Life moves quickly. One minute you're a fledgling startup, the next you're celebrating the five-year anniversary of key staff members like Max Abramov. Originally from Russia, Max has actually been here for more than five years. What's changed in that time, what's happened to Max, and above all why does he love Ideal? We wanted to find out.
What's your job?
I started as a UC (unified communications) engineer, which was a new area for Ideal. After a couple of years I was promoted to senior UC engineer, which I've been for 2 ½ years. The volume and nature of the work has changed loads. Initially I was just doing projects, but then when we started growing I was doing engagement and pre-sales, then delivery, then support - basically the whole lot. So as the company grew my work grew and became more and more challenging.
What do you do day to day?
These days I work a lot with the solutions director during the initial engagement to understand customer requirements, and create a solution to address them. My typical day could involve working to support a sales bid, designing a solution, or meeting with a customer or a partner, but much of the time I'm working as a project engineer to actually deliver our customer solutions.
What attracted you to Ideal?
(Founding director) Mo Merrick basically made me an offer I couldn't refuse!
Really, Mo sold me on the vision of Ideal as a growing business and a place where I could develop. He took me out to lunch, explained his vision and basically said 'everything will be brilliant'! He was so enthusiastic about what he was doing and what he wanted Ideal to achieve in the future that I became interested and wanted to get on the same journey.
Did he deliver?
How have you developed in your time here?
Professionally I've grown a lot. I was already Cisco-qualified, and now I'm working towards Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) which is pretty much at the top of what we can achieve as engineers. I've gained experience and qualifications with partners including Cisco Meraki and Palo Alto Networks, plus I've travelled all around the UK and Ireland. I've also learned a lot about myself - when I've been under pressure on big, complex projects, I've found an ability to find something extra to get things successfully over the line - the sense of achievement is brilliant.
How has Ideal changed in five years?
As we've grown we've invested a lot in our in-house skills. We're still small enough to be responsive to customer needs, but now we can deliver far bigger and more complex projects. What's changed is we've developed a lot of capability, and brought a lot more highly skilled people into the business.
Not everything is different, though. We still work very closely with longstanding partners like Cisco, and as we grow we're also working with new and exciting companies. I'm enjoying our partnership with ZOOM International, which has really enhanced what we can do in the call centre. As a business Ideal has maybe grown up a bit, but it's still helpful and supportive, and it still helps develop me and everyone who works here.
What keeps you here?
I feel attached to Ideal. It's supportive, but the managers here want to make things better, so they can and do challenge you on things.
I've been able to influence our portfolio, too. Early in my time here I was asked to research different vendors' solutions for BYOD. We wanted to know, for mobile device management, what we could integrate Cisco with, as it had just announced ISE (Identity Services Engine). I found a small company called Meraki, trialled its technology, and a few weeks later Cisco announced it was buying it. Now we're a well-established Cisco Meraki partner.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I can help shape things here - I genuinely feel like I have a say and make a difference. Because of that I feel like it's a company where I live: I'm not going to work, I'm going somewhere where I live. It hasn't always been easy, but I feel like I've been on a development journey that's in-step with Ideal's own trajectory. Now we're both older, wiser, and even better at what we do.
Want to join our growing company? Check out our latest vacancies here.