I Can't Code But I Love Tech...Now What? - With Hosanna Hali
Updated: May 17
Juanita Coley: Hey guys. Welcome to call center Chronicles. We are on episode 6. We've been having some episodes and I'm super excited for our guests that we have today. Last week we talked through just some amazing things as we talked with Genefa talking through the new call center and the technology and by the time a customer calls, they actually want to speak to a person.
So, we had some great conversations with her; the CMO of Five9 and if you haven't caught some of our previous episodes, I highly encourage you to go back, watch some of the episodes because we are definitely diving in and having some really thought provoking yet fun conversations as you heard about the show surrounding call centers and how we can do better. I'm always thinking about how we innovate in call centers and how we can really drive the customer experience and agent experience and just the overall experience in a call center life.
And so, one of the things that Genefa said last week, that was just super, I said I was going to get a mind blown emoji, still working on that by the way. But I said this was so mind blowing to me, she was saying how we really have to basically get good at delivery; let's just deliver on the basics and then when we deliver on the basics, we can really re-imagine and innovate from there and we're in a world especially with entrepreneurs and just really wanting to be innovative that is the big thing we really talk about innovating and re-imagining all of the possibilities and so while that is key and I 100% believe in that we have to innovate we definitely have to nail the basics.
And so, Call Center Chronicles was created to have that dialogue and have those conversations so I'm super excited. Last week we did a little lesson, this week we're going to jump right into the interview because I'm super excited to talk to our guest. So, I'm going to introduce to some of you all and present to others, Hosanna. Hosanna how are you?
Hosanna Hali: I'm good, thank you. How are you?
Juanita Coley: Good! So, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do.
Hosanna Hali: Sure. So, hello everyone. My name is Hosanna Hali. I live in the UK, as you can probably tell by my accent. It's actually started snowing outside right now, which is typical of a London in March, but I am currently an Azure Specialist at Microsoft; so, I specialize in Cloud Computing Technology so that's a cross kind of infrastructure and data analytics as well, I am so really passionate about that but on the side, I am really passionate about getting more women into tech, women of color as well, because there's much less of us in this space.
So, I run my own platform called the "Tech Corner" where I give advice, tips, tricks, resources, tools that people can use to start their journey in tech. So, I share my own journey as well because I think that's also really important now, I just believe representation is really important within the tech space; people have to see someone like them to feel like they can achieve these goals. So really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Juanita Coley: Yeah, you're like a girl hero. So, one of the goals that I talk about with Call Center Chronicles as you've heard is to normalize women in tech, I kind of stumbled into tech, I've always been a techie; I love technology and everything like that and I started my journey in call centers.
I was reading a what's called a "Blue Pumpkin Manual", which is now Verint and so that's how I got involved in call centers and learning about all of the technology and all of that good stuff. And the world just really kind of grabbed me, I was like, Oh my God! It's so many different things that you can do in the call center space, it's not just answering the phones and when I begin to think about what you're doing, I discovered you on Instagram.
And I was like, okay yes! I have to have her on the show because you're right, one of the things that you talk about on your platform is that you don't have to necessarily be a coder to get involved in technology and if you don't, what are some of the avenues that you can go in order to get involved in technology?
And that has been my experience. I don't code, but I am definitely heavily involved in technology, in helping companies implement technology, optimize the technology that they have in place and then building their workforce management teams, and I don't code! And so how have I been able to build this career and even company without being able to code?
So, I think that is a big misconception that you have to be this genius coder or out here making Facebooks in order to make an impact in technology and so you talk about that heavily on your platform so I want you to talk to us a little bit today about how you get involved in technology. You work at Microsoft right now right, so what are some of the avenues that you've seen other people take and even yourself take to get involved in technology?
Hosanna Hali: Yeah, absolutely. Everything that you've said is completely true. I think when people think tech, they just think, tech as one job and they forget that tech is an entire industry. It's definitely not just one or a few developers sat in a room and then that's it. When you think about all the platforms that we use, even just Instagram, yes there are developers that who need to build it, but we need project managers to make sure that the budget for updates are in time, we need UX designers to ensure that everything looks right. There are so many people involved in the creation of technology.
There are thousands of people involved in ensuring that we can use Instagram and many of these people actually don't code so yes, there are so many different avenues into tech. So, if you're not into coding and you don't want to code, or you have learned to code but you think it's actually not for me and because I learned to code at university, but I don't code every day at Microsoft. And so that's another misconception that people have; it's just about coding when it's not there, lots of us who work in these companies and then code every day. So, lots and lots of options I could go on about noncoding tech jobs forever.
Juanita Coley: So, you mentioned this earlier about being passionate about women getting in technology and not seeing as many women involved in technology. Why do you think that is?
Hosanna Hali: I think it's because it's starts at a young age. So statistically in the UK , young girls started dropping off technology from the age of 14, so a very young age, they decide that it's not the route for them and I think that's because one, there's a lack of encouragement within the school space to get girls into tech in general, there's lack of representation so even the teachers that you have tend to be male, the representation within the media growing up, I never really saw black women in tech growing up, not on TV or anything like that, so that makes it even harder, and then you just do think that it's for you, you have a misconception that there's only one single job in there and then when you do go to try, when you are a woman, you're walking into rooms where there's kind of no one like you, which makes it even harder.
So, I think that it starts from a young age it's a number of things, but yeah, it' really puts women off and yeah, young girls unfortunately.
Juanita Coley: Tell me what was instrumental for you getting into a company, like Microsoft; it's a massive company. So, kind of really two questions, what made you decide to go into tech and then what was your journey like getting into a company like Microsoft?
Hosanna Hali: Yeah, so getting into tech, so I did my undergraduate degree in business and then went on to do my Master's degree. And so, the plan was to do my Master's Degree in Finance because I was like, oh, I need to get some money, so it makes sense to do finance, but I then decided to do a Master's in Computer Science. I had the opportunity to move from business to computer science so I took it and I think what made me do it was the support from my family.
So, I remember the choice that I had to make and it was specifically kind of my dad. I was like, dad, I've got to decide what should I do? And he was like, finance is always going to be here and he's in finance. So, he was like finance is traditional, it's always going to be here, so go for tech because it's new, it's exciting and I've always been kind of driven by like shiny things so anything that's like, what's going to bring a lot of excitement to me.
So that's the route that I took and once I graduated from my Master's, that's when I applied for Microsoft. So, the journey was long as you can imagine, all kind of this big tech company the application process is very long, but I really just stumbled across it there.
I saw that they were looking for people, for graduates, for earning career and I was like, I need to apply, if I'm going to work in tech then I've got to go and try and at least get into one of the big ones. So yeah, there was a long application, certain interviews and CD submission, testing, group tasks, presentations, lots of things, but it was an enjoyable process for sure.
Juanita Coley: So, I'm in this group that shall remain nameless, I'm in a Facebook group and, I'll tell you the idea of the group is that it's more like an outlet for agents and they talk about how they hate their jobs and how the customers always harassing them and how the company just doesn't understand or the companies because it's a generic group so any one can join and so because I'm always looking to learn.
So, I'm always looking at what can I learn from these different experiences and so, I'm always interested when I'm asking have you guys looked at other roles in the company and it's more than just one type of thing that you can do in this particular industry in call centers.
What would be your experience or what would be your answer or word of advice to someone that is looking to get involved in tech, but they don't code or things like that like you've mentioned earlier, so many different positions you can go into, what would be your advice to them career pathing and moving from more of an entry-level to something more evolved in that they would enjoy?
Hosanna Hali: I think the first step is always doing your research; I think that's really important. So, listening to podcasts like this and shows like this and following the people on Instagram and things like that, and just using Google, Bing and all of that good stuff to do your research if you're just typing kind of non-coding jobs intact, there will be lots of options which come up and then just start having a look, I think it doesn't hurt to have that knowledge to just say okay, these are the jobs, these are the job description.
Look at the skills that are required, look at the descriptions of the roles and start finding those transferable skills. I think a lot of people think that if they're moving into tech from a different background, they need to scrap all the skills that they have right now which of course isn't true.
If you're working in a call center, you already have some great transferable skills that we need in tech, so things like communication, influencing, negotiation, like your customer facing all of those really important skills, we need that already in tech.
So, think about those skills that you have and then try and match that to some of those jobs, which are kind of non-technical and non-coding, I would say that's the first one, so got to start research please. And then I would say start networking, so whether it's people within your company who are already doing the job or reaching out to people on LinkedIn, who are doing the job that you're doing, you would be surprised how willing people are to help; people love talking about themselves.
They reach out to them say hello and see that your interest there, stop start doing that work. And then I guess the last thing would be to just start building those new skills that you might need, even though you are in a non-coding or maybe non-technical job in tech, you still need to have an element of knowing tech trends, knowing the industry; so, use the platforms things Geek wire, things like Glassdoor to get an understanding of the industry and the skills that you need and then yeah, start matching altogether.
You have all the things, you have the skills and then you have kind of the network and start slowly kind of making your direction there and you will make it, people think that it's an instant thing, but it isn't. My sister came from a non-technical background, so I did a tech degree she didn't, so she has two non-tech degrees and only two months ago she started as a software developer.
Juanita Coley: Wow!
Hosanna Hali: She transitioned over. She knew what she wanted and she was very focused.
Juanita Coley: Back it up! So, tell me about this again. So, your sister doesn't have a background in tech and she started two months ago as a software developer?