Nerd Journey 023: John’s 3-Year Check-In at VMware Part 1

Welcome to episode 23 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode, we discuss John’s 3 Year Check-in at VMware, Part 1.

Original Recording Date: 2019-1-26

Topics – John’s 3 Year Check-in at VMware, John’s Observations

1:30 Topics Begin

  • How did John fare at Michael Jordan trivia since this is episode 23?
  • John and Nick have hire dates that are roughly 2 years apart.

4:31 What Has John Learned?

  • 4:31 Core job functions
    • Reached competence in year 1
    • Explaining the portfolio
      • Virtual desktop was a blind spot
      • Portfolio much larger than it once was
      • Understanding where these products have relevance to customer business problems
    • Coming up with a good company elevator pitch was important. John gives the example of having to do this at a career fair.
    • Understanding customer business issues was new to John.
    • Building relationships within customer organizations and being relevant
      • How close does John see the role of the SE to the account representative?
      • We have to know where our solutions will definitely and when to rule them out based on the situation (first level technical qualification).
      • John supports two account reps.
      • An account rep will be focused on higher level relationships within the organization that a SE may not have.
  • 14:20 Extended job functions
    • Built up to competence in year two
    • Extending relationships with the VMware business units to product team members, technical support team members, etc.
    • Using large events like VMworld / others to build better relationships with customers
  • 18:16 Building an internal network / determining career trajectory
    • Competency in year three
    • Build stronger relationships with the partner ecosystem
      • John had to learn the value to the company from going through a partner / reseller.
      • Sometimes deals are better taken directly than through a reseller.
      • Partners may need to help with implementation or help customers manage support contracts. John gives a nice example of when he leaned on a partner for help as a customer.
      • John cites participation in communities such as Spiceworks as a way to get some information on how the ecosystem works.
    • Other organizations within the company like OCTO (Office of the CTO)
    • Relationships with tech marketing folks

25:02 – What is the Job?

  • 25:02 Customer focus
    • It’s very important to understand what the customer does on a very basic level (their product, how they sell, what their value is in the market, who their competition is, how they view themselves, etc.).
    • Customers need to know you’re willing to help before sharing certain information with you. It comes down to the types of relationships one has within the organization.
    • Understanding customer organizational structure and how they measure success is important before proposing any solutions.
    • Overcoming internal challenges like politics and personnel takes time.
      • John didn’t see the big picture of making the organization / department successful as a customer and had to learn it after leaving the customer side.
    • John had to learn who in the organization has purchased from us, the level of success they have experienced, and how the expanding portfolio is addressing the expanding organizational challenges.
    • There’s an education element to this job as well. If customers don’t know our capabilities, we cannot help them.
    • Listen to what John shares about multiple IT groups existing within organizations and the variance he’s seen across the board.
  • 43:59 Customer business problem focus
    • Executive Initiatives
    • Business Initiatives
    • Technology Initiatives
    • VMware Solutions
    • This required John to train his mind in a new way of thinking.
    • Check out Episode 16 and Episode 4 for our discussions of how managers may / may not understand the big picture and where your work / project fits into the goals an organization.
      • John feels like this problem is more common in smaller organizations.
      • Putting structure into an IT organization may not be prioritized.
  • 50:56 Product focus
    • The portfolio continues to advance and expand (acquisitions, etc.).
    • Be aware of new operating models such as cloud, edge, and managed.
    • We must keep up to date to stay relevant to customers.
  • 53:21 Personal development
    • Expanded knowledge of the marketplace
      • John must maintain relevance in areas that are relevant to customers (AWS / GCP / Azure, storage, networking, security, compute).
    • Check out Episode 6 and Episode 7 on areas of training and training adjacencies.
    • Relevance to other employers may just be a side effect of what we do. Organizations must focus on being employees engaged.
  • The next episode will be Nick grilling John. It’s coming….
  • Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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