Finding Ways to Help

Finding Ways to Help

Adrian Williams, Account Executive

There’s a very real connection between working in sales and having a desire to help people. My role here at Effectual puts me in a position to have conversations with our customers so they get a clearer understanding of how technology and modernization can solve their business challenges. I get to work with engineers and delivery teams to determine the best solutions for unique use cases and help customers plan for the future.

I’ve always been drawn to helping others, and I get a real thrill from that part of my job – knowing that I’m contributing to improvement. But I had a very different career path in mind when I was in college, where I earned a degree in health administration, and I was planning to provide help in a more direct way. Unfortunately, the economy wasn’t exactly primed for me to enter the healthcare field at that time, and I decided to change course.

I’ve always been drawn to helping others, and I get a real thrill from that part of my job

Making a significant life change like that after years of study is definitely daunting, and it wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but I’m the type who’s up for a challenge. I was already comfortable with technology and, with the helpful guidance an uncle in IT, I got some formal training and earned networking and security certifications to get me prepared for a career in IT.

To be honest, the timing could not have been better for my transition, which was a strong indication that I had made the right choice. Cloud adoption and modernization initiatives were just starting to pick up, and companies were realizing that they couldn’t look at their internal IT as just an expense or some add-on, but a tool that could give them a competitive edge if wielded correctly.

Since then, my education and previous work experience (including some time spent working with a tissue and organ donation center in Maryland) has put me in a unique position to help customers in the public sector as well as health and human services. So, while the type of assistance I provide may have changed, I still get opportunities to help people every day. I’ve also been lucky to gain enough experience in IT to provide guidance to friends and family who are interested in the industry, ensuring that some of the people coming up behind me have insights I wish I would have had early on.

There are a lot of different ways to help people, in both personal and professional capacities. Communicating with people and building relationships make it easy to find ways to help others if that’s what you hope to do. It can also open your eyes to situations where you can benefit from the help of others, whether you realize it or not.

There are a lot of different ways to help people, in both personal and professional capacities.

Effectual has a strong, organic culture of customer empathy and partnership. There’s a natural fusion between the company’s culture and my own approach toward selling and customer interactions. This gives me the opportunity to establish clear and open communications to get to the root of what customers need, and then match those needs to helpful solutions.

Building High Performing Teams & Trusted Customer Relationships

Building High Performing Teams & Trusted Customer Relationships

Shelby Cunningham, Director of Cloud Development

When I look back at my extra-curricular activities as a kid, I realize they were probably foundational for my current role at Effectual. From tap dancing to cheerleading, piano playing to water skiing, I learned coordination, team-building, creativity, and how to adapt quickly in a “fluid” environment. Most of all, they were both challenging and fun, which is how it feels to lead a large development team for a growing entrepreneurial company.

Tech has always felt like a natural fit for me. I started my career managing marketing and overseeing development teams for software startups, which evolved into having my own strategic consulting agency. Those experiences led to management roles in client success, partner relations, business development, and product marketing –positions that required a balance of tech know-how, business skills, and relationship-building with customers, partners, and employees.

Tech has always felt like a natural fit for me.

I joined Five Talent as a program manager several years before the company was acquired by Effectual. As a custom software developer, we always had a high volume of projects with really diverse use cases. This pipeline and our partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) made continual learning a strong cultural value for us. To deliver the best solutions for our customers, we had to keep pace with innovation. This is why our developers hold so many high level AWS certifications and why they continue to pursue this expertise as part of Effectual.

Today, I lead Effectual’s professional services development team. My responsibilities include driving project management and continuous improvement as well as ensuring we are meeting (and exceeding) the expectations of our customers.

The best part of my role here is cultivating long term relationships with customers knowing that our team can build solutions that will have a real impact on the success of their businesses. From the time we start our discovery process to when we launch a product, I want our customers to know we are partners working towards the same goal. That kind of authentic collaboration yields amazing results, and it isn’t hard when your team includes some of the smartest, most talented people in the industry.

The best part of my role here is cultivating long term relationships with customers knowing that our team can build solutions that will have a real impact on the success of their businesses.

Our team is expanding fast as Effectual grows. Because of this, I am focused on building high functioning teams where people are engaged and challenged in their work but also have time to explore new technologies that interest them. Keeping up with innovation is critical to what we do here.

My new interest outside of work is riding motorcycles with my husband. I’ve got a Yamaha now but have my Harley picked out. It isn’t water skiing, but it’s the perfect metaphor for where I am in my career. Moving fast, enjoying the ride, with miles of open road ahead.

Problem Solving Through Continual Learning

Problem Solving Through Continual Learning

Ryan Comingdeer, Chief Technology Officer

My introduction to computer science was a 7th grade programming class where I learned BASIC. The class opened up a new world to explore that had me immediately hooked. By the time I started high school I knew I was going to follow a career in technology. Some people have a more circuitous path to their vocation, but I was fortunate to discover mine early on and seize the opportunity to build a really fulfilling career doing what I love.

In my opinion, the most important skill in this field is the ability to solve problems through continual learning. Technology is always changing, and the pace of innovation demands constant attention in order to stay ahead of new tools, services, and solutions. That is why 40% of my job every single day is dedicated to learning-and why it is a such a huge part of our company culture.

Technology is always changing, and the pace of innovation demands constant attention in order to stay ahead of new tools, services, and solutions.

Learning and curiosity are values that also extend to my role as a father to five daughters, age 8 to 14 years. By teaching them computer science, I am trying to give them the confidence to learn about technology and apply it to real world situations and challenges. This is one of the ways I stay involved with their personal lives and hopefully prepare them for the future. It also helps me stay relevant because I have to do my research to understand what their world is going to look like when they become adults.

Teaching my own kids about technology has led to other opportunities to inspire the next generation of innovators. To support students in the Bend community, I teach a 5th grade technology-focused STEM program at my children’s school, host local Hour of Code events, and work with the Oregon Department of Education to integrate computer science into the K-12 curriculum. At work, I mentor recent computer science college grads starting their tech careers as part of the Apprenti internship program.

For myself, continual learning includes going after new AWS certifications, training in other cloud platforms, understanding the pros and cons of multiple stacks, testing new services, and keeping current on industry trends. However, the best opportunities for ongoing learning is working with our really talented developers on a broad portfolio of diverse projects.

Our professional services team typically has 40+ projects underway at any given time (IoT, mobile apps, web apps, big data, system integrations) that use 10-12 languages and multiple cloud providers. Even if I am not working directly on a project, I meet with my technical leadership team every week to review what we did, what worked, what did not, and to figure out what we can do better. This gives me a chance to learn alongside them and gather lessons learned as reference points for when I am talking to customers or recommending a new architecture.

For in-depth analysis, I like to pick a topic such as AI and do as much research as I can to understand what the top 5 vendors offer, the benefits of their solutions, the use cases, and the lessons learned thus far. I also follow a dozen blogs that cover new design patterns so I can compare technology stacks and spend at least an hour a night researching how to stay forward thinking on cloud native architecture.

If you want to deliver a relevant, valuable technology solution, you have to start by understanding the problem you are helping your customer solve.

Still, it is not enough to be a technical expert. As professional services providers, our job is enabling business outcomes with measurable results. If you want to deliver a relevant, valuable technology solution, you have to start by understanding the problem you are helping your customer solve. This includes pain points, opportunities, target audiences, business requirements, the competitive landscape, and more. That is why our solutions architects and developers are skilled technologists as well as big picture thinkers interested in how businesses and market dynamics work. I encourage us to ask WHY we are building something as much as HOW.

After spending the last 15 years focused on professional services, I am excited to embark on the next chapter of my career. Working with Effectual’s Modernization EngineersTM is giving me a whole new understanding of the life cycle of a technology solution. I am gaining a more comprehensive view of how to properly manage and monitor the solutions we build in a cloud environment for the long term. The collaboration is making me a better architect and a better technologist, with more learning ahead.