In order for our tech sector to continue on a successful growth trajectory over the coming decades, we have to invest in future talent. At techSPARK, we recognise this as a key barrier that as a community we’re yet to surmount. Amongst a number of initiatives we support, including an award specifically for young people at The SPARKies is something important to us.

Each year, our judges assess who will be taking home the FutureSPARK Award, sponsored by Future Space. It’s for under-25s working in the tech sector – as an employee, postgrad or founder – who have shown outstanding commitment or initiative within their work. At The SPARKies 2023, Cloud Development Manager at Pax8, Georgia Howlett was crowned the FutureSPARK winner. 

In the name of championing young talent, we wanted to catch up with Georgia to learn more about her career so far and life at Pax8. 

TS: Hey Georgia! Could you introduce yourself for our audience and tell us a bit about what you do?

GH: Hello! My name’s Georgia and I currently work in Bristol at Pax8

As a Sales leader within a unicorn SAAS business, I am responsible for driving new business and ensuring our partners are onboarded properly to our marketplace. 

Having spent the last two years building out Pax8’s Demand Generation function as a Senior Manager for our SDR team, I am now switching my focus to further down the Sales funnel and currently building out our first partner onboarding specialist team in EMEA. 

In my new role as Cloud Development Manager, I am responsible for ensuring our partners get ahead of industry challenges and helping to take their business to the next level with support from our growing community of IT experts. 

Throughout my career at Pax8, I have been responsible for managing a total of 38 people and celebrated 16 promotions from within my team. In the UK so far, we have introduced over 3000 strategic partners to Pax8, who have since gone on to see a high ROI. 

When Pax8 did a ‘Best Companies Survey’ at the tail end of 2022, the Cloud Generation (SDR) team was the highest scoring team in the UK’s business in terms of highest engagement/satisfaction, citing team culture and management satisfaction as their most rated areas. 

I hold a BA Hons for Business Management and Marketing from the University of the West of England and am pursuing an Interior Design Diploma outside of work. I’m currently facing my fear of flying as a work in progress and have been enjoying visiting new city breaks post lockdowns. 

Fun Fact about me… I have my own food blog and like to try out new spots around Bristol on the weekends! 

TS: Congrats on winning the FutureSPARK award! How did it feel to be recognised for your work at Pax8?

Well aware this sounds a bit cliché, but winning the award was a huge surprise. I was never particularly academic at school so winning big awards has never really been something to be expected or a key driver of mine. 

When I heard from my manager, Aaron, that he wanted to put me forward to be nominated from Pax8, I was hugely grateful for the nomination, let alone the win. 

Although celebration is a key value at Pax8 and I have been recognised in my career internally for the achievements and milestones we have hit, to be recognised externally amongst the South West tech community with this award, felt really special. 

I am also hugely proud to represent women within the tech industry as there is still some way to go with diverse representation and it was brilliant to bring home the award to the team, friends, and family. 

… I just wish I’d worn a different blazer than the one on my LinkedIn photo as Abi Clarke (the host and comedian on the night) picked up on that pretty quickly! Haha

TS: Haha rookie error! Can you tell us a bit about your career journey so far, from school up to landing your role at Pax8?

I fell into the IT industry at university! I was studying Business Management with Marketing at UWE but up until that point in my education, had always been under the impression that roles in STEM were for those who had naturally been drawn towards Maths and Science at school – two subjects which personally, I have never had an interest in.

Having had little exposure to the technology industry and the merits of a career within, it was not something I had considered previously, simply because of the lack of awareness there is in schools and universities around careers in tech. 

Whilst pursuing a year in industry at university, I stumbled across a job advertisement for SAP. It described the IT industry as ‘fast-paced,’ ‘ever-changing’ and at the ‘forefront of business innovation’ which piqued my interest in taking on new challenges and joining an industry that kept things interesting sounded good to me.

As a B2B company, it also made reference to uplifting other businesses through tech, and how they, in turn, could make a difference the people and communities, in which they operated. Although the recruitment process was a little daunting at the time as a 20-year-old with no prior corporate experience, I was elated to be successful in my application to work for one of the world’s largest SAAS businesses and excited by the prospect of taking on the challenge. 

Over the 13-month placement, based within SAP Concur’s ENT Marketing team, I was fortunate enough to be managed by two hugely inspirational women leaders (Bryony Cato and Kerry Bentley.) They were both hugely influential in shaping my early career and mentored me to step into larger opportunities as the year went on. As a result, I gained invaluable experience in a short space of time and understood the importance and impact of strong management in entry-level roles. 

With this experience, I became very aware of how motivated I was by an environment that threw consistent learning curves, invested in its people and market innovation was rife. The marketing side of things has always been something I enjoyed, but as my progression developed, I started to work more closely with the Sales team. I saw the career opportunity within the team and liked the idea of personally driving results in a role that focused on people and relationship building. 

Once I made it through a graduation year that landed in Covid (2020,) I decided I wanted to find a role where I could stretch my development further. 

This is where I came across Pax8… 

TS: What’s working life like at Pax8?

GH: Pax8 expanded into the UK from the US in January 2021 and this is when I started my career in the business. When I first joined, we were still in and out of lockdowns, and therefore all training and work in those first few months had to be done at home. A handful of the US team had flown over to start up our expansion in the UK and the Sales team was being built up by Aaron Watts, VP of Sales and Nathan Stokes who became the first Regional Sales Manager. 

When I started, I was the only woman in my hiring class of 10 and essentially began my sales career cold calling from my bedroom: Reaching out to new prospective partners in the UK, many of whom had never heard of us before. Fast forward to 2023 and we’ve just hit our 3000 partners milestone, less than 3 years later! 

Most people at the business describe Pax8 as a ‘rocketship’ and it’s pretty clear why when you look at some of the key milestones our team has hit during a relatively short time period in the market.  

Since 2021, the team has grown exponentially from about 15 to now, nearly 400 across the EMEA region. I have witnessed; 4 acquisitions, 2 UK office moves, and something I’m very proud of is helping increase diversity in the tech industry, through building our own Employee Resource Groups across the business. 

Exciting is an understatement, but what I enjoy most about Pax8 is the culture of the business, particularly within the sales function. Despite the constant change, industry curve balls thrown by NCE, and the high goalposts that come with working for a unicorn company, the culture is definitely one in which talent has thrived, and ‘people-first’ is of the upmost importance.

TS: Sounds like you’re smashing it Georgia! To close, what piece of advice would you give to young people just starting out in their careers?

GH: One piece of advice I would give to young people starting out, is that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is one of the most important things you can do in your early career. Getting comfortable with ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and saying yes to new opportunities, is one of the best ways to enhance your career!

Thanks to Future Space, the hub that connects entrepreneurs and tech innovators with scientists, researchers and graduate talent – to spark collaboration, innovation and growth, for sponsoring the FutureSPARK Award and the associated content , making it possible for us to celebrate young people in the region! 

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.