“Crazy busy.” That’s how Sam Poutai describes the first year in her new role as a cloud enablement consultant at Datacom.

When the country went into Level 4 lockdown, Sam packed up her computer and told her manager she’d spend the quiet time at home updating company documentation. Instead, she found herself dealing with a flurry of phone calls as customers big and small scrambled to move applications to Datacom’s cloud infrastructure to support their remote workers and meet surging demand for online services.

“We had one partner ask us to stand up 30 virtual machines in a matter of days. It was an incredibly busy time and it hasn’t slowed down that much since.”

Sam’s latest role caps off nearly 15 years spent at Datacom. She graduated from Takapuna Grammar School in 2005. Thoughts of taking a gap year while she figured out her next move quickly evaporated.

“My parents said to me, if you're not at school, you should be working full time. There’s no in-between,” says Sam.

She chose employment over university, starting at Datacom the following February.

“I had no idea what Datacom was at that point,” says Sam.

“I was an office junior. I watered the plants, delivered mail and covered reception.”

But she soon learned the opportunities for career development in the company were there for the taking. An executive assistant role put her in a unique position to work with and learn from members of Datacom’s executive team. 

“I learned so much, but it also gave me an appreciation for the hard work you have to put in and the passion you need to have to succeed,” Sam says.

“This business is changing every single day. How do you make sure it keeps moving forward?”

She has no regrets about skipping university.

“I have so many certifications alongside my name gained while I’ve been at Datacom. There’s definitely an important place for university, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all, particularly as kids are now learning to code at school,” says Sam.

“You certainly don’t need to go to university to be taken seriously.”

She says her decision to jump straight into full-time work was probably inspired by her father Thomas, a jack of all trades. 

“He was a barber before I was born, then he designed footwear. He was a factory manager and now he’s a painter.”

“He’s just such a hard worker,” says Sam.

Photo of Sam Poutai

That same willingness to try new things has seen Sam take on a wide range of roles at Datacom spanning pre-sales and service delivery to IT strategy and administration.

“To grow within Datacom is such a cool thing, because you get the opportunity to learn so much along the way,” she says.

The learning isn’t restricted to work as Sam and her partner navigate the ups and downs of parenthood. 

“We have a four-year-old girl, she’s the sassiest wee thing and forever on the go.”

With competition heating up in the cloud infrastructure space, Sam says her priority these days is making sure customers get the most from the cloud resources that are available to them.

“A lot of our customers have small IT teams, some just have one person running the shop,” she says.

“It’s giving them the time back where they would have been worrying about maintaining their own infrastructure, doing our job so they can focus on things that are really going to add value to their business.”

Nearly 15 years in, many people would be considering a change of scene, or even a career break. But not Sam Poutai.

“I have a lot of contact with our customers and we have new products coming through,” says Sam.

“It’s innovative and exciting, I’m still learning and I still love it.”

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