Author Archives: Justin Ossola

Erik McAndrews: Army Officer to Account Executive Job

Sometime toward the end of 2017 when I knew my military career was coming to a close, life was very uncertain. I had been getting advice about making the transition for years, but never really took it seriously. Then all of a sudden, BAM, life happens. I was doing everything in my power to set myself up for success. Like the skies parting and the angels singing, Justin Ossola from Tech Qualled (who I later found out was one of the founders) contacted me via LinkedIn about a possible Account Executive Job and training program.Account Executive Job

At the time I had never heard of the program and was extremely cautious about committing myself to anything. Justin explained what being an account executive in the technology industry was. I found that my career experience was uniquely matched with being an account executive. I had spent two years in recruiting, the closest you can get to sales in the military, and I had over eight years of Signal/IT experience. When Justin explained the career field and what it consisted of it was as if he’d just described peanut butter and jelly.

I was hesitant still and unconvinced of the viability of the program. I used the techniques learned while in Army Recruiting to conduct research on anyone and everyone associated with Tech Qualled, and I unexpectedly found that this was a very serious program with some amazing results. Within days I was fully committed to the selection process. It was challenging and required serious effort on my part, but when I received the acceptance phone call I knew my life had changed in a way that I never predicted.

The most challenging part of the training was fully immersing myself in it. Like I said, life was happening and Tech Qualled is very serious about their training. The time requirements were very reasonable to complete the training; however, I knew I was making a complete life change, so I used the resources and tools Tech Qualled provided to fill all of my available time.

I went through the program between March and June of 2018, and I had never met or even heard of any of the members of my cohort. During those few weeks, I’ve made life-long friends and have an open line of communication to anyone in the cohort. In fact, I’ve reached out to multiple other cohort members and they’ve all been like an open book. This is definitely one of the most beneficial aspects of going through Tech Qualled, I was never alone in my journey into an account executive job.

Finally, as the training ends and life started to hit (I just started terminal leave), the big question was what’s next? There were multiple opportunities and lots of concerns about “fit”. Every person at Tech Qualled would hear my concerns and answer my questions. I felt embarrassed by my lack of knowledge/experience, but they really carried me through.

Overall, my transition from the military was incredibly smooth. Except for CIF (central issuing facility/ where you turn your equipment in). I left the Army knowing I had a new career ahead of me and that the team at Tech Qualled genuinely were going to work their hardest to see me be successful. It was an absolute blessing and miracle that I was afforded the opportunity to go through the Tech Qualled program, and get an Account Executive job.

 

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Erik McAndrews is a former Army Officer and Tech Qualled graduate. He is now in an Account Manager role at Splendid Technology Services and is based out of San Antonio, TX.

 

Marine Captain joins Launchpad Academy

Demarcus Gilliard is a former Captian and Communications Officer with the U.S. Marine Corp and Tech Qualled graduate of the Launchpad Academy. He is now in a Territory Account Executive role at Check Point Software Technologies and is based out of Los Angeles, CA.

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“My job in the military was to set up communications networks for the units we were attached to in order to communicate via voice, video, data, and radio. As time went on, it was time to decide what I wanted to do. I didn’t really have a plan, I just knew I wanted to keep challenging myself.

A career in high tech sales was the way that I wanted to go because I could not only work hard but get paid for it. I was doing some networking on my own as I was deciding what I wanted to do, and I came across a friend of mine who gave me a tip about Tech Qualled. So I did some researched, explored their website and it really spoke to me. There were a lot of my skills that were transferable. With the cohort situation of veterans from all over the country, it was a bond and something we really relied on each other through the process.

 

When I got out of the military I was stationed in San Diego at the recruitment depot. Fortunately, when I started Tech Qualled, I was able to land a job in Orange County, CA with Check Point Software Technologies. 

I am a merit guy, I want to work hard, and get paid for it. And there is something so rewarding about putting the work to the grindstone and getting something in return.  Tech Qualled absolutely changed my life. It was literally the point where I was at. I needed TQ and it got me to the place I am now, and I’ve never been happier as far as a career is concerned. With TQ I gained the confidence to say I am qualified for this role. Tech Qualled had the contacts, the network to allow me to apply to many different companies.

The training is so relevant to what you actually do out in the real world. For that with the owners, the curriculum, the comradery of the group; it is effective, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Launchpad Academy

Key Benefits of Usability Testing in Virtual Sales Training

Usability testing is the best way to gain a better understanding of how your learners (also known Virtual Sales Trainingas “users”) interact with your virtual sales training course materials. During, testing users are asked to complete simple tasks while being observed and often recorded. User testing can be done in-person or remotely, and when well designed, it will provide you with some great benefits.

When you make usability testing part of your e-learning or virtual sales training development process, you will be able to:

Save money.

Development costs can add up quickly and when you can see how your users are interacting with your content, you can ward off potential mistakes. For example, you can remove items that they do not care about, and you can fix areas that confuse them, such as navigation issues and other functionality issues that may frustrate them. Understanding what the user experiences allows you to focus on development time and money on what is most important to them, and will improve your learner motivation and program efficiency.

See where your learners get stuck in the Virtual Sales Training

When a button, link, or any other interaction item fails to work properly, it can frustrate the user. Vague instructions can also create problems. You may think you have accounted for all the possible issues, and you may think you know exactly how the user will interact with your content, but chances are you have made some mistakes and the user will find them. Usability testing will help highlight what you have missed and allow you to fix issues before they become a major problem, and impact learning outcomes.

Get an unbiased perspective.

It’s hard to take a step back and view things with fresh eyes, especially after we have spent so much time working on a building out content and assessments. Even our own teams will harbor certain biases when reviewing, performing quality control checks and testing course modules. But we have to keep in mind who we are creating for, and we have to be able to view things through the user’s eyes in order to create anything of value. Usability testing allows you to see what the user sees and experiences, so you can make your e-learning course better.

Improve user experience and increase learning outcomes.

The goal is to engage the user, provide them with the material they need to learn, and ensure they complete the lesson. You may have great intentions but if you are not providing value and making it easy for the user to access and interact with the content, then all your hard work is for nothing. Usability testing can help you see barriers to success such as poor navigation, improper branching, interaction issues, unclear content, etc. so you can fix them and make the user experience as easy as possible for them. It is also important to make sure you are testing on multiple devices, and that you get a proper user sample to ensure you are not missing anything.

Lower support costs.

When you provide the user with the ability to self-solve problems during the lesson, you can lower your support costs and decrease learner frustration. Review your most frequently asked questions and most frequently encountered support requests. Fix them immediately so they are no longer support issues, and make sure you have resources or a knowledge base that the user can access anytime throughout the module to help get quick answers to potential questions. Make sure the information is always up to date and easy to find.

Keep in mind, building a virtual sales training course right the first time, can save you significant time and money in the long run. Not to mention help ensure better learner engagement, motivation, and outcomes. Usability testing does not have to be complicated, and it should be a standard part of your e-learning development process. Remember to test often, and make sure you are delivering the best user experience possible.

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Tina Indalecio is the Director of Learning & Development at Tech Qualled and has over 25 years of combined education, design, business operations, sales, and marketing experience. She has developed and delivered educational courses for K-12, higher education and adult learners. In addition, she has been an Adjunct Faculty member at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and a guest lecturer/speaker at The Art Institute and UCSD Extension. She has taught marketing, communications, business, and creative design courses, as well as assisted students with portfolio development and reviews.

Forging a New Identity: Skills for Top Salesmen

You wouldn’t expect someone who spent the last ten years flying helicopters in the Navy to make a good salesperson, but I’ve found that many of the skills and experiences I’ve had in my last ten years with the Navy are the same skills and experiences your top salesmen have.

This was my opening line whenever an interviewer asked me to talk about myself. Like you, my identity for the past ten years revolved around my military service. There were many things I expected to struggle with Top Salesmengoing into my transition out of the Navy. How would I find my new identity? How would I regain confidence in my work that I had spent ten years developing? How would I continue to support my family? I knew it was going to be a challenging and daunting process. Luckily, one of the things I had decided on was Tech Qualled. Through my training, I learned all about the technology space; the difference between a server and a switch, cybersecurity, data center solutions, cloud, and IOT. Additionally, the program taught me how to get started in a sales role, and how to find my voice in a new role.

Learning How to Fish

Tech Qualled’s Launchpad Academy program can be described in many ways, but the best summary for me is that they ‘teach you how to fish’. This model works in high tech sales training because you learn the material through your own efforts; through trial and error. You can read all the sales training books out there, but all of that is more or less academic. We all know that practice makes perfect, but most of us hate to practice. TQ takes a practicum-based approach, leveraging their connections within the tech industry to assign respected sales leaders as role players. This is when the training started to pay off for me. The scenario-driven role-playing exercises and interview training in Fort Worth, TX was excellent; and challenging. I was able to find my voice and to identify the skills I had developed during my time as a helicopter pilot that would translate nicely into a sales role.

Top Salesmen Beginnings:

When I finally began garnering interest from various high tech companies shortly after graduation, I was expected to conduct ad hoc sales pitches with limited information and to answer questions such as ‘how I planned to succeed in a sales role with no experience’. Tech Qualled had prepared me and I was ready to ace any interview. Now, I didn’t become the world’s top salesmen or the best public speaker in my time at Tech Qualled. The program is good, but no program is that good. Conversely, Tech Qualled made what is notoriously a difficult transition more manageable and gave me the tools to succeed in my new role in tech sales. It provided me the blueprint for how to be ready for an interview, how to prepare for a sales call, and how to close both. These skills coalesced from the online training and the completion of the in-person boot camp and came together just in time to weather the strain of literally moving my family across the country, missing a connecting flight but still getting to my interview on time.

If finding comfort and clarity despite chaos sounds like your kind of challenge and you’re interested in a rewarding and exciting career in tech sales, then you should be applying to Tech Qualled right now. For those who have served, being a veteran will always be a part of our identities. As for me, my suit’s hanging bag is now my carry-on; but more importantly, I have an opportunity to work for an amazing and exciting company. I now have a plan for the next year to forge my identity, voice, and confidence in my new role at an exciting FinTech company while becoming top salesmen.

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Mark Rothschild is a former Navy helicopter pilot, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and recent Tech Qualled candidate. He transitioned out of the Navy in August and is launching his sales career at nCino, a North Carolina based FinTech company and worldwide leader in cloud banking.

Army Aviation Officer Joins Tech Qualled

Katie has 10 years of Army Aviation experience. As a former dual military family, Katie understands the challenges veterans are facing when transitioning and she believes that all veterans deserve a fair chance at pursuing their passions which is why she joined the Tech Qualled team. Katie is responsible for ensuring candidates have the best possible experience in the Tech Army Aviation OfficerQualled program and most importantly that they find a high-tech sales role that fits both the candidate’s needs and that of their family. Katie is a graduate of Providence College in Rhode Island and most recently earned her MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Katie lives in Goleta, CA with her husband, an active duty Army Aviation Officer and her three children. Katie enjoys running, spending time on the beach and playing golf. As a native New Englander Katie is a passionate Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan.

Navy Veteran Joins Cima Solutions Group

Lewisville, TexasJune 5, 2017: Today, Cima Solutions Group announced the newest member of their team, Kevin Snodgrass. Kevin, a Navy Veteran joins Cima as Account Executive in North Texas.

Prior to joining Cima, Kevin graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland wNavy Veteranhere he majored in Economics and General Engineering. After serving 6 ½ years on active duty aboard various US Navy warships, Kevin joined DeGolyer and MacNaughton in 2013. At D&M, Kevin served as an Economist, appraising oil fields and reservoirs all across the globe, but focusing primarily on European and African assets for major, integrated oil companies.

“At Cima, we’re constantly investing in key personnel to continually deliver reliable, efficient IT solutions to our clients,” says John Alday, CEO of Cima Solutions Group. “Kevin’s professional and military experience and the training he was provided at Tech Qualled will prove to be a great addition to our already strong team. We’re thrilled to have this Navy Veteran as part of the Cima family.”

Kevin made the switch to high tech sales after learning that a fellow Naval Academy graduate, Justin Ossola, had co-founded Tech Qualled which trains military veterans for careers in high tech sales. Tech Qualled, through its 9-week training program called the Launchpad Academy, also helps candidates secure job offers upon graduating from the program at top IT companies like Cima.

“For veterans without prior sales or industry engineering experience, Tech Qualled is the only way to break into high tech sales,” said Ossola. “You get a solid foundation of networking fundamentals, solutions, and industry trends to kick start your learning process.”

“The Tech Qualled organization is first-class. Their model leverages our experience as military officers, in technical leadership roles, to develop the key skills necessary to confidently sit across from business leaders and sell.” said Snodgrass. “ The entire program, which draws its true strength from the founders and the simply amazing team of professionals they have assembled, has left me well-prepared and eager to make an impact in a B2B sales role.”

Kevin and his wife Amanda have been married for 10 years and currently live in Flower Mound, Texas with their two young sons.

About Tech Qualled: Tech Qualled is committed to enhancing the lives of military veterans by training and placing them into rewarding careers in high technology. For more information on Tech Qualled visitwww.staging.techqualled.flywheelsites.com.

Full press release here


Tech Qualled Announces Virtual Account Executive Track

Starting in July of 2017 (Cohort 7) Tech Qualled, will begin offering two tracks: the Account Executive (AE) Track and the Virtual Account Executive (VAE) Track. All of this is provided at no cost to the candidate.

The VAE Track prepares our candidates for careers in virtual sales roles in the B2B tech industry. Being on a virtual sales team carries a lot of benefits including greater predictability, a more collegial environment and no travel. For transitioning veterans that want to be in a competitive account executive role with closer leadership support but are looking for a bit more stability in their life, the VAE Track is a great option.

For more information or to talk to a Tech Qualled recruiter, please visit Get Qualled.

 

Tech Industry Opportunities for Veterans

Tech Qualled and Venture Technologies are creating opportunities in the tech industry for US Veterans

Building on to Venture Tech’s investment in the US, we recruit from Tech Qualled to find the best and brightest –America’s own military veterans who are bringing the leadership and problem solving skills they learned in the service, into the tech industry.

“We understand returning veterans have a drive to continue serving our country and they bring the dedication, focus and drive that aligns with their military background,” said Venture Technologies Business Applications Group President Paul Demes. “They’re able to thrive in high pressure environments, build solid customer relationships and motivate those around them.”

The US tech industry is extremely challenging for service members to break into if they don’t have deep experience; however, the lingering shortage of high quality, high tech B2B salespeople has created a talent gap.

Co-Founder and CEO of Tech Qualled, Jim Sherriff, started the company in 2015 as a way to give veterans the skills they needed to assimilate back into the workforce in an industry that many didn’t have access to due to lack of experience or training. Sherriff spent more than 30 years in executive leadership roles at both HP and Cisco.

While Jim and his wife Karen were participating in the Fellowship Program at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, they met Nick Breedlove and Justin Ossola, both graduates of the United States Naval Academy and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Together they partnered to develop the innovative, mission-driven company.

Tech Qualled’s mission is to enhance the lives of military veterans by training and placing them into rewarding customer-facing careers in high technology.

“We made a commitment to create this program for veterans, providing them with a customized learning environment and access to new, previously barricaded career paths in high technology,” said Tech Qualled Co-Founder Justin Ossola. “Venture Technologies has hired more candidates than any of our other partners. Their enthusiasm and involvement with our Launchpad Academy is a testimony to their dedication and commitment in getting our returning service members hired in fulfilling, lucrative roles.”

The Tech industry’s approach to hiring and training Veterans

Venture Tech is following the lead of several partners and tech giants like Cisco, Oracle, and Microsoft in the commitment to hire and train veterans.

Cisco is a founding member of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of companies committed to hiring 300,000 veterans by 2020. In addition, Cisco’s Veterans Enablement and Troop Support (VETS) employee organization provides mentoring and support to active and retired military personnel and their families.

Cisco Networking Academy courses at military bases have helped more than 66,000 military personnel develop information and communications technology (ICT) skills since 1997. In addition, 330,000+ veterans have been hired through the Veterans Job Mission, of which Cisco is a founding member.

Oracle also supports a broad range of efforts that provide veterans and injured veterans with opportunities to build professional networks and find civilian jobs that build onto their skills. The Oracle University Workforce Development Program (WDP) is a global program with over 140 partner schools in North America. Partner schools range from large universities to small and mid-sized private training companies.

How Venture Tech supports the Reshoring Initiative

Hiring and training military service members aren’t the only ways we aim to make an impact. Venture Technologies has its own US-based data centers managed by US help desk support. We will continue to keep hires in the US and partner with companies doing the same.

The mission of the Reshoring Initiative is to bring good, well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the United States by assisting companies to more accurately assess their total cost of offshoring.

Whether or not recent economic policies have an effect, the fact is many companies are hiring more US workers — and quickly. Companies are increasingly recognizing that costs, risks and strategic impacts previously ignored are large enough to overcome the shrinking emerging market wage advantages.

Tech companies known for their large-scale repatriation of US manufacturing include Oracle, Google, Intel and IBM.

The Reshoring Initiative aims to balance the $500 billion/year trade deficit, thus bringing back four million manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

Reshoring Objectives 

  • 4 Million manufacturing jobs
  • Cut US budget deficit by 50%
  • Reduce unemployment about 4% points
  • Strengthen the middle class
  • 30% increase in manufacturing
  • 25% extra annual capital equipment investment (If spread over 20 years)
  • Allow productivity and growth in manufacturing employment

Original post can be found here.

Veterans and the Speed of Trust Importance

I recently read an interesting book called the Speed of Trust that outlines the impact of trust in organizations. Coveting trust as the single greatest asset any company can have, the author, Stephen Covey, argues that without trust an organization cannot operate at optimal speed and will therefore lose efficiencies and increase costs. Think about it — trust is critical to almost any relationship we have: in the office or at home, with our doctor or our elected officials. Naturally, certain relationships require more trust than others, however, the absence of trust is disabling.  I’m sure most of us have experienced how difficult it can be to lose the trust of someone else. Decisions become fraught with suspicion, simple communication turns complicated and everything slows down. This made me wonder how trust plays a part for military veterans that are taking off the uniform and assimilating into civilian life.

Having conducted thousands of informational calls with veterans and assisted them with various aspects of their transition, I’ve come to realize that building trust is a critical factor for them. Trust acts like glue, and just like in the military, relationships that lack trust can severely hamper your chances of success. I’ve found that veterans are not only perceived as being highly trustworthy, but they are usually very trusting of others as well. Here are a few tips for veterans on how to show (and not just say) to others that you value trust and, in the process, build trust with key stakeholders.

Get Better

Continuous improvement is not just a buzzword. If an organization is going to stay competitive in today’s environment, constant self-evaluation, market adaptation, and retooling talent are common practices. Resultantly, companies look for employees that take serious their commitment to self-improvement. The military’s commitment to providing its service members with continuous training and education allows veterans the opportunity to invest in getting better. And when you can display to others that you care about learning and growing professionally, you are signaling to them that you acknowledge the challenges of a rapidly changing environment. Taking an online course, working on a technical certification and getting involved with a mentorship program are all ways to actively get better. This shows that you care and that you are aligned with the dynamics that drive the market. Ultimately, it will help build high trust relationships with important stakeholders (and gatekeepers).

Confront Reality

Many would agree that the unique experience and, at times, brutal reality that many veterans have endured during their military service makes them easier to trust. One piece of advice I find myself repeatedly giving to veterans is to not rest on your laurels. As someone transitioning away from one ecosystem and into another, the reality is that there will most likely be a lot of gaps in knowledge and experience. People who don’t fully understand the mission and lifestyle of the military may not be able to fully understand where you are coming from. Don’t shy away from this. When developing relationships, it’s important to hit these gaps head-on. Turn areas of concern into trust-building mechanisms. Addressing the elephant in the room signals to others that you 1) are genuine and have the courage to tackle the “undiscussable”, and 2) you are comfortable opening up and see value in receiving input from others to solve problems. When I speak with veterans that are completely honest about their weaknesses and challenges, my stance immediately shifts toward “this person could really use my help” and “they clearly care about my input”. Being able to humbly and appropriately speak to past failures, current deficiencies and future concerns and fears can build immediate trust with others.

Keep Commitments

When I met my current business partner – who has hired many veterans over his 35-year career as a high- tech executive – I asked him why he felt military veterans made great employees. Now, that’s a tricky veteransquestion to answer, especially when the question is coming from a veteran and directed toward someone who isn’t. What surprised (and impressed) me most was the simplicity and confidence in his answer: “veterans do what they say they are going to do”. He followed up with a number of other qualities, but it was clear his primary message was that he felt veterans are very good at keeping their commitment.

Several studies have shown that keeping promises is the number one contributing factor in creating an ethical culture. Not surprisingly, breaking promises is the leading contributor to distrust in an organization. If you say you are going to forward your resume to someone by close of business, do it. If you promise to connect a fellow veteran with a professional connection you have, do it. Being a committed person means you can be trusted. Whether you are job hunting, networking or it’s your first day on the job, successful people find a value-added reason to make a commitment – and then keep it.

 

Justin Ossola is the co-founder of Tech Qualled, a boutique recruiting company dedicated to training and preparing transitioning veterans for success in the high tech space. He is a 13-year Navy veteran, U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard graduate and a former Oracle sales consultant.

Tech Sales Executives Join Tech Qualled Team

U.S. Special Operations Forces recognize a few guiding principles that are inherent to mission success in the community. The first SOF Truth is succinct and incisive: “Humans are more important than hardware.” Tech Qualled also recognizes that people—not equipment—make the critical difference, whether on the battlefield or in high tech sales, and is proud to welcome two tech sales executives Chris Hurst and Dart West to the team. Chris and Dart bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in the high tech sales industry to an already talented team focused on helping veterans find successful careers—not just jobs—in the dynamic and exciting tech space.

Chris Hurst brings over 35 years in technology sales, sales leadership, strategy and planning with Sun Microsystems, Juniper Networks, and Cisco Systems. Chris met Tech Qualled CEO and Co-Founder Jim Sherriff while at Sun Microsystems, and was excited when he heard about Jim’s idea to help transitioning veterans. His father a WWII veteran, and himself a longtime supporter of the USO, Chris hoped for an opportunity to contribute to Tech Qualled. With his recent retirement from Cisco Systems as Vice President of Sales Strategy and Planning, that goal has become a reality.

Chris will join Jim as a primary sales instructor for Account Executive Candidates during the culminating 2-week boot camp, where candidates integrate what they have learned about the high tech industry and the sales process during intensive and demanding role-playing scenarios. In addition to his focus on teaching candidates how to successfully prospect and build their initial 30/60/90 day sales plans, Chris will alternate primary sales instructor duties with Jim, enabling Tech Qualled to further scale operations and help an increasing number of veterans transition to successful and rewarding careers in the high tech industry—a mission that Chris passionately supports. Chris lives in Austin with his wife and 15 year old son.

Dart West joins the team as Technical Advisor following his retirement after a 40-year career in the high tech industry. Dart enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17 as a Data Systems Technician on nuclear submarines, including the USS Spadefish, USS Dallas, and USS Baton Rouge, where he developed his passion for technical systems. Following his time in the service, Dart worked as a sales engineer, culminating in 16 years at Cisco Systems working in the sales organization as a Senior Systems Engineering Manager helping Cisco’s largest enterprise customers build world class infrastructures.

Dart credits the Navy with teaching him not just the technical skills to be successful, but most importantly the fundamental discipline, organization, and people skills to be effective in the business world, sales in particular. As a result, Dart feels an obligation to utilize his skill and passion for teaching to help other veterans make a successful transition out of the military and into the high tech sales. In his role as Technical Advisor, Dart will evaluate and help revise Tech Qualled’s curriculum to maintain relevancy in an ever-changing and dynamic industry, while continuing to distill and explain key technical concepts to maximize learning value and subject matter retention for Tech Qualled Candidates. Dart lives in the Dallas area with his wife.

Tech Qualled is excited to start 2017 with such strong additions to the team who share a passion for helping veterans. If you are a transitioning veteran looking for a challenging and rewarding career, are passionate about technology, and have a strong desire to help people solve their toughest problems, contact Tech Qualled and apply today!