Blog

Ask the Graduate: Technical Account Manager at Microsoft

RO Central Team - Thursday, February 27, 2020
Posted 3 months ago

 

March

Day In The Life: Bianca Caravtov- Technical Account Manager at Microsoft 


 

Before I immerse you into my world and what a day in my life looks like since graduating, let's give you a bit of background on who I am and put a 'digital' face to the name.

I graduated from Warwick University with a Law and Sociology Qualifying degree with an intercalated year abroad in Hong Kong (a mouthful, I know)! My journey through university and out of it was not typical and that's an important thing to keep in mind as you embark on your own journeys. While you might start in one place and have a certain life path in mind, things can change along the way. My biggest tip for you all is to keep an open mind and be adaptable as you progress through university.

As you may already know, there are no specific requirements for A-level subjects when applying to study Law. I opted for subjects that interested me, namely Psychology, Sociology and English Language, walking away with A*AA grades. Although I initially applied for a straight Law degree, Warwick emailed me asking whether I wanted to study a qualifying joint honours degree instead. This essentially changed the degree from 3 to 4 years to integrate Sociology and subsequently 5 years by adding the exchange year abroad. I knew I wanted to stay in higher education for as long as possible and found Sociology a great match and balance to Law, therefore the decision was relatively easy. A few years on I still think it was a great choice!

I joined Warwick with a clear idea of wanting to be a corporate solicitor specialising in IP law but after becoming the President of the Commercial Law Society and doing numerous internships, insight days and vacation schemes across 5 years, I categorically decided during my year abroad that I did not want to be a lawyer anymore. While in Hong Kong, my interest shifting towards Technology, specifically focusing on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and it became the profession I wanted to enter instead.

This is where my life path took me to Microsoft. Making the decision to transition away from Law wasn't easy but it was definitely worth it. I have been working as a Technical Account Manager at Microsoft since September and can confidently say I made the best decision (...for me). Over the past 4 months I have travelled to Munich for training, been given my own accounts to manage from the onset and have been surrounded by a fantastic support system.

At a glance, my role is to manage the relationship between my designated accounts and the Microsoft global resource teams; ensuring the customers are utilising our technology at its optimum by creating bespoke service delivery plans and anticipating their business needs as well as overcoming technical challenges by working with the wider Microsoft team. The majority of my customers are in the retail industry, for instance high street brands. Although I have a defined role within the organisation, I am able to bring in my own interests into my daily job, for instance through being the Data and AI lead for my team, whereby I am able to share my knowledge with others. My average day ranges from being in the office (either the headquarters in Reading or the London office) if I have face to face meetings with my team, being on customer site which depending on your portfolio can be anywhere in England, or attending training events both nationally and internationally. One of the best parts of the role is that I am trusted to manage my time however I wish to, with the possibility of working from home or remotely whenever I am not needed in the office in person. If I am in the office, the majority of my day is spent in meetings with colleagues (most of which tend to be relaxed coffee conversations), on calls with my account teams (some of which are based in Europe and the US) or working on strategic plans for my customers. There are no

expectations on strict working hours so unless there is an urgent escalation, the majority of people tend to work from 9am-5:30pm.

Throughout your career at Microsoft, regardless of your tenure, you are encouraged to continue your learning and are supported in setting time aside to do so regularly, with designated learning days and mentors who support you through your career progression. One of the key reasons why I decided to join Microsoft was that the expectation is not that you should know the answer to everything, but that you are willing to learn as technology adapts and changes with time. I am surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds daily who a willing to share their knowledge, which is incredibly exciting! I tend to set aside a few hours a week to update my knowledge on the latest technology developments and meet people in the organisation who have different roles, learning more about what they do and how it fits with my own role.

I am happy to answer any questions you have about my path through university, navigating working life or anything else I haven't covered above.

Bianca

 

 

Questions and Answers

 1) How does a Sociology degree complement a Law degree and how does a joint honours degree work?

 Sociology allowed me to view law in the broader social context and how it fits in and is influenced by other things that we often overlook, which also gave me an insight into its flaws when it comes to the criminal justice system for instance. I found that a lot of my knowledge on both sides of the degree could be used cross academically to strengthen my point (with legal facts on the sociology side and background context on the law side).

So with a joint honours degree you are essentially part of both the Law department and the Sociology department. The 'average' law degree is three years long but to incorporate the added sociology classes, your degree is turned into 4 years. Across the 4 years you would have to complete the core modules in both subjects, particularly with Law in order to obtain a Qualifying Law degree which is very important if you plan on being a barrister or solicitor. In addition, you will have a choice of several optional modules across your university degree from a pre approved department list but the majority of your degree will be comprised of core modules on both sides. Bare in mind this may vary across universities.

2) What was it like being in Hong Kong and how long were you there for? Did you go with other students from your course/uni and were you supported by your uni when you were there?

 I was in Hong Kong for a year as part of my degree and went back for 6 weeks the following summer for another quick university project. To this day it remains the BEST year of my life. From an educational standpoint I was able to take modules that were not available in the UK on Artificial Intelligence and Technology Law ( which eventually brought me to where I am today) and be part of a completely different education system that was nothing like I had experienced in the UK. More importantly, it gave me a view of the world that I didn't have before- I travelled to 13 countries in 12 months and as big of a cliché as this will sound, I came back a different person. I would highly encourage anyone to take a year abroad, it's truly an amazing experience! I could go on and on but to not make this a huge paragraph, if you're interested to read more about my experience abroad have a look at this (I'll be updating the website with a few more stories over the coming months now that we have a bit more time) www.thewanderinglawstudent.co.uk

To answer your second question, I initially went by myself and then came across other students from Warwick. I found that as hard as it initially is to be by yourself in a new country and culture, I valued not being around anyone from Warwick for the first few months as it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people (some of which remain close friends now). It felt like first year of university all over again ! In terms of support, Hong Kong University had great social activities for exchange students in the first few weeks and Warwick was available to help if I had any issues (which luckily I never had to take advantage of).

3) Did you have to pay to do your year out in Hong Kong, or did the university pay for it?

 This varies across universities depending on what agreement they have with other institutions abroad. In my case, I paid a reduced fee of a little over £1000 instead of the usual £9000 per year fees we have here. Also important to note is that you are responsible for your accommodation / living costs but there are usually bursaries and plenty of support to help you manage this.

4) I’m interested in doing a year abroad but I don’t speak another language, can I still do one?

 The simple answer is 'it depends' both across courses and universities. At Warwick for examples there are joint honours degrees such as 'Law with French Law' whereby as part of your degree you would have language classes and would need to speak the language of the host country to a proficient level as your lectures would be in French as well as English.

But, there are other degrees like a general 'Law with a year abroad' such as mine where that isn't a pre-requisite. I didn't need to speak Mandarin to do my year abroad and all my classes in Hong Kong were taught in English. So yes, depending on your university and choice of degree you should be able to do one.

5) How did you get your job with Microsoft? Was it very competitive?

 I initially came across an 'AI at Microsoft' day aimed at university students by accident on social media so applied for that as I was interested in AI Law at that point. After attending, I realised I had found the place I wanted to work at so applied, thinking I didn't stand a chance of getting the job as I had the misconception that you had to be a certain type of person or have a background in computer science to work in tech ( which is definitely not the case !!).

The application process was a combination of writing a cover letter, CV, skype interview and an assessment day with further interviews and team challenges. It definitely wasn't easy and it took quite a lot of preparation but I found the actual interviews quite enjoyable as I was talking about things that genuinely interested me.

6) What made you change your mind about being a lawyer?

 To be honest, the first time I realised I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore was towards the end of my degree. I was asked in an interview why I wanted to be a solicitor and upon reflection came to the conclusion that I didn't mean what I said to the interviewer.I was so familiar with the perfectly rehearsed answer and following the steps all other law students were taking in my year that I forgot to ask myself if this is what I wanted anymore.

My biggest worry in changing my path was how much time and work I had put into building a foundation to become a lawyer ( Pathways to Law in secondary school,5 years of law at university, internships, society work as the President of the Commercial Law society, etc..).

It felt scary to gamble it all and move away from it but I knew the thought of being a lawyer just didn't make me excited anymore and my priorities in life had shifted between secondary school when I wanted to be a corporate solicitor to final year at Warwick.

What it ultimately came down to were two things:

1.I wanted to specialise in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning which was, and still is in its infancy within the legal industry, so wasn't possible.

2.After my year abroad, travelling and working remotely became a big part of what makes me happy so I wanted a job where I could work from different countries as often as possible. This is which is a lot easier in the tech industry than in law for a number of reasons.

My biggest advice to you is to be adaptable and reflect on how you feel every year. It's ok to change your mind and want to do something else. A law degree ( or any degree for that matter) has transferable skills that you can apply to any industry so will be a good foundation regardless of whether you decide to join that industry or not.