Liz Beavers is standing in a bright office and smiling into the camera.
Liz Beavers. Image: SolarWinds

Pivoting from public relations to solutions engineering

14 Apr 20202.31k Views

Liz Beavers of SolarWinds discusses her journey to becoming a senior solutions engineer with ITIL training.

Liz Beavers is a senior solutions engineer at US software company SolarWinds, despite having originally planned a career in public relations.

Here, she explains how she arrived at her current role and why she recommends upskilling in information technology infrastructure library (ITIL), a framework for IT service management (ITSM) for standardised best practices.

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How did you arrive at your current role?

Like many of today’s IT professionals, my entry to the tech field was unconventional. I graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and human resource development, fully intending to pursue a career in public relations.

I landed my first job out of college working with a research platform for bankers, accountants, investors and other business professionals, working as a customer success manager. From there, I moved to IT service management solutions provider Samanage (now SolarWinds), where I continued my work on the customer success team.

Having garnered an understanding of the solutions we provided and how it served our customers, I was drawn to the sales engineering side of things. It gave me the best of both worlds, communicating with prospective and existing customers while helping them alleviate pains, work smarter and streamline operations with the aid of our platform.

Today I serve as a SolarWinds senior solutions engineer and lean on my ITIL certifications to provide ITSM best practices to my team and user community. To get here, I recognised that beyond my intimate knowledge of the customer journey, I also needed to heighten not just my technical understanding, but also my industry knowledge to be a trusted resource and advocate.

This pushed me to dive into our solution’s architecture, broaden my knowledge of cloud-based services and truly hone in on best practices that support those technologies. It also highlighted the importance of the security accreditations and certifications we attain.

Why, in your opinion, are IT skills important?

‘Every company is a tech company’ is a common phrase going around right now. While it’s catchy, it’s not an exaggeration. Nearly every business is thinking about digital transformation and identifying the internal and customer-facing processes that could benefit from new technologies and applications.

We’re seeing this in retail, healthcare, financial services, government, higher education – the list goes on and on. IT professionals are at the heart of this digital revolution and the ones who are driving change within organisations. Businesses realise that in order to implement new solutions, they need the talent equipped to lead and manage those projects – enter the IT pros.

Why is ITIL valuable to companies?

ITSM is the strategy an organisation uses to manage its services throughout the entire business. This could encompass a wide range of services, from tracking and monitoring IT assets all the way to routing ticket requests through the employee IT help desk. These processes are what keep companies operating efficiently and employees working productively when technical issues arise.

The ITIL framework includes policies for incident, problem and change management that can be tailored to unique business needs. Leveraging ITIL, organisations can minimise their IT expenses, improve IT service delivery and better adhere to IT standards and regulation. Not only does this help align IT to broader business goals, but it can also improve employee satisfaction across the organisation.

What is a career in ITIL like?

Thousands of businesses rely on ITIL best practices and couldn’t operate on a functional level without it. Just look at today’s modern workplace: nearly every employee uses some form of tech to complete their day-to-day assignments. Without a strong strategy in place to ensure workers don’t experience technical difficulties, businesses risk having their workforce disrupted.

In the wake of the digital age, ITIL professionals have become the backbone of organisations and are some of the most valuable employees to ensuring business objectives are met. Their skills are growing in demand from business leaders and IT decision-makers, which we’re seeing play out on the job market.

A career in ITIL presents a working environment that is constantly changing. As new technologies like artificial intelligence and automation enter the workplace, the best practices for ITSM change, leading to the evolution of the ITIL framework. It’s a field that can shape to fit the tech industry’s latest innovations, providing room for growth and development that will challenge individuals professionally.

What are the most important skills for a career in ITIL?

Receiving my certification in the ITIL 4 Foundation (and previously in ITIL 3) helped to bridge the gap between the framework our platform is built on and how teams can align to ITIL best practices. Becoming ITIL certified helps bring credibility to the recommendations I, and other solutions engineers, make.

ITIL certifications are a great way to enhance your understanding of the ITIL framework while establishing credibility as an ITIL professional. Other crucial skills include listening and understanding sales. Consultative selling, listening to customers’ needs and performing sound requirements gathering are all critical in order to present well-founded and tailored solutions.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in ITIL?

If you’re considering a career in ITIL, I think a terrific way to get started is exposure to your current IT environment. Ask questions about how they accommodate requests, what their processes are for making sure you get your headset fixed etc. Having this conversation humanises the framework as you can see the application of ITIL in a real situation that impacts your day-to-day work experience.

I’d also recommend reading ITIL blogs and getting involved in the ITIL community, be that through certification courses, on LinkedIn or at networking events. I’ve found in some of the webinars I’ve hosted and attended, I’ve had the opportunity to establish connections with those in the vertical that I may not have otherwise.

What are some resources you’d recommend for anyone interested in the industry?

I’ve found community-based resources, like LinkedIn and Pink Elephant, to be incredibly beneficial. These resources offer groups and conferences to extend your knowledge and meet others in the vertical. Leaning on others’ experiences and networking to understand the application, changes and what’s on the horizon are the most helpful.

If you’re taking any of the ITIL certification courses, you receive guided materials that are terrific both in preparation for your exams and afterward as you apply that knowledge in your career.

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