- a wealth of knowledge.  Take what they say to heart and continue using it while you build your career.  Don’t be afraid to ask for something.  The worst answer you will get is no, which usually means speaking to the wrong person.  Don’t settle for no.  Find someone willing to help you.    

Hena: I recall the wise words of my daughter’s headmistress, who encouraged the girls in their early years always to strive to do their best, regardless of gender. This is a lesson that applies to all aspects of life. Here are some tips for professional growth and success: 

  • Find a mentor who you respect, and you can bounce ideas off 
  • Always look for ways to enhance your professional development, both doing tasks you need to do and also things you are passionate about. IT is always changing, so keep your skills fresh, which will help you stay ahead. 
  • Confidence is key to any role. You are just as good as anyone else in the room, so go ahead and command the room where required but also sit back and watch and learn from those you admire and also those you don’t admire 
  • Work for a company that aligns with your values. You will enjoy going to work and feel proud to represent your company. 
  • Learn to build strong connections with both your colleagues and your customers. 
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. As women, we often feel we need to be seen as doing more but learn to work smart, not hard, all the time. 

Emma: I think some people see the word Tech and do not understand what roles are included as part of the ‘tech industry’.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you must be a technical expert in a certain field to work in IT.  Please don’t be discouraged. So many roles within the industry aren’t as technical as others. Also, find a company willing to support your growth as an individual that sees your talent first. 

Who are some women in tech that you admire, and why? 

Aman: Anne Sheehan was one woman who wowed me whilst I worked at Vodafone UK.  When she was the CEO of Vodafone UK, she was presenting an All Hands at the Vodafone Head Office, and she set the stage on fire – she captivated her audience and left me feeling proud and proud and valued. She captured people’s attention by walking into a room; her presence and aura is what I strive to have.  

Lori: I will start with one of the reasons I joined Xalient, our own Sherry Vaswani’s passion, focus, heart and encouragement for other women to “never stop learning and challenging”, and she is a model for all women in tech.  I also admire other women I work with, Emilee Khalil, for her tireless dedication, always putting the customer first, and always with kindness, genuine interest and concern for those she works with. Liz Wright for her amazing technical knowledge combined with a rare sense of humour and ability to put people at ease, support her team and take care of challenging customers all in one fell swoop.  For her lightning-fast mind and technical skills, Lucy Price is always ready to help her team and answer questions. Hazel DePippa for her incredible organization and attention to detail and process.  All the women I’ve met at Xalient are my heroes, and I’m so lucky to work with them.  Outside of Xalient, several women have blazed new trails as leaders in tech, like Jennifer Morgan, former CEO at SAP; Ruth Porat, the CFO of Alphabet; Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and others who have stayed the course and made a mark in the tech industry.  But my truest heroes are honestly the ones at Xalient who make my work life the best I’ve found yet!  

Akshayata: I admire so many women in tech; it’s hard to choose just a few! Of course, some big names in the industry immediately come to mind, but I also have the privilege of knowing and learning from some amazing women leaders right in my backyard. 

Donna Moor, for example, has been an incredible mentor to me since I joined Xalient. Her leadership style is inspiring, and I strive to follow in her footsteps. And then, of course, there is our CEO Sherry, whose work significantly contributes to the tech industry and positively impacts the field. I have a great deal of respect for the work that she’s doing and the example that she’s setting for women in tech everywhere. 

Hena: Throughout my career, I have looked at mentors, customers and suppliers and attributes I wanted to emulate as I had learnt a lot from them, which helped enhance me. 

Saying that, within Xalient, we are fortunate to be led by a forward-thinking woman CEO Sherry Vaswani, who is also supported by a number of amazing women on her board. Sherry has created and fostered the Xalient ethos, where we genuinely care about making a difference. We stand on our merits to ensure that our company culture is always about inclusion and diversity, no matter what race, religion or sex you are.  

Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity, announces the appointment of two new business directors to its senior leadership team. The addition of David Bowes as Chief People Officer and Dorota Gibiino as Director of Marketing demonstrates the company’s commitment to driving growth and strengthening its global brand.

David Bowes brings over 20 years of experience in high-growth IT businesses to his new role as Chief People Officer, having previously worked as CPO at Phlexglobal, TalentFit, and WDS.

“Xalient’s focus on employee well-being and development is what attracted me to join the team,” said David. “I’m excited to lead the people strategy and ensure Xalient continues to be a great place to work.”

Dorota Gibiino, based in the UK, joins Xalient as Director of Marketing to support the company’s ambitious expansion plans and global growth, especially in the USA. She brings a wealth of experience, having held senior marketing positions at Node4, Centiq, and Primenet Ltd.

“I’m thrilled to join Xalient and help build on the company’s success in delivering innovative and reliable IT services to clients around the world,” said Dorota. “My focus will be on leveraging Xalient’s unique value proposition and expanding its reach in key markets, ensuring our customers receive the best possible experience and outcomes.”

“We are thrilled to welcome David and Dorota to our senior leadership team,” said Sherry Vaswani, CEO of Xalient. “Their extensive experience and expertise will be invaluable in driving Xalient’s growth strategy forward. We are confident that their leadership will help us continue to focus on our employees’ well-being and development and strengthen our global brand, making Xalient the go-to provider for managed IT services.”

Xalient has experienced rapid growth in recent years, receiving recognition from both the Sunday Times Hundred 2022 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies and the FEBE Growth 100 list, which champions Britain’s fastest-growing, founder-led private companies. This success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Xalient team. As Xalient looks to the future, they are committed to continued growth and success, building on their achievements and striving to be at the forefront of their industry.

Having driven her IT firm Xalient to No 40 on The Sunday Times 100 list – of which Vodafone Business is an event sponsor – founder Sherry Vaswani is now hoping her success will inspire other women to join the industry.

Sherry Vaswani had been thinking about Xalient, a developer of software that enables staff based anywhere to securely access systems and collaborative working tools, for three years before she was able to turn her vision into reality.

Vaswani, above, was restricted from starting a new business under a non-compete clause imposed after selling her previous company. She waited less than a day after it expired before incorporating Xalient in 2015.

“During that period, although I was working in a non-competitive sector, I stayed in tech,” says Vaswani, 49. “I spotted a trend for companies moving their applications to the cloud, and more people working remotely, both of which needed to be done securely. Network security is my area and I could see it would be transformative.”

She wasn’t wrong. The surging demand for greater digital security amid the growing threat of cyberattacks and the rise of home working has pushed Xalient to annual sales growth of 84.45 per cent over the past three years. Coupled with revenue of £26.3 million in 2021, that growth saw Xalient ranked 40th in The Sunday Times 100 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies, of which Vodafone Business is an event sponsor.

‘This was a chance to build a business that’s a really credible alternative to the sector’s big boys’

Vodafone Business also helps companies grow, and recently launched Vodafone Pulse Connect. It’s a flexible mobile, broadband and cloud calling package with just one bill that lets you add or remove users and tailor services to each employee, so you only pay for what you need.*

And Vodafone Pulse Connect also helps protect companies. Its plans include Lookout Security for Small Business**, providing mobile security and identity protection. The broadband package includes Cisco Meraki’s security and wi-fi device, which updates automatically to ensure you’ve got the latest protection, prevents unauthorised employees from accessing your network, and protects against malicious files; as well as Cisco Meraki Smart Cameras to deter criminal activity, detect threats and provide useful insights into on-site behaviour.

Xalient now employs 180 people in four countries – Britain, the United States, India and Romania – and continues to expand its workforce, with a particular eye on the US, where Vaswani sees the greatest potential for growth. Xalient caters for large global corporations that need to connect their network users and devices to apps and data, securely and efficiently.

“These companies were all very frustrated with the large outsourcers and traditional players who were dominating the network security market but were not very agile and not very focused on the customer,” Vaswani says. “So I thought, this is a chance to build a business that is completely going to challenge that norm and be a really credible alternative to those big boys.”

‘Showing that women can be leaders in the tech business can have a huge impact’

And with hybrid working becoming the norm, companies will need to continue to secure their networks to accommodate remote workers while remaining resilient to cyberattacks.

“Network security approaches used to assume users sit in offices and that you firewall the office, or that you’re logged on through a VPN tunnel and therefore you’re secure,” says Vaswani. “Even pre-Covid, that was an issue. There were big high-profile malware security incidents that proved this approach was not robust enough.”

Xalient takes what it calls a “zero trust” verification approach to securing a user’s devices, which reduces the risk of hackers penetrating a company’s systems. Covid accelerated a trend for home working that was already gathering momentum, increasing an already pressing need for businesses to ensure they have their cyberdefences in good shape.

“Businesses should be very concerned about cyberthreats, especially those companies that are a bit behind on carrying out their assessments,” says Vaswani. “I think large businesses have been concerned for a while, but medium sized businesses are realising they are targets just as much as the large ones. Every business knows there is a threat there.”

As well as focusing on the US market, which accounted for around half of Xalient’s revenue in 2021, Vaswani is looking to invest in more talent and innovation to ensure the business remains at the forefront of network security.

All Xalient’s new products are given female names such as Wanda, Iris, Sona and Martina, reflecting Vaswani’s belief in the importance of increasing diversity – especially the representation of women – in the technology industry.

“I have more of a stage than I realised,” she says. “I recognise there’s an opportunity to help with bringing more women into tech and creating a more diverse society.

“I didn’t used to think that was something I could affect, but I now realise I can. This helps bring the best people into your business. Showing that women can be leaders can have a huge impact.”

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

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background? 

I have over 25 years of experience working in technology and professional services and have had the great privilege to work for some large managed providers in the public and private sectors.

My early career started as a Technical Consultant, where I was an SQL DBA and Microsoft Certified Engineer. I then moved into Networking Solutions and, over time, to Project Management – where I honed my skills in Customer Delivery.

I have since managed various projects, programmes, and professional service teams, that have enabled me to develop my skills and knowledge, I pride myself on my ability to work with any customer to achieve the best possible outcomes.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

I heard of Xalient in its earlier days through close colleagues as a young, ambitious, forward-thinking organisation willing to take risks to win in the market against the larger MSPs, Putting Xalient on my radar for a possible future career move, and luckily that opportunity came up this year – which I jumped at the chance!

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

I’m very privileged to work from home, allowing me to have a good work/life balance most of the time. Usually, I start my day with a pot of coffee, a quick walk with the dog, check my emails, and then see my daughter off to school. I then sit down at my home office, ready to start the day.

I think it’s important to maintain some boundaries when working from home, so I ensure I have my dedicated work area, which helps me switch off at the end of the day.

And what does the average day look like for you? 

As a Programme Manager, much of my time is spent managing customer expectations. It takes the form of many communication channels to continuously try and maintain good communication with our internal teams and customer stakeholders, intending to finish the day having made steps forward in delivering our objectives and ensuring that everybody is informed and working on the same priorities.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I would think a lot of people would describe me as a self-starter, strong, independent, who knows what is required to get decisions made quickly. I hope my colleagues appreciate my role as the conduit to our customers, trying to get the best outcomes at all times to deliver on time and budget for their desired quality outcomes.

What do you like most about your job?

I am proud to be part of the Xalient team. Xalient does an excellent job of delivering quality outcomes, and I enjoy our ability to support our customers through change. I feel I have the right level of autonomy to get the job done.

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

I spend most evenings on our sofa or out at the cinema watching the latest horror movie with my wife, Helen. On weekends I enjoy getting out and spending time with my family doing various sports, including scuba diving, canoeing, mountain biking and archery.

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

Over the past 12 months, I realised happiness and a good work-life balance is key. It’s important to enjoy doing the job you do and doing it well and waking up on a Monday morning raring to go! Since joining Xalient 5 months ago, I have had a real passion for working again.

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

I think I’ve been privileged to have lived in the technology era and seen the birth of the Internet and mobile phones. It’s incredible to see where we are now with everything you need on a smartphone or on a watch! I’ve always enjoyed being at the forefront of gadgets and tech. However, I’d have to say I think I could live without social media. Talking to people is an art we are losing as time goes on. That said, I don’t think I could live without my sporting equipment either. Not being able to get out for a mountain bike ride or go canoeing would be challenging for me.

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

Entrepreneurs fascinate me by being bold and brave enough to risk and gamble their own money on their ideas and sometimes win and sometimes lose, but learn from it and do it again. I can think of a number of these people that most of us would probably quote as inspiring Gates, Branson, Musk etc. and our very own CEO, Sherry Vaswani.

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

I frown a lot, not because I am cross but thinking!

Tell us something people might not know about you. 

I’m dyslexic, and whilst I find it very frustrating sometimes, it’s also been a bit of a superpower.

In my earlier career, I hid it a lot from people, but now I have a different perspective, as it gives me a different perspective that adds colour to the team.

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our HR Officers, Jarah, to learn a little more about her and her role at Xalient.

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

I started working in the Hospitality industry when I was a teenager. I studied hospitality management and worked in hotels for several years before moving to the UK. When I was approached by a recruiter about an HR position four years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I am thrilled I made the jump. 

I started at Xalient on a temporary contract to cover paternity leave, and luckily they could offer me a permanent role as an HR officer. My primary responsibilities are improving our companies’ policies and procedures and ensuring we remain compliant. I also really enjoy working on projects like our Culture and Inclusion Program, the Green Team and being on the CSR committee.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

What attracted me to Xalient was the culture and the people. It was really important for me to work for a company that values its employees, especially as someone working in HR.  

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

It’s pretty much a shower, breakfast, and out the door. I do enjoy listening to a podcast on the way to work.  

What do you like most about your job?

My head is always full of ideas. I like that at Xalient, I get the opportunity to explore new ways of working and improving the workplace. 

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

I would start a doggy daycare and be surrounded by dogs all day. Or, more realistically, I would probably work in a hotel or do something in events. 

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

Like many others, I can spend hours mindlessly scrolling through social media. So, I try to take regular breaks by deleting the apps for a few weeks or months. That way, I can be more present and focus on doing things I actually enjoy. 

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

My parents always encouraged me to find a job I love and not focus on money or status. It took a few tries, but I think I’m doing pretty well.

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

A picture of me was once displayed in a museum as part of an art exhibition.  

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Security Support Engineers, Marius Dinu, 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?

Before Xalient, I worked with Okta Support for around four years, so it naturally made sense to work within a Cloud Security Engineer role here at Xalient.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

The Xalient culture and the people working here are fantastic, making the role more appealing.

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

I ensure I have a big cup of coffee next to me throughout the morning.

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

I usually start the day by organising the tasks for the day, selecting the top 3 most important, and focusing on those before getting to anything else.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I think they would say I’m outgoing, sociable and very funny (my words, they wouldn’t probably admit it)

What do you like most about your job?

The relaxed environment allows me to thrive and be productive every day.

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

Probably caring for otters at the zoo!

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

I like going for a swim, watching or playing football or playing video games.

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

It has to be my AirPods. I can’t go anywhere without my music.

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

I’m trying my best to take inspiration from everything around me, not just from a particular source.

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

I can understand different languages (more or less) without knowing or speaking them.

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 😊