E76 - Mark Ellis at CDW

Jack Haine
Mark Ellis

By Jack Haine & Mark Ellis

On today’s episode of The Route to Networking podcast, one of our Principal Infrastructure & Cloud Consultants on the Contract team, Jack Haine sat down with Mark Ellis, the Consultancy Manager at CDW. For the last 4 years, Mark has been at the forefront of some incredible services CDW has to offer. He talks us through what it takes to become a good leader and the importance of understanding the difference between a manager and a leader.

Mark left school as soon as he could as school and education weren’t his forte. He got himself a job at McDonald’s flipping burgers, which he was pretty good at, so much so that he had his first experience in management there. After a few years, he started to get bored, so he went back to college to get some A levels in Archaeology, Philosophy and History. When he was doing his Archaeology course, he worked with a professor, and he needed someone to work on the computers to look at the data. This is ultimately where his interest in computers started.

He got his A levels and moved into a job at a company called Tempo working in their computer department. From there, he went to a company as their software expert on their hardware team and then the rest was history. He knew at this point he needed certifications to progress any further, so he started as a Microsoft expert and then went and did the VMware and Cisco certs.

Falling into management…

A lot of people grow up and have that management mindset where they work towards being a leader. Mark, describes his experience as falling into management. There was a team lead role available, and they said to him that he will be good at it, so he just took the bull by the horns and did it.

“59% of tech companies no longer require degrees and I’m absolutely in support of that.”

If you’re taking a tech-based role or anything that’s fast pace and fast-moving, he hasn’t seen a massive benefit to a university degree. There’s no requirement at CDW, there never has been since he has been there. The most senior staff he’s seen, who have done really well, none of them have degrees. What they do have though is far more relevant and up-to-date skills and knowledge, which they’ve gained on the job working at vendors etc.

When it comes to management, there’s a thin line between someone who manages and somebody who leads. In any industry where you’re working with people who are driven, people don’t need to be managed. You need someone who will take away all the pain and the nonsense that wastes your time so you can just get on and do the job and be innovative.

With an industry that is constantly evolving, it’s impossible to keep up. Mark is seeing a huge shift in the WFH model. It’s much bigger than it was, and he prefers it. We now have the tech that’s accelerated, especially though lockdown, that has allowed people to WFH. It’s more about now making sure that people still get together sometimes.

Mark shares his advice with those of you who are looking to start up in the Networking industry. Tune in now to hear it!