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In Her Shoes | Purdey Miles, Sales Lead, Xchanging

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Purdey MilesI grew up in a pretty town in South Oxfordshire, Henley – on – Thames and went to an all-girls school just outside of Oxford, that’s where I encountered my first role models and they really pushed us to focus on our careers. I then went on to study Archaeology at The University of Cardiff which (to some) seems a little unrelated to what I am doing now but it set the foundations for the transferrable skills which I use today – not to mention is super interesting and I loved it.

I think you should always be interested in what you’re doing because that’s how you excel. Following graduation, I felt a little overwhelmed by what career to choose. I knew I didn’t want to become an Archaeologist and wanted to work in business,

I had a passion for sales and wanted to be in the City – so I started in headhunting for the technology industry. I chose technology because it’s something I’ve always had a passion for, it’s fascinating how technology under pin’s every aspect of our lives. Following my role as a head-hunter I moved into Marketing and PR for technology. Even though the work was exciting and interesting I missed the sales aspect, so I joined Xchanging in an inside sales role for technology. I worked tirelessly in London both internally with my colleagues and externally with clients and prospects and established a name for myself– which worked because within a year I was promoted to a Sales Lead in Singapore.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

When I was in London I used to either to run or cycle to work but here in Singapore it’s a little too hot for that (even in the morning!) so I head to the gym for a class or a solo workout. Exercise in the morning is great for you because it allows you to clear your mind before you walk into the office – plus it just generally makes you feel good about yourself. In the evenings I tend to be networking in the city for work and pleasure – I love meeting people.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never did, but recently I’ve been looking at leaders in technology and looking into their backgrounds and career paths – which has been very insightful to me.

What do you love about working for Xchanging?

I love how it’s always changing, there’s always something new around the corner whether it’s a new project we’ve won or a new customer. The colleagues and bosses I have are fantastic as they provide me the support and leadership to inspire me.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

When I first moved to Singapore I found it very different to London. The first thing that hits you is the heat, all year round in Singapore it’s typically between 27 degrees and 33 degrees. However there were many other things than just the heat. It was the culture and the way people do business which was new to me as well – things differ depending on where your colleagues and customers are from in the World. With the different cultures and nationalities brings multiple languages which can also be a challenge, but an exciting one. In Singapore the people you work with, whether its co-workers, partners or clients differ drastically – Singapore has it all from Indians to Koreans and Australians to the Chinese.

One of the things that I have learnt is how much people appreciate it if you show an interest in where they are from and their culture. For example, in the office I work with mainly Indians so I would get involved in their festivals like Diwali, on this occasion we celebrated it with traditional music, dancing and food. By throwing myself into these celebrations it enabled me to form deeper bonds with my colleagues and also feel part of a very special team. Similarly, one of my partners and many of my customers have large Singaporean work forces so with them they appreciate it when I would explore the flavours of the region at lunch in local Hawker Markets.

In London the lunchtime norm is to grab a Sandwich from Pret, wolf it down behind your screen within 15 minutes and hope that no one interrupts you. In contrast, in Singapore, lunch time is the opportunity to bond over Korean bibimbap, Singaporean Chicken Rice or a bowl of Chinese Yong tau foo. Additionally it’s always good to study up on the countries of the people you work with and your customers, as well as maybe learn a few words in their mother tongue. This again helps you build a stronger rapport with people and also helps you to understand more about the world as well. Whenever I encountered cultural challenges I would seek advice from the experienced team members I work with and also tried my hardest to get involved in the culture of Singapore. I spend my weekends going to different events and festivals to learn about the different cultures. Singapore is a melting pot of all cultures, so there is a lot to learn, which is very fun.

How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

From the day I arrived there have been fantastic bosses and colleagues who have been there every step of the way to support me and help me be the best version of myself.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

YES – I think networking is one of the best things you can do! It’s great to build your network for business so you have more contacts but also for personal development, it’s one of the best things you can do. Meet as many people as you can. When I’m not with customers, I spend my time at events, workshops and networking within my business at employee events.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?

Network internally within your business – when you walk into your office you should know what each person does, it makes it much easier and quicker to collaborate with your colleagues when you’ve already built a rapport. By understanding what you’re colleagues do it also shows that you have pride in what your company is delivering and helps you to explain to clients what value your company can bring. Networking externally with communities who work in the same industry has increased my knowledge of solutions and offerings and the value that they bring to our customers. I would also advise thinking about long term and short term goals, for example you might have ambitious long term goals, but you should not lose focus on the short term goals in the meantime. It’s important to have both and manage them together in order to achieve the best result.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career similar to you?

Start work experience as young as you can – sales is a transferable skill so the more work experience you get the better. Make sure you choose an industry you are interested in because the people who do the best are the people who are interested in what they do.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to be in a leadership role within a leading technology company. I look at the likes of female technology leaders like Meg Whitman (CEO of HPE) and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook), for example and see how these women have achieved so much in their careers, kept stamina and not lost focus.

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