Kylie Ayres is a big believer that everyone is a student in life.

“No one can ever know everything there is to know, so for me that thirst for knowledge and continuous improvement is always there,” says the Datacom Australia Partner Development Manager.

“I’ve never wanted to arrive at old age and think ‘why didn’t I just give things a go?’”

A diverse path

Kylie’s role at Datacom is to support the company’s strategic partnership with Microsoft for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. That involves informing and executing on Datacom’s partnership strategy with Microsoft, while working closely with the sales team and capability leads to establish, develop and enhance relationships with Microsoft – and, ultimately, support customers’ success.

The tech sector, however, is far from where she began her career, which has been characterised by diversity.

Kylie’s first job was in conference management – giving her a solid grounding in organisation, working under pressure and with multiple stakeholders – before she headed off in her early 20s to live and work in Europe.

On her return to Australia, she pursued a passion to help others, aligned with her interests in health and wellbeing, by qualifying as a yoga instructor, and working for a decade as a massage practitioner specialising in pre- and post-natal massage.

After studying Chinese medicine, she had a stint living and working in China, and it was on her return to Australia at that point that her “opportunistic” foray into tech began.

Falling into tech

Kylie recounts how, through a friend, she was asked to help out at a tech company with sales support; impressed with her abilities, they then asked her to provide maternity cover for the marketing manager.

Later, she joined forces with a mentor from that company to establish a startup software distribution business, gaining a grounding in all aspects of running a successful tech firm.

Datacom's Kylie Ayres

“While a career in tech wasn’t necessarily something I sought out, it held my interest because I could see how fast-paced the industry is and how much there is to learn.”

“I’m not technical by any means, but I think I was quickly able to grasp certain concepts, and I could see how tech was helping drive a lot of great outcomes for companies and communities.”

Continuous improvement

The opportunity to stay on that learning journey was a key factor that drew Kylie to Datacom five-and-a-half years ago.

“When I joined, I remember meeting all these different people in the business and thinking ‘there are so many smart people here and I’ve got so much to learn’,” she recalls.

Kylie is now in her third role at the company. She began as an Account Director, looking after some of the company’s key managed services customers in Melbourne, then as a Business Development Executive she explored how Datacom could help customers with their strategic business problems.

“Over the time I’ve been here I’ve seen how Datacom continues to change and innovate as the world evolves. We’ve done amazing work with our customers – some of which is truly life changing.”

“We also have a strong focus on community and giving back through the organisations we support, fundraising and volunteer days. I feel proud to be part of an organisation that gives back, and has a lot of really smart people who can thrive together.”

A holistic view

As part of her ongoing learning and development, Kylie was among a cohort of women to recently complete the six-month Women Rising programme, with support from Microsoft.

A holistic personal and professional development journey, Women Rising was founded by Megan Dalla-Camina – a global expert in women’s leadership, wellbeing and empowerment.

“I’ve done a lot of self-development and courses over the years and what I really liked about Women Rising was the holistic nature of the programme, taking into consideration every aspect of your life, not just work.”

Datacom's Kylie Ayres stands in front of a bicycle

“The cohort of women I was with was so great too; the connections formed, support of one another and trust in sharing our experiences were amazing.”

Kylie notes that working in a large firm like Datacom heightens awareness of the broad scope of career opportunities in tech – from leadership to project management to business analysts. And the misconception that you need to be a ‘techie’ to work in the tech industry, she notes, is changing.

“I joke that I bring the human side to tech,” she says. “I had a lot of life experience leading up to my work in tech, and I think that diversity and dealing with so many people has really helped me lead with empathy and compassion.”

“The tech industry needs diversity because our customers are diverse, so we need empathy and diversity to problem solve for our customers and provide them with the best business solutions.”

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