You Probably Shouldn’t Be A Developer Pt. 2

More tech opportunities abound!

If you haven’t read Part 1 of the series you can find it here.

For this post I tapped the people who make sure we all have awesome clients and projects to do.

Business Development

Meghan Hawes: Director of Client Services

I work really hard at getting to know [clients] as people … any hard conversations become easy because you get on really well.

What is your role?

I work with new clients to help them figure out how MetaLab can help them with their problems, what their goals are and how we can help them get there — along with how long it’s going to take and budget. Throughout the project I am the person that makes sure they are getting what they expected and that we are building the relationship to hopefully take on more work with the clients that we enjoy working with.

What is the path you took to get here?

A long and winding one ;)

I always knew that I wanted to work in a design/creative focused business, but not having an artistic bone in my body I struggled with how I would fit into this sort of an environment. So I decided to take a sales job, while I figured it out, because that seemed like a good idea at the time.

I worked sales in the Skateboard industry for 3 years — basically working with retail stores large (Active, Zumi’s, Pac Sun) and Small (your local corner skateboard shop) helping them figure out what sku’s they needed to carry, previewing upcoming seasons shoes and apparel and figuring out their orders. I discovered from this process that building relationships with people is the key to being successful at your job. I worked really hard at getting to know them as people, and the work stuff came easy after that because any hard conversations became easy because you got on really well. Being able to tell someone they need to pay their bills on time is much easier when you are able to do it over a beer, than having to send an email to a person you have never met. I eventually got sick of the season after season repetitive nature of sales, and was craving work in a business where we were creating something new and exciting. I tapped a cousin of mine on the shoulder who worked at an advertising agency to see if there were any roles for people like me, and he got me in at the bottom working in account services.

Over the years I continued to put into practice my initial learning of getting to know people and building a relationship with them, both internally and with clients and 12 years later I am still going strong.

What skills are essential to do your job successfully?

Communication — you have to be able to speak honestly and openly with people and sometimes have really difficult conversations.

Compromise — you are not always going to get your way, you have to be able to negotiate with clients and internal staff and find a way to make everyone happy, this always involves compromise of some sort

Being Level-Headed — product design & development is hectic, frustrating and full of unknowns. You have to be able to keep calm, listen to problems, think about solutions and try and make sure everyone working on a project has their eye on the same end goal.

If someone else wanted to get into this role what would your top 3 suggestions for them be?

  1. Intern — figure out if you like the industry and agency life. It isn’t for everyone, and interning for 3–4 months will tell you really quickly if it’s something that appeals to you. It is also a really accelerated way to get your foot in the door somewhere
  2. Take a design/dev course even if you don’t think you can do it — it will help you learn what others are doing on a daily basis and give you some basic knowledge
  3. Build relationships with the right people — I have found it’s all about who you know. Ask people for coffee who are doing jobs that you want. 99% of the time they will take you up on it, you will learn more in 30 minutes sitting across from someone and talking to them about what they do, then you will in 30 days researching on the internet. Networking and making connections is the best way to find a place that is right for you

Luke Des Cotes: Client Partner

It’s just about getting to the bottom of how and if my team can help them succeed…it’s a bit like counselling

What is your role?

My role as Client Partner meets somewhere at a cross-section of sales, strategy and account direction. My day to day work involves overseeing incredible teams that are building great products and acting as the primary point of contact to our clients. As such, I’m helping define the product strategy/goals, managing client expectations and relationship, ensuring quality of work and keeping a gauge on the team’s morale throughout the life of projects. On the other side of things, I help out with our company’s sales activities, which involves primarily speaking to new clients who want to work with us. In that process, it’s really about finding fit: culture fit (aka good people) + exciting project + winning business model = good partnership. When all those things come together, we end up with a happy team and a happy client.

What is the path you took to get here?

I took marketing in university with an eye towards brand campaign strategy, but quickly found myself in a sales track. While in school, I did an internship at a local design agency, cold calling local businesses to try to book meetings. Definitely wasn’t very glamorous work, but I found myself drawn to the thrill of the WIN. That started me down a path of agency sales, which I discovered to be so much more than product sales. In essence, agency sales is consultancy. I meet with clients who have pains that aren’t being met by their current teams or agencies and who genuinely need help. From there, it’s just about getting to the bottom of how and if my team can help them succeed…a bit like counselling. After doing that for 5 years, I joined MetaLab, where I was able to transition those skills into forming longer term relationships, where I can consult with clients over the course of our projects and be much more hands on in the work.

What skills are essential to do your job successfully?

The biggest thing is adaptability. No two days are alike and I’m forced to wear many many hats, so being able to adjust on the fly and fill in as needed is a major skill set that I use. The other skill is just plain listening. Consultancy is really about asking good questions and then listening as hard as you can to make sure you really GET what it is that your client (or internal team) is trying to tell you. Most of the time, if you listen hard enough, the pain points become obvious pretty quickly. The rest of the skills I use day to day are all teachable, but those are the two that have allowed me to be successful in these roles.

If someone else wanted to get into this role what would your top 3 suggestions for them be?

  1. Don’t be afraid to take a job in the trenches (ie. cold calling) if you think it’ll help give you the skills and experience needed to get where you want to go
  2. The more time you can spend speaking to clients in calls, or in person, the more comfortable you’ll get thinking on your feet, being okay with being unsure and stopping yourself from speaking so that you can just listen
  3. Find opportunities to be involved in projects. Sales is great experience, but if you can spend time as a project manager, involved in the day to day of project success, it’ll give you a different appreciation for the team that you’re selling and will help you understand how the work really gets done

David Tapp: Client Partner

Be authentic. Clients don’t want a yes man / woman

What is the path you took to get here?

I pursued an undergrad in commerce. After school, I got my first gig as a marketing coordinator for a software company. I then moved into account direction for a creative agency specializing in marketing and digital services. I wanted to try my hand at client side for a bit and became a marketing consultant for an exciting world first environmental project. After doing this for a few years, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into where the world was going in tech and found an opportunity to do so with MetaLab, who operates in an agency model for software. Haven’t looked back since!

What skills are essential to do your job successfully?

Using interpersonal and relational skills to make people enjoy and continue doing business with us.

Seeing around blind corners to avoid disaster and provide an optimal experience.

Being able to wear many many hats. Some days it’s sales, other days account direction or consulting, managing client happiness and maker/keeper of promises.

Ensuring the highest output possible from our teams to meet and exceed client expectations.

If someone else wanted to get into this role what would your top 3 suggestions for them be?

  1. Be adaptable and flexible. Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned; don’t sweat it, be prepared for it and respond accordingly
  2. Be authentic. Clients don’t want a yes man / woman. They want to work with someone they can trust. Sometimes that means disagreements, harsh feedback or differences of opinion. Embrace this
  3. Clients drive when they think you can’t. Think ahead about how things will play out and work with your teams to be prepared and deliver an A+ experience

Other Options

I’ve just scratched the surface of what roles are available within the tech industry so if none of the ones I covered spoke to you, don’t discouraged. There is a world of options out there including, but not limited to:

  • Product Manager
  • Designer
  • Researcher
  • Copy writer
  • Finance & accounting
  • Content manager
  • So so many others

If tech interests you, keep digging. There’s a place for you in the industry!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more questionably interesting posts, bad jokes and other “fun” stuff!

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