An in-depth look into the role of an Associate, Client Service Team
Based on his experience and team structure, Vasilis Hondros, Senior Manager, Client Service Team, gives us an in-depth view of the role of an Associate, its responsibilities, day-to-day tasks and opportunities for growth.
Before diving into the role of an Associate, we should briefly look into how Dialectica’s Client Service Team is structured and what exactly it is that it does.
The team is currently based in Athens and in Montreal. Depending on location, size, structure and client needs, each sub-Client Service Team consists of Associates, Senior Associates, Associate Managers, Managers, Senior Managers and a Vice President. Each Dialectica client has a dedicated point of contact assigned to their account, in order to provide unparalleled and customized service tailored to their requirements. For example, a team might be servicing a world-leading investment or consulting company, while another team might be working with a private equity firm. Dedicated to helping them collect real-time information and market insights from top industry experts across different markets, businesses and regions, our Client Service Team gives its clients access to the most relevant expert profiles for each project, enabling them to make smart and well-informed business decisions.
Now let’s talk about the role of the Associate in this complex, yet exciting structure, by answering three “Frequently Asked Questions”.
1. What is it that Client Service Associates do?
Once an Associate is hired, they go through tailored training with our Learning and Development team to find out more about how the expert network industry, as well as our clients and experts, work. Those first weeks of training are crucial to the professional growth of an Associate — even beyond Dialectica — as they gain invaluable knowledge about how complex businesses operate and prepare themselves to provide excellent service and value to top international clients and experts.
In the first couple of months post-training, the responsibilities of an Associate are focused on understanding how to do smart research by identifying the right experts for each client project. To successfully engage with them, Associates should first have a great understanding of the project itself and what it is that the client needs in order to relay it to the experts. Each project can be completely different; one day you could be connecting a private equity firm with experts to better understand the sub-Saharan African telecommunications market, while the next day assisting a strategy consultancy looking into the growth outlook for solar energy in the Middle East.
At this early stage, a new Associate will also start communicating with the experts they’ve sourced. At the same time, other more senior members of the team, such as an experienced Associate, an Associate Manager or a Manager will be taking on the role of the project manager, leading and organizing a project and briefing the rest of the team on their project tasks and responsibilities.
In approximately six months’ time — depending on one’s progress — an Associate is getting more and more involved in the project and starts to work more independently. By taking on more responsibilities such as client communications and developing their project management skills, they are getting exposed and involved in each stage of project management from planning to delivery and evaluation. This includes communicating directly with the client via email or a phone call to find out more about the project following the initial brief, asking for clarifications and requesting more details to ensure that the team has all the information required to identify the right experts and sharing the experts’ profiles with the client.
By that point in time, they will also have spent enough time with the team and become way more experienced with the projects and thus have the opportunity to coach new team members. Gathering knowledge through your own experience, learning how to translate it into learnings and sharing those learnings with your teammates is a vital skill that will help you become a future leader.
2. What’s next and how does an Associate get promoted to a more managerial role?
A career in our Client Service Team is not just a job; it’s an opportunity to build an accelerated career, unlock competitive performance compensation, live and work in different cities around the world and develop key professional skills. Dialectica is growing rapidly year by year and our goal is to establish a global presence with 1,000 team members across Americas, EMEA, and APAC in the next five years. This means that we are looking for people eager to take on responsibilities and lead their own business unit within a couple of years after joining our team.
While we’re focused on helping our people speed up their career advancement, we’re also dedicated to building the best homegrown talent; all current CST members in Athens and Montreal started from the position of the Associate before climbing the ladder to become Senior Associates, Associate Managers, Managers, Senior Managers and Vice Presidents. As soon as an Associate has gained the necessary skills and knowledge and reached research excellence, they are entrusted with project management responsibilities. Starting from undertaking small projects under their manager’s guidance, they continue to manage more complex requests as they become more experienced. Another crucial step of evaluation before the promotion is coaching. Once the Associate has excelled in research and project management, the Associate will have to prove their coaching capabilities and coach a new member of the team.
Apart from project management and coaching, the Associate is of course evaluated against key performance indicators and their approach towards Dialectica’s unique company culture. Finally, in order to ensure that each person is fully ready to take on more responsibilities, Associates will need to be members of the team for at least 9 to 18 months before getting promoted to Associate Managers.
3. What does the working day of a Client Service Associate look like?
Their working day always starts with a morning team meeting, where the team is discussing the progress of each existing project, new client requests that have been received and each project manager is distributing tasks to the rest of the team. Following the morning meeting, it is time for research — sourcing the right experts for each project by looking online and on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, as well as Dialectica’s own database, which applies algorithms to identify the best expert profiles for each request. Starting from working on the experts’ responses received overnight and follow ups, the day is continued by looking for the right experts for each newly received client project. After identifying them, the Associate will need to speak with the potential experts to verify that their expertise matches the project’s demands and if suitable, ask them whether they would like to get involved and then look into their availability for a direct and confidential discussion with the client. The next step would be to create the expert’s profile, summarizing their experience in the relevant field and while often sharing some quotes that the expert might provide us, in order to demonstrate their knowledge to the client.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Associate position is that it gives you the opportunity to actually grow, both by developing essential business skills and by interacting with high level clients and experts working in top global organizations. Through each daily task, Associates are learning how to conduct research, communicate with consultants, project managers and c-level executives, manage complex requests and they are getting exposed to how private equity firms and consultancies operate. After the first months of working with a client and through the trainings of our CST-tailored learning and development program, an Associate has seen the full lifecycle of a project and as they progress their career within Dialectica they start to develop more skills, such as full-on project management, client negotiations, people management, and coaching.
At the very beginning, the role of a Client Service Associate might seem demanding or even challenging. However, as you get a deeper understanding of the client and their needs, discover what the project is all about, move from conducting research to taking over client communications and testing your project management skills, the day-to-day tasks become all the more interesting and really exciting. And the more experience you gain, you’re getting closer and closer to progressing fast and moving up the ladder within Dialectica.
Click here to join our Client Service team in Athens.
Click here to join our Client Service team in Montreal.
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