• Feb 14, 2023
Role: Solution Marketing Manager
Most used Slack emoji: ❤️😂🙈
Current location: the outskirts of Belfast, Northern Ireland
I have always worked in marketing – ever since I first started working professionally. My first job was as marketing and events assistant for the Students’ Union at the university in England where I studied for my BA and MA degrees (ironically, my academic degrees are not in Marketing).
My first job in tech was for a storage company specializing in storage for virtualized workloads, which marked my introduction to VMs, hypervisors, and virtualization in general. As I was in field marketing, it was also the first time I attended and coordinated our company’s presence at big, international conferences with over 10,000 people (including an unforgettable trade show in Dubai where I was mesmerized by the opulence of multi-storey booths, with meeting rooms on top of the standard conference booth, serving fresh coffee and tasty bites).
I then moved to a company in the DevOps space – which also happened to be the company that was producing the State of DevOps Report. That was when I started paying proper attention to the connection between product, marketing, and the impact that content has on shaping opinions and influencing decisions, but also when I started feeling more drawn towards automation and desired state configuration.
However, as there was a lot of change in my life at that point (including another job change, a move from London to Northern Ireland, which restored my appreciation for nature thanks to the similarities in lush scenery that both my native Romania and the island and Ireland have in common, and a newly-discovered passion for interior decorating), I also needed a bit of stability. As such, I continued my familiar trajectory in field and events marketing until things aligned in a way that enabled my transition to a communications and public relations role. The career change triggered a mindset change for me and as I became involved in shaping narratives for tech and business media, I also started caring more about audience expectations and behavior.
Over the few years spent in that role, it became more clear to me that I was particularly interested in identifying, analyzing, and expanding the bond between audiences and the materials that get their attention and inform and inspire them. At the same time, as I completed my PRINCE2 qualifications in project management, I also started exploring more around people and processes and especially around agile and non-hierarchical ways of structuring teams and collaborating on projects.
My candidate journey and why it matters
Bit by bit, I started getting more clarity about what I was looking for in a new job and/or company. Interestingly enough, once that picture was sketched in my head, an HR manager from Giant Swarm reached out to me about the solution marketing role. As I was reading the job description, I knew right then and there that I wanted to come and work here. There was a certain energy that was talking to me from behind the words describing the role and the company. I felt an instant connection with the solution marketing role I was reading about and with the people-first approach of Giant Swarm, as well as a reignited connection with the cloud native community, which I was somewhat familiar with thanks to a previous job... And once I met my team, the connection with Giant Swarm became even stronger. I remember getting off the Google Meet call and thinking “I really, really want to work with these people.”
Then, the hiring task and the hiring presentation came. I loved the whole approach to this crucial step in the hiring process: the Slack channel where I could ask clarifying questions about the hiring task, the fact that I could already collaborate with my team – which really gave me a taste of what it would feel like to be part of it – the presentation dry-run, the feedback that was shared with me and finally the actual presentation in front of a decent proportion of the whole company. All in all, it was an amazing, transformative experience. At the heart of it all, there was a confirmation that I could be myself in front of my Giant Swarm colleagues – and that, mixed with the collaboration-centric model I was experiencing, were the main selling points of my candidate journey.
The biggest challenge I've faced so far
Well, the cloud native universe is a bit like the universe we live in – fascinating and convoluted. 😂 There’s a lot of complexity and things are not always easy to comprehend, let alone position externally, so marketing solutions in this space requires a lot of questioning, deconstructing, reconstructing, failing at certain things, succeeding at others, iterating, and adjusting along the way. There are challenges at each step of the journey, but the journey itself is teaching me some valuable lessons in having patience, staying focused, thinking non-linearly, and probably the most valuable lesson of them all – identifying priorities in the web of complexity and working towards turning those priorities into tangible outcomes.
I believe that tapping into the power of prioritization is crucial for mental health when you work remotely, especially for people who have a strong tendency towards overthinking (and I’m one of those). When you get the most urgent tasks or projects out of the way, it frees up your mental space and you get to appreciate and enjoy the time outside of work more. I’ve also discovered that what goes hand in hand with prioritization is goal and intention-setting. In order to have clarity on your priorities, you need to look at what you’re trying to accomplish and then work backwards, keeping that main goal in mind.
My greatest source of happiness when it comes to work
The human-ness of Giant Swarm is the most beautiful part of working here! This is a company that really puts people first: both employees and customers, and it’s just nice to feel that humane energy all around and be part of it. From a more practical perspective, I also like the flexibility around work and the ability to balance work and other parts of life so well. This is mainly possible due to the general trust and understanding existing at a company level.
However, in order to ensure efficiency and good results while maintaining the flexible aspect of remote work, it’s important to understand how to work asynchronously and how to make that work well. When it comes to communication and getting stuff done async, I like that so much of our written interaction happens on Slack or GitHub (rather than email, for example), as it feels less restrictive, more conversational, and therefore more real.
I believe that people are more likely to be themselves on Slack and GitHub, and that communication is more agile, partially thanks to the ability to just react to a message.
I’m a big fan of reacting through emojis and when I first started here, I was specifically impressed with two things: 1. the vast library of Slack emojis and 2. the fact that the heart emoji is used so often and so uninhibitedly, which is an indication of how open, friendly and empathetic people are at Giant Swarm. I think the use of emojis really helps with remote work and it facilitates a deeper connection between co-workers. Feeling this connection despite the physical distance between us, mixed with simply feeling empowered and encouraged to have a good work-life balance while being in control of how I organize my work to deliver the best outcome are the factors that play the biggest role in me feeling happy at work.
Giant Swarm’s managed microservices infrastructure enables enterprises to run agile, resilient, distributed systems at scale, while removing the tasks related to managing the complex underlying infrastructure.
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