Join us each month for a series highlighting the unique career journey of employees.
This month, we talk to Marketing Operations expert Michael McNeal.
I started at Centric on February 29 (leap day), 2016. It was a leap day, so I am not sure if my Centric anniversary is every year or every four years.
Prior to Centric, I did marketing consulting locally in Seattle. My clients included Microsoft and T-Mobile. Before that, I worked at Toyota and Expedia, where I had significant marketing responsibilities. I was at each for five years.
I’ve also worked at a few startups in different roles, including running development teams. My background working for a variety of companies across industries and roles has been instrumental in my career. It’s provided me with a unique perspective and experiences that I can apply in my current position.
2. What are some unique/funny/interesting stories you can share about your journey?
While I’ve had a few, here is one story that comes to mind:
- While at Toyota, it was great fun to do vehicle launches and it was especially fun to do the FJ Cruiser launch as it was done without any traditional marketing for the first waves – so no TV commercials, no print media. The target audience was authentic off-roaders so we hosted lots of events; off-road meets with Toyota and Jeep four-wheeler clubs; and competitions in the Baja desert races.
- I am old enough to have enjoyed the internet boom / dot-com bubble and experienced first-hand the money being thrown around at that time and benefitted by negotiating a rent free hours in the San Francisco Bay area. It was a fun time, but did teach me that regardless of the money you have (or have access to), you need to have a solid business plan and management team. Widgets don’t sell themselves and not everyone needs a widget!
3. If you had to pinpoint a definitive moment in your career, what would that be?
That’s a hard thing, but there are two things that stick out:
- The first moment was when I made the decision to get my MBA. I decided to pursue that goal after realizing that business and marketing professionals were the ones driving my work (as an engineer) decisions. I wanted to be involved in defining my own work.
- The second definitive moment for me would be when I gained the respect of someone who would later become a mentor and friend to me. I am usually secure in speaking my mind, and I think that is partially because I am an engineer and data-driven. In this particular instance, I was not afraid to debate our company priorities with the CEO, and maintained my composure and tact even while the CEO was becoming a bit confrontational. My future friend and mentor was CFO at the time and in the room for the discussion. Although we had interacted previously, it wasn’t until after that conversation that our relationship developed.
4. What motivates you and drives you to keep going?
I have short-term, daily motivations as well as longer term ones.
Since every day is different, each with unique tasks and often with competing priorities, my short-term goal is to the “win the day.” What that means: Each day is different, but I measure each day at the end to see if it was “win.” I try to have a record of my tasks for the day, but with days being very dynamic, my “list” often is spread among various formats (digitally, napkins, etc.).
My longer term motivation is to be creative, innovative and an educator in the area of marketing and technology – areas that are advancing at a rate unparalleled in history. That’s exciting to me.
5. How does your current role fit into your career path/goals?
In my current role as the MOPS Lead for Centric, I am able to help potential clients understand what marketing operations and automation can do for them, as well as change the way they are doing business and interacting with their customers.
A part of this is thinking of creative solutions for non-traditional customers of marketing operations. Another part of this is tapping into the collective knowledge of fellow Centric employees who are always willing to share their expertise and views.
This role aligns with my career goals by providing me the opportunity to meet clients, understand their various industries and needs, and be innovative in creating solutions to meet those needs. It also helps my goal of becoming a thought leader in the marketing technology space.
6. Please describe consulting at Centric. What is this job like? Describe what your typical day looks like.
Centric has a great culture and people, which is the first thing that comes to mind when people ask me to describe Centric.
My job is different every day, and while it can be hectic, it’s also interesting and fun to me. So the typical day is anything but routine.
I usually plan my day based on the existing work and meetings I have on my plate. I also start by doing a quick review of my email to see what’s changed that may impact my work for the day, or my time to do that work.
Common elements in my days usually involve Skype conference calls or meetings, client solution development, and working to better define the Marketing Operations service offering to Centric and our clients.
I also often work on collateral to support our MOPs offering, which can involve a lot of presentations. I keep telling myself that PowerPoint is my friend, but sometimes it can feel like “death by PowerPoint.”
7. How did you find Centric? Or, did we find you? What did your recruiting process look like?
I found out about Centric through a former co-worker, Heather Andersen, who had started at Centric a few months prior and was happy with her choice and role.
My recruiting process started with an email I sent to the Seattle recruiting manager for a job listing I was interested in. Unknown to me, the job wasn’t even in Seattle. As timing would have it, Centric Seattle’s recruiting manager had reached out to me on LinkedIn just minutes before I emailed her. Coincidence? Karma? Hmmmm…
The next step was a phone screen with the recruiting manager, and then a sit-down conversation with the lead of the Seattle office. The meeting served as more of a “get to know you” time for us to evaluate each other and determine if there was a culture and professional fit (though work experience was also discussed).
Needless to say things worked out, I have been with Centric since February 2016.
8. Is your practice currently hiring? Or, is the company currently hiring for roles like yours? If so, what positions are open?
Yes, the Seattle office is hiring. Currently, we are looking for the following roles:
- Marketing Automation Engineer –Salesforce Platform
- Senior Full Stack Developer
- Software Architect
9. What mix of skills, personality, and values do you find most important for a consulting role like yours?
For a role like mine, I would say the three things that are most valuable are:
- Strong communication skills – These are essential. This entails both listening and speaking. The capacity to listen: to clients, co-workers, and industry peers is as important as what you say.
- The ability to think in multiple ways – Not only tactically, but strategically and operationally, too. This is critical to be able to assess the information that you have from multiple viewpoints and provide solutions that (hopefully) address the problem or opportunity.
- Personal integrity – Being true to yourself and consistent in purpose, voice and actions, both personally and professionally, will get your far. Your integrity is your signature. It’s what people remember you by.
10. What tips would you share with future Centric recruits?
Enjoy the ride! And, keep learning!
Centric’s culture supports both of these, which I think should be important to everyone. That’s something that you won’t find at every company, especially in the consulting world.
Finally, as the saying goes, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 😉