Sharp Sales Academy

Sharp's Sales Academy: Graduation

On Thursday 9 May 2024, our 7 Sales Apprentices graduated from our Sales Academy!

In January 2023, we launched a brand new scheme, the Sales Academy. We welcomed 7 new starters into BDE (Business Development Executive) roles whilst they completed their Level 3 Technical Sales Apprenticeship qualifications with Pareto Law.  

The aim of the scheme was to provide graduates with the opportunity to begin their technology sales careers in an organisation that is passionate about their growth and development.  

Fast forward 15 months and they are all graduated and moving into various roles throughout the business. We caught up with the team 3 months into their roles here, and thought it was only right to catch up with them again! 


Sharp Sales Academy

What is your new role in the business?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - My new role is a Junior Solutions Consultant, specialising in Document Management working in conjunction with the solutions department and the account managers.  

Inga Drabble - I am now a Workplace Design Consultant.

Lauren Thompson - My new role within Sharp is a Project Coordinator, specialising in Visual Solutions.

Matthew Hiscock - I have joined the Corporate Team as a BDE.

Max Harrison - My new role is an Internal Sales Account Manager, within the Public Sector team.

Nancy Brand – I am now a BDE in the IT Services team.

Sam Tellwright - I am now a Junior Account Manager.


What 5 words would you use to describe the last 15 months?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Exciting, challenging, new, different, cooperative.  

Inga Drabble - Hectic, engaging, eye-opening, interesting, and fun.

Lauren Thompson - Growth, collaborative, challenging, rewarding, inspirational.

Matthew Hiscock - Exciting, challenging, welcoming, eye-opening.

Max Harrison - New, busy, exciting, growth and learning.

Nancy Brand - Challenging, exciting, educational, well-rounded, sociable.

Sam Tellwright - Challenging, unpredictable, eventful, transformative, memorable.


What has been your proudest moment of your time here at Sharp?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Seeing all my colleagues on the scheme successfully gaining their new roles and everyone progressing their careers.  

Inga Drabble - My proudest moment has to be running a meeting on behalf of the furniture division, introducing what we can achieve, for one of our IT partners.

Lauren Thompson - My proudest moment at Sharp was in the early days of being in the Sales Academy. I remember being anxious about picking up the phone, but I built the confidence to make cold calls to prospects and successfully secured my first meeting for our telephony solutions. It was a significant achievement for me because it was the beginning of growth in my communication skills and allowed me to believe that I can do it regardless of my self-doubt. I’m proud I was able to overcome that fear.

Matthew Hiscock - Being tasked with creating a video for Stuart Sykes to present to Sharp USA on the Virtual Showroom, with a 24-hour turnaround time, and smashing it first go.

Max Harrison - Finding a place in the Public Sector team and given the opportunity to prove myself within the team.

Nancy Brand - Having the opportunity to sit on the Pro-Manchester, Future-Pro Committee alongside my role at Sharp & also passing my PL-900 exam on the first attempt as someone who was new to IT.

Sam Tellwright - I think for me it has been getting the role that I had my eyes on from the start.  


What has been the biggest challenge during your time in the graduate scheme?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Understanding some of the technicalities/jargon associated with some of our software solutions.

Inga Drabble - My biggest challenge has been trusting myself to make the right decisions and having the confidence to speak up when I have ideas and suggestions.

Lauren Thompson - A challenge I faced during my time in the graduate scheme was adapting to a fast paced work environment whist simultaneously learning the technical aspects of Sharp’s product portfolio. Balancing the learning aspect whilst meeting deadlines and expectations pushed me to develop my time management and prioritisation skills.

Matthew Hiscock - Keeping my eye on the prize. Engaging with prospects is never easy. Dialling one more number after your 50th no thank you takes its toll.

Max Harrison - Resilience, keeping going even when things don’t seem to be going too well.

Nancy Brand - Navigating the natural low points that come with a career in sales and learning to balance these out with the high points.

Sam Tellwright - I think the biggest challenge for me was moving from the Sales Academy to a Junior Account Manager as there is so much more to learn and you have to manage your time correctly.  


What do you consider the most important skill for your new role?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Keeping people interested/enthused about the software solutions and how they can embrace them with their customers.

Inga Drabble - People skills and authenticity.

Lauren Thompson - The most important skill for my new role as project coordinator is 100% effective communication. Clear communication ensures that all my team members are aligned with what is happening with a project, clients are kept informed of any changes, any issues are promptly addressed, and this just keeps the process being productive and smooth.

Matthew Hiscock – Resilience.

Max Harrison - Effort, keep putting in the effort no matter what and the results will come.

Nancy Brand - Perseverance.

Sam Tellwright - Being authentic.


What is one piece of feedback or advice you received during your time in the graduate scheme?  

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Focus on what is in your ‘circle of influence’ and cut out anything that’s not relevant to me.

Inga Drabble - Stop asking questions I already know the answer to and have more confidence in my decisions.

Lauren Thompson - I would say the best advice I received during my time in the graduate scheme was to always embrace continuous learning. Taking this on board, I've realised this will allow me to enhance my skill set and contribute effectively to not only my direct team members but to Sharp as a whole.

Matthew Hiscock - Work backwards. What do you want to achieve? Figure out how you achieve it, figure out how you do that, etc, until you have a starting point. And if you don't know, ask someone who does!

Max Harrison - Failure is not a bad thing, it's just another way of learning.

Nancy Brand - To always be authentic in your work!

Sam Tellwright - Just to be yourself and make sure you turn up giving 110% every time.


What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - What an office job looks like! How to behave and best practices in the workplace. Also, how Sharp clearly value their employees (they have multiple staff members with 50+ years service).

Inga Drabble - That you can learn from all experiences and conversations and continue getting better with everything you do.

Lauren Thompson - My biggest takeaway from this experience would have to be, if you put your mind to it, you can do it! It’s so easy to talk yourself down when you don’t achieve something the first-time round. but by accepting help from others and pulling your socks up, whatever you want to do can be achieved.

Matthew Hiscock - Joining a graduate scheme at 34, it's important to remember that it never too late.

Max Harrison - How much I can learn if I consistently push myself for more.

Nancy Brand - The importance of networking both within and outside of an organisation, particularly in a sales career.

Sam Tellwright - I think that the change from university to work can be quite daunting, but, it really isn’t bad when you enjoy your job and have support from everyone in the business.


What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone who wanted to do a graduate scheme?

Harvey Fitzsimmons - Do it! Even if it might not be your dream job or where you can see yourself in 5 years it’s great for experience and you’ll meet some great people on the journey.

Inga Drabble - Trust yourself and believe you are capable of difficult things - no one wants you to do badly, so always ask for help when you need it.

Lauren Thompson - My advice for anyone who wants to start a career through an apprenticeship/graduate scheme would be to approach with an open mind and be eager to learn. Be ready to take on new tasks and challenges. Don’t worry if its daunting at first. You’ll get through it. Also, embrace feedback and use this to grow and improve. Seek feedback from your colleagues and mentors to identify areas for your development and better your skill set.

Matthew Hiscock - Just do it! Life too short to just want to do something when that time could be spent doing the thing.

Max Harrison - Don’t give up, even if you feel like you're struggling, keep going and there will be a reward at the end.

Nancy Brand - Take an open mindset with you everywhere & apply this to any opportunity that presents itself to you.

Sam Tellwright - Do it! Make sure that you be yourself and aim high.


The scheme was headed up by Rob Fearns, National New Business Manager and Nick Rose, Sales Director.  

Rob puts the success of the scheme down to the individuals, saying, “Because it was something completely new to Sharp, we had the determination to make it a success. None of which I am sure could and would have been achieved without the group of outstanding individuals initially selected.” Speaking of individuals, Nick credits the whole of Sharp, saying “Team members from every department of our business have collaborated to make sure that the program succeeded, and an important element of that success has been to show our academy graduates ‘the Sharp way’. They’ve been supported and made to feel welcome from day one, and they are now starting their lives in new roles with an established internal network, so it doesn’t feel quite as scary as it would have had it not been for that support.”

Speaking on the overall process of the scheme, Nick said, “it was a process that was designed to create a recruitment and onboarding experience that would excite and engage the new recruits. Having wrote the program from scratch, there were some nerves and despite the amount of work that went in, there’s always a chance that things don’t work out.” Rob added, “We wanted to make sure that the graduates stayed on the journey with us and bought in to the whole concept of working for Sharp. We felt it vitally important to keep their role varied and engaging throughout the training process. Thankfully the sales graduates bonded as a group quite quickly which made this a little easier.”  

When asked what their proudest moment of this whole process was, Rob said “My proudest achievement has been delivering seven talented individuals to the business to further their career with Sharp. To start with seven and to complete the process with seven is incredible. We truly have some talented individuals which will benefit Sharp for a long time to come.” Nick backs this up by saying “Every time we’ve taken the team anywhere be it an event or a visit to another office, the feedback about them as individuals has been consistently incredible. From day one they have carried themselves exceptionally, which is why it’s been such a pleasure to have worked so closely with them. Professionally there’s loads to be proud of, but on a personal level I’m most impressed by the work ethic, positivity, and all-round good people that they have shown themselves to be.”  

We are so proud of all the graduates and are thrilled to be following their careers throughout Sharp!