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Exclusive: How NetApp's S3 Academy is fostering new talent
Tue, 20th Feb 2024

In an era where the technology sector grapples with rapid evolution and the pressing need for skilled professionals, NetApp Australia & New Zealand is taking significant strides to nurture early-career talent through its innovative S3 (Sales, Support & Services) Academy. The programme, designed for individuals with one to three years of industry experience, is ideal for those looking to make their mark in the technology domain, particularly within partner programmes in the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) region.

Rhys George, Head of Distribution, Strategic Channels & Cloud for NetApp ANZ, shed light on the Academy's role in shaping the future of young professionals. "The S3 Academy is a structured programme focusing on three pillars: experience, exposure, and education. It's about giving attendees not just formal certification training but also the real-world application of that knowledge," George explained. This holistic approach ensures that graduates emerge with a robust foundation in the technology industry and an understanding of the cross-functional roles crucial for success in customer and partner interactions.

One of the Academy's key strengths lies in its tailored approach to professional development. It recognises the individual learning and working styles of its participants, enabling them to apply the knowledge and experience gained more effectively. "Understanding what works for them is a game-changer," George remarked, highlighting the programme's commitment to personal and professional growth.

Distinguishing the S3 Academy from other graduate programmes is its unique blend of practical experience, senior executive exposure, and comprehensive training across systems, software, and cloud technologies. Attendees have the rare opportunity to relocate to the US for three months, immersing themselves in NetApp's Training Centre. "This relocation is fully supported by NetApp, covering logistics like accommodation and food, allowing participants to focus entirely on the learning experience," George added, emphasizing the company's investment in its future leaders.

The S3 Academy has already made significant impacts on its participants, with examples from the ANZ partner organisation illustrating the programme's effectiveness. "We have individuals who, after attending the academy, progressed into roles overseeing large territories and managing operations and go-to-market functions for our distributors," George shared. These success stories underscore the programme's ability to fast-track career development and provide participants with a competitive edge.

Beyond individual advancement, the S3 Academy plays a critical role in fostering a collaborative and innovative culture within the technology partner ecosystem. By bringing together a diverse group of individuals from various geographies and functional areas, the programme encourages a holistic view of business challenges and innovative solutions. "The S3 programme instils a growth mindset, empowering participants to apply their learnings in their day-to-day roles," George stated, highlighting the programme's contribution to a dynamic and forward-thinking business environment.

Jenna Moss, Channel Sales Manager, NetApp Australia & New Zealand, who is currently in the USA on the 3-month on-site S3 training program, said, “I'm excited to learn and grow with this incredible opportunity, and even more thrilled to return to Melbourne to take on an exciting new role in FY25. I am extremely grateful for the relationships I've built with the Canberra and Melbourne teams, the ANZ Partner team, my trusted NetApp Partners and Distributors and my extended network.”

Networking and team-building opportunities are also a cornerstone of the S3 Academy experience. Participants gain unprecedented access to NetApp executives, including CEO George Kurian, and the chance to job shadow subject matter experts. "The networking platform and experience that attendees get through the programme cannot be understated," George affirmed, pointing to the importance of building connections for career growth and development.

In terms of supporting diversity and inclusion, the S3 Academy stands out by including graduates from various geographies and levels of industry experience. "The inclusivity and diversity gained from the vast experiences and backgrounds of these attendees are invaluable," George observed, highlighting the programme's commitment to creating a rich learning environment.

Looking ahead, the S3 Academy is poised to continue its positive impact on the careers of its participants and the success of NetApp's technology partner ecosystem. "Attendees from NetApp ANZ are some of our top performers. The knowledge acquired through the programme is continually applied, benefiting our partners and customers alike," George concluded, reflecting on the Academy's enduring legacy and its recognition as one of the top graduate programmes globally.

One of the participants who has worked through the program is Tom Matthews, who is now the Distribution Manager for NetApp Australia & New Zealand. He spoke on the Academy, saying, “Being part of NetApp's S3 Academy has been incredibly rewarding for me, offering invaluable hands-on experience and mentorship from industry leaders. The benefits of the program are not just about gaining technical skills; it's about becoming part of a dynamic community driving innovation and shaping the future of technology in Australia. I also really enjoyed the three-month training experience on-site at NetApp's office in the United States.”

As the S3 Academy forges ahead, its role in shaping the next generation of technology leaders in Australia and New Zealand remains pivotal. Through its comprehensive approach to professional development, NetApp is not just investing in the future of its employees but also ensuring the resilience and innovation of the broader technology sector.