While Cameron and I are working on our next joint post I wanted to take the time to write an individual post about my transition from application development and delivery to a pre-sales focused role.
Originally, I did not want to go into sales, my background is in programming (specifically Computer Science focused on Game Design) and after college I followed what some might call a traditional path into application development and delivery working for Rockwell Automation. For those that don't know Rockwell is not a game design company, and while I was not doing game development I did enjoy deploying MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) and integrating enterprise applications together from the manufacturing floor up to the enterprise resource level.
After a few years in this role Rockwell made the move into advanced manufacturing analytics focusing on IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), Machine Learning, AR (Augmented Reality), and Edge Computing. I was able to transition to the analytics team and apply some of my game design skills there with IoT and AR application development. It was with this team that I got my first experiences in pre-sales. Due to maturity of the team the delivery group was also expected to help quote and size opportunities (pre-sales activities). This meant we were able to focus more on the use cases that customers had and design solutions to fit those needs (those of you who know my job title at Red Hat will see where this is going).
Helping potential customers understand how our software can solve their problems, requires an interesting set of skills. Associates need to have a strong technical understanding but also possess the ability to translate highly technical concepts (kubernetes, containers, machine learning or IIoT) to sometimes very non-technical people within a customer or partner. Coming directly from college you don't usually find people with these skills. You have people who have spent the last 4 years focusing on their majors (in this case Business or Computer Science), and you are essentially asking them to mix those in order to purchase software applications that satisfy a business need. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to build these skills when I worked at Rockwell. Being a part of a new program like advanced analytics allows you to develop a myriad of different skills like pre-sales consulting while also remaining a member of the post-sales delivery team.
From here my career path is pretty obvious. I accepted a Partner Solutions Architect position at Red Hat. The SA roles at Red Hat allow me to improve my technical translation skills. I am also helped by the prior experience I have with application development and delivery. Having this past "hands on" expertise has allowed me to seek out new partner types and provides a unique end-to-end view of enterprise solutions from what I have gathered in my current role of pre-sales and what I know from my prior role of post-sales and delivery. While I was at Rockwell I was of the opinion that an enterprise sales resource should have some insight and experience into delivery and application development. How can you sell something that you haven't used? It would be like a car salesman without a license who doesn't know how to drive. This position has only been strengthened when moving from Rockwell to Red Hat.
Normally I'll end these with some sort of call to action (go check out Red Hat Partners, post your ideas in the comments, etc) and while I would love to hear everyone's stories on how they got to where they are today, I am not sure if posting your story in the comments is the best method for this. That being said let me know how your stories differ from mine or if you have your own opinions on anything I said!