Tell us about your role at Tuum — what does a senior solution consultant do?
The solutions consultant is the glue between the sales lead of an opportunity and the product/implementation organisation in the “pre-sales” process. The solutions consultant’s (SC) job is to interpret the prospect requirements, understand their actual and latent pains and articulate how Tuum solutions or our third-party partnerships meet their needs. The SC team completes RFI’s/RFP’s, demos the solution, and helps prospects navigate through a sandboxing or proof of concept exercise. It is also part of the solution consultants’ role to provide feedback to the product organisation on what they see in the market in terms of demand or what they see competitors offering.
You have a diverse professional background — accountancy, computer science and business studies. How do you balance and leverage these different skills in your day-to-day work?
They have all played a part in where I am and what I do today. Studying computer science and business studies led to early positions managing IT systems and processes. This led to seeing the role of the “solutions consultant”. My accountancy experience was vital to my early consulting roles in implementing financial software solutions. I still fall back on some of this knowledge today as it is surprising how often, even now, you get into detailed conversations with prospects about their financial accounting needs alongside their core requirements. It is, after all, integral to any organisation today.
Can you recall a moment in your career when you had to step out of your comfort zone, and how did it contribute to your personal and professional growth?
Very clearly. The day, I decided to leave a steady “full-time” job and take up an opportunity to work as a “self-employed” implementation consultant for a software solution vendor. I’d had a role in selecting and deploying the solution in a business, and I had seen the role a delivery consultant played in the process of implementing the accounting software solution. I knew that was what I wanted to do. My parents were somewhat sceptical, but they had always supported my choices, and my then girlfriend, now wife of 28 years, said, “Go for it; what do you have to lose?” It was life-changing, set me on the road I’ve been on ever since in solution consulting, both pre-and post-sales, and opened up a world of opportunity and travel.
As someone with a rich life experience, including a 28-year-long marriage, what valuable insights or advice would you offer to your younger colleagues as they navigate the early stages of their careers and lives, and why?
Don’t be afraid to take a chance in life or career. It’s never “a mistake” or a “failure” if things don’t work out as planned, only an opportunity to learn something new and gain a new experience or perspective. If you don’t try, you will definitely never know. Also……“travel”. It’s so much easier when you have a limited number of commitments/bills or, dare I say, children. See the world, experience new cultures and meet new people. It will set you up for life.
Golf seems to be a significant part of your life. How did you get into it, and what do you enjoy most about the game?
My dad was a keen golfer, and some of my very favourite memories were of the two of us sharing time playing local courses or accompanying him on golf trips.
I enjoy the fresh air and exercise it brings but also the challenge of trying to get better at what I do. I may have been playing for 30 years, but only last October I hit the lowest round score I have ever achieved. The lesson being that you are never too old to improve a skill; the more you do something, the better you become.
Spending time with family is essential. Are there any specific activities or traditions you and your family enjoy together?
Sunday Lunch is a big one for us. A full Sunday roast of beef, pork, chicken or lamb is a firm British favourite and gives us one opportunity a week to try and get my two grown-up sons and my mother-in-law together around a table. Most Sunday mornings, I can be found in the kitchen preparing the vegetables.
How has being a grandparent influenced or added new dimensions to your hobbies and interests?
Gracie is nearly 18 months old, but she is probably staying at our house at least twice a week, so we get plenty of time with her. My wife Carla always wanted a girl, so she loves this opportunity to buy girly clothes and dress the nursery in pink and unicorns. At the same time, I’m introducing her to toy cars and building blocks. I’m probably seeing more of my grandchild than my own children at this same age. I was a global consulting traveller when they were very young, often away for days or weeks at a time. It feels like I’m almost experiencing having a baby around for the first time, which is wonderful. It is a huge amount of fun, I have to say, although it is also surprisingly expensive as we seem to spend lots of time now in baby clothes sections of shops or buying toys/books/games 🙂
If you could choose any historical figure as your mentor in both your professional and personal life, who would it be, and what lessons do you think they would impart?
I’d love to spend time with Carl Sagan. If you don’t know who he was, Carl was a prominent astronomer most famous for his TV series of the 1980’s called Cosmos. More than anyone else, he excited my interest in science, space and astronomy. Like nobody before, he brought these subjects to the masses, and I’m sure he inspired millions of people to think about science, technology, discovery and exploration. He passed away in 1996, but I would love to hear his opinion on the breakthroughs made in science and technological discovery in just the last 30 years; it’s been a golden age.
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