Sharan Kambo

Security isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you think of BT, but when it comes to keeping everyone safely connected, ‘We Are The Protectors’. We caught up with Sharan to learn about her role in the Sikh Network and how she’s been supported by her team whilst on the graduate scheme.

What does a cyber security sales specialist do?

We protect businesses, organisations and customers of all types on the internet. My role takes many forms. I speak to a variety of different stakeholders daily. That makes my job very exciting because I get to meet new people all the time! As a cyber security specialist, we liaise with account managers, numerous vendors, distributors, as well as the customer. Some interesting responsibilities we have include getting up to date with the latest solutions on the market, understanding market trends and most importantly speaking to customers about how they are securing their network.

There’s always training! As part of my role, I need to know my stuff. I don’t originate from a technical background, and BT equips us with the relevant training to ensure we have the tech know-how, to have intelligent conversations with our customers. 

How do you help keep customers safe online?

At BT, we connect people for good. We also want to ensure our customers are connected securely. In Security we ensure our customers are aware of the threat landscape and the growing digital world – so that they are informed of any gaps on their IT estate. We offer customers a whole variety of solutions, from firewalls, endpoint protection, secure private access networks to cloud security and managing the customers security estate.

The cyber industry is facing a huge skills shortage at present, however, we have over three thousand security experts. This alleviates the pressure off our customers to be security specialists – we can do that for them. 

How did you land a role in the cyber security space, after university?

After uni, I spent two years travelling because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Those two years helped me find areas of interest, which I realised included speaking to people and working to targets. After I returned from my travels, I landed a job in a charity, which I absolutely enjoyed. However, I wasn’t being challenged enough. I felt like I had more to give, so I applied to a hand full of grad schemes, specifically for Sales, and BT was one of them.

I’d not done psychometric tests or a grad scheme interview, let alone an assessment centre in years! I really felt out of my depth. So, I applied to other jobs, that I had no interest in taking on, to brush up on my interview skills. I also reached out, on LinkedIn, to current BT Grads, to get an idea of whether the company was the right place for me and to further understand the application process from a candidate’s point of view. I also read BT blogs – as you’re doing know – and looked on BT’s social media platforms, to understand why so many people worked there. What I found really resonated with me, and I knew it would be the right fit for me. 

Your graduate scheme started off in Manchester, but you relocated to Birmingham, how was the transition?

I spent my first year in Manchester, a city I’d only ever visited once for a festival, so I didn’t know much about the place. For me, it was a new city, new people, I didn’t have any friends or family there; it was truly a fresh start.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one in this position. Most people on the grad scheme relocate for their role, so we were all in the same boat. During the induction, you meet everyone on the cohort, regardless of location. So, when I transitioned to the Birmingham office, I already knew some familiar faces! I got myself added to the relevant group chats and made sure I was on the Birmingham Grad social mailing list. This was useful as I made sure to take part in the social events, which further helped me meet more people in the Birmingham office. These types of events take place in all our locations where Grads are present. 

As a graduate you’ve had the opportunity to work with high profile customers, did you expect to have this kind of responsibility so early on in your role?

Absolutely not. From day one you are treated just like everyone else. Unless you mention you’re a grad to a colleague, they wouldn’t know. BT wants to retain as many grads as possible, therefore you are exposed to high profile customers and brands from the get-go. You feel pressure, but it’s the good kind, it’s exciting. It’s important to mention, you’re not left on your own. I was paired with a grad who was a couple of years above me, so she helped me resolve any issues and supported me with any questions I had. 

You’re part of our internal Sikh network, why do you feel it is important for you to represent the Sikh community within the business?

When I joined BT, one of the things I looked for was to work for an organisation who truly played an active role in embedding diversity and inclusion into its work practices. Moving to Manchester was a huge step for me, because the Sikh community in Manchester is very small, compared to what I am used to in the Midlands. As a result, there wasn’t a lot of representation in the office, so I joined the internal Sikh Network and became that representation in the office. I organised many events for people in the office to get involved in, including events during Bandi Chorr Divas/Diwali and Vaisakhi. As result of this, more and more people wanted to engage with the network and understand what these festivals meant for the Sikh community.

BT provides the platform for people to share their culture, background, and beliefs; however, it is up to you to be proactive with these opportunities. For example, I was able to take part in a nationwide EE campaign called “Faith on Film”, which was used across all social media platforms to show the representation within BT Group. The campaign ended up being a huge success and went on to win an award, which I got the opportunity to attend at the BT Studios in London – and got to meet Claudia Winkleman! Taking part in this opportunity ended up opening many doors for me, and I am now the Graduate and Apprentice Lead for the Sikh Network. 

You recently took some time to recharge, how did your team support that, and what did you get up to?

Work-life balance is highly promoted at BT. So, when I started to feel myself wearing out and in need of a break, I took a week off work and flew to Italy. This plan was very last minute; however, my manager was very supportive of my decision. All he asked was that I ensured any necessary tasks I had pending were complete before I left, and that there was someone to cover me whilst I was away – which there was. I then spent the week in Verona, Milan and Lake Como, eating as much pistachio gelato and pasta as I could, before returning back to my team.

At BT Group, there are many initiatives and spaces to ensure everyone feels looked after. From the various spaces within the offices, to the Peer-to-Peer network, to the most recent Wellbeing Walks initiative, which encourages various teams to take a walk or get some exercise, during working hours, on a Friday, there’s something for everyone.

The company is aware that, for it to be successful, the working environment needs to be a welcoming and enjoyable place to be. 

More colleague stories