Alex Woo (Cohort 1), a former Technical Consultant graduated from PreSales Academy in November 2021 and started in a Solutions Engineer position at Slack in February 2022! Learn more about his inspiring story below:
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Alex Woo and I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia which kicked off my career as a Financial Advisor at Scotiabank. However, I very quickly moved into the world of technology because I wanted to immerse myself in an area that was face-paced, challenging, and most importantly where career opportunities were endless. I held a variety of different roles throughout the years such as being a Product Analyst at a FinTech startup and a Technical Consultant at a boutique management consulting firm. This gave me a very unique view into the technology industry through many different viewpoints.
What made you want to get into PreSales?
When I graduated from university I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, a statement that just about everyone who graduates can relate to. However, a conversation I had with one recruiter gave me some amazing advice that changed my life - “In your first 5 years after university, go explore as much as you can. Find out what matters most to you at a workplace, things you dislike, things that you cannot compromise on. Find out where it is that you function the best and where you can be the best version of yourself. Recruiters like myself understand that your first few years in the workforce will be a formative experience and they will not penalize you for moving around”. This led me to have multiple different roles in different organizations going from a Financial advisor -> Product Analyst -> Implementation Consultant -> Technical Consultant -> Finally to a PreSales Engineer!
Ultimately what led me to PreSales was a combination of 2 things: A quarter-life career crisis and a very good friend whom I’d consider my mentor. In my first 5 years in the workforce, I jumped between many tech organizations in order to absorb and to learn as much as I could, but in the process never really asked myself what it is I was chasing. I was always moving on the whim of others in order to show them that I was technically competent. This was because imposter syndrome was very real for someone coming from a non-technical background. When I had finally started to reflect, I started noting down things that I knew I was good at, things that I was bad at, and generally what potential careers might suit me. It ended up stressing me out because I was slowly coming to a realization that there didn’t exist a job out there that fit all these criteria.
So what does one do when you have no idea where to go next? You talk to people. So I started reaching out to my network and having coffee talks. An Individual I reached out to, Omagbitse Ejoor, a Senior Solutions Engineer at Salesforce, forever changed my trajectory. At first, I had no clue what even a Solution Engineer was, let alone what they did. As we spoke, I came to understand more about the role. They did so much of what I thought I would love to do on a day-to-day basis like discoveries, demos, and proof of concepts. But what really sold me was when I’d heard that you didn’t need to do any cold calling or negotiating. After the conversation, my gut told me that this was the role I’d been searching for all this time and I made the leap of faith to go into PreSales.
Why did you choose PreSales Academy?
I initially had doubts about whether or not the PreSales Academy was a good investment for me because I came from a background where I had done and seen discoveries and demos. However, I made the choice to join the program because of 3 reasons.
The first is that this would be my trial into seeing whether the PreSales profession was a good fit for me based on the day to day activities and if I had real potential for the role itself.
The second being that if this were truly to be my next career move, I wanted to have a solid foundation as to which I could go off of. Having seen and done discoveries and demos wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to know what a damn good discovery and a phenomenal demo/presentation looked like.
Last but not least was the ability to crush interviews. Two doubts I had the PreSales Academy solved for me was could I even get someone to look at my resume for an interview? And if I did land an interview could I secure the job? The combination of all these reasons made it a no-brainer for me to join!
What would you recommend to someone considering the PSA?
Do your research on what PreSales is all about, apply to the PSA program and bring all your questions that you have to the table! PreSales is a relatively unknown field right now and it's OK to not understand every single facet or moving part in this dynamic role. This is really your chance to ask in-depth questions from those who have years of industry experience and can help you understand if this could be your next move!
How did PSA help you in ultimately landing a PreSales job?
The PSA was paramount in helping me land my job by directly introducing me to hiring managers. Being in the program for 10 weeks, they were really able to vouch for my professionalism, work ethic, and potential as a future Sales Engineer which was really key in enabling these conversations. Additionally, the support of the coaches and mentors was absolutely amazing. As I was moving into the final rounds for certain companies, they would offer time to run through mock demo/presentations in order to give me feedback. I even reached out to a coach who wasn’t directly assigned to me and they immediately jumped in to help me. Without them, I don’t think I would have gone in with such confidence that I could secure the job
Anything else to add about your experience with the program?
The program is still in its infancy but you can really tell that a lot of effort was put into it, as it was one of the best courses I’ve taken to date. Mixing in live instruction, with group and self-paced activities WITH external speakers, coaches/mentors? An absolutely insane combination that just made this program so worth it. Everyone is bleeding wisdom and you can’t type fast enough to absorb it all!
Where do you work now?
I will be starting as a Solutions Engineer at Slack come to the end of February 2022. I’m really excited to be working at Slack because I’ll be getting the opportunity to learn and work alongside other brilliant Solution Engineers. I’m a big believer that surrounding yourself with the right individuals is important as it influences how you approach problem-solving, picking up good habits and overall pushing you to be the best you can be!
Beyond this I also love the product, the people I’ve met so far and the overall opportunity to develop and grow within such an amazing organization. I never thought that there would be a company that could meet all these requirements, but I’ve found it!