Context Partners Client Experience Lead
University of Colorado Masters of Science, Global Energy Management
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
I president. I graduated into the recession in 2009 and so I had a pretty interesting job market. I I ended up working for start up companies for about seven years on a contract basis, doing a lot of different roles. I've primarily done programme or project management roles inside of very different sized companies, and I have recently been in the last five years in the agency world to have both creative agencies and, um, strategy focused agencies and Troop was more. They let my last agency did a little bit more work in the term that was similar to management. Consulting on my current agency is purely a creative agency in this role. I continue to play that project or program management role, making sure things get done, building relationships with our clients and then delivery some of the things that really got me into this place. I think I'm a really hard worker, and I've had to learn a lot of new skills. I'm very fast to teach myself. Um, I do not think that my formal education was significant and how I got to where I am. Um, I think it helped me become a critical thinker, but in terms of the technical skills required for my job today, a lot of those or self taught on the job.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? Tell us about weekly work hours, including the time spent on work travel and working from home.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
when I was at context partners. My primary responsibilities for bringing in new business, leading, um, managing the relationships with the clients handling and making sure our team was ready for all presentations and moving the strategy forward. Um, work hours were very flexible. We I've left come text content. Sprint has actually changed. Um, I went down to be much smaller firm, and that's when I pursue Cinco. Um, and currently here in Portland, everyone's working from home. We've been who, this way of performance, and I don't think that will change for probably another six months. Um, hours are e mean, I'm I work eight sex every day. Um, that can be dependant on if we have a big deadline or a bunch of things to finish. And I'm I worked 45 to 55 hours a week

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) were typically used in a role like yours?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
or conference calls we permit. Really? Zoom who? Go me bring central, um, for chat where our company entirely is a slack. My last three companies completely Aslak of email. Um, in terms of Softwares work, creative firms. But we work in Adobe Creative suite. Um, And for project management, I've worked in base camp asana work. Medog Um look with planner Salesforce missing. Yeah, I think that covers it The main ones.

What were the challenges in a job like yours? What approaches were effective in dealing with these challenges? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
I think there are two types of challenges because I'm in client services. We have demanding clients. And so how do you handle demanding clients? I think there's a ton of tactics that we use regularly, but a lot of it is in our communication skills expectations. Having um, preparing ourselves for success by asking a lot of good questions early on, doing a number of meetings with stakeholders as the work evolves. Um And then, of course, being really, really opened a few back, Um and I mean that, and it's full term. I think there's a lot of people that are not actually genuinely open to feedback in this world, especially in the professional setting, anything being in creative services and being in client services, you have to be. It's absolutely critical to success, um, diving bets, the communication skills and critical thinking skills, and I also think like coming to the table with solutions at all times that coming with problems. I think, um, it's very, very easy to identify problems. It's very, very hard to identify the right problems and actually do something about them in a strategic in an effective way, especially when you're talking about organizational or behavioral change. Um, my last job. We did a lot of organisational change work change management projects inside of large companies. And there's a lot of work that goes into that, um, and starts with communication, but also really leading with, um, where you want to go on building, building engagement along the way and some things and actually be effective. So that's a long winded way of saying, Um, I think the challenges I face are related Teoh Peebles behavior, or whether or not they're open to change. And so how do you work with that? And around that to achieve what you both are trying to achieve?

What were the job titles of people you routinely worked with, within and outside of the organization? What approaches were effective in working with them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
so all using example for my current work? Um, we had a very we had a creative director that were working for who had a really strong perspective and what he believed the brand needed to say and do and how their voices need to be communicated in the creative in the brand on their website, in their materials of their passage ing and he waas he was becoming an editor inside of the work at a level that was not productive. Um, and so what we needed to dio ones demonstrate that we are a trusted partner and you understood his be backed and were able to execute. Um And so what? We had to do waas pull him in two basically identified four pieces of content where we know we did it, right. And then we worked with him to apply that thinking, too, for other pieces of content where we knew we were weak. So we did a working session with him, just sort of land that tone that he was looking for. And then we were able to move that creative work forward. Um so I think part of it is demonstrating the approach that we're talking about is how do you demonstrate where you are, where you are capable and then work with them to achieve to fix where you are, reach basically.There's a guy named Peter Bloch who wrote a book about Consul dated How to Be Basically How to Be a Concentrated of Partner on. I Think a lot of what he does. I tried you on body in my work and I find really effective. And a lot of it is like being very authentic and clear and being very, very open to feedback and acknowledging when things are working in when they're not. And when you do that inside of any client meeting, there will always be progress when we're actively avoiding, um, the work will stop.

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
describe my style as transparent, empowering clear. I'm rather direct Communicator. Um, I will give people room to fail and then support them along that path. Um, I my management has evolved in that there was a long time where I was managing up. Um, and I wasn't in control of a team or responsible for a team and their performance. Anything better shifted throughout the years? Um, it also shifts inside of my day, depending on the type of work I'm in and I'm working with. And, um So I think being in consulting and client service is really good to you, Like a strong perspective and how to be an engine I think I have. It's been humbling. I think the longer I work, the more I realized what I don't know. The more I create space for people speak up and to identify where we are and say it in their words, the more I repeat what I hear so that I am giving them an opportunity to edit, um, and more that I realize that there's a lot of rate people doing great work in the world, and there's a lot of terrible

How do you manage conflicts within and across teams? How do you promote trust, openness and a healthy work culture? Sharing stories will greatly help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
think the first started having really agreed upon norms for how your team's gonna work. And that is like a collaborative open process toe. When you go into something and you create a culture around the work that you all are a part of and there's there's a responsibility for every percent mint team Teoh. Bring that to the table and maintain it. There's also a responsibility for the team. Did all it when it's not working ends to have us have, ah, open conversation about when that is, I think also, I lied through the work so it's it's big personalities can take over when you start to think that the personalities matter more than the work. Um, and I think personality, the people matter, but their personalities don't necessarily. We all have to figure out how to be an effective team, and that's the responsibility of the team. But the angering or enabling a particular personality or a particular work choice that is not actually serving the greater good is a really ineffective management strategy and one that I attempt to avoid a definitely made the mistake in the past of focusing my energy is a manager on the strongest personality or the weakest link, and depending on the scenario, that's been a good thing or a bad thing. Um, so I think it It's ah, heavily contextual in terms of has effective. But I think generally leading through the work while really deeply appreciating everyone's contributions and creating space for them to evolve is incredibly important. Um, and I think you can very much do both, Um, but when you have issues are toxic relationships on the team, um, it could be very challenging and there's a lot of different ways ahead of us.

How can one get better recognition of work from one's boss and higher management? What mistakes should one avoid? Stories or examples will be quite helpful.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
that's jerky. Um, especially in over a month thing. I think it's especially with the hope because companies air traditionally pretty terrible at recognition. They're also very terrible, and it's creating moments more so. At my last company, we would talk about different types of rewards, and we would talk about your experiential rewards or reputational rewards their monetary rewards. And I think most companies are decent with monetary rewards terrible with reputational reward. They manifested the culture of the firm and, um, pretty like they group. I think we've gotten better in the last eight years with experiential rewards. Um, I think a lot of firms are pretty good with, like, the gift, or like the basic acknowledgement in that way, Um, and other people kind of dug into doing more like prizes and like genuine like awards in front of people.if you were reliant on your company to create a reward structure that then you can protect the paid in your already behind because we're not now being aware of how you honor impacting were not impacting the workplace come to. So I think you have to be cognizant and communicate their with when you have victories. You have to be, um, humble and communicative When you fail. I think you have to be, um you have to own your mistakes and action show accountability inside of those other moments. And I think, um, if you want to hide, you can. But don't think that, yeah.

What indicators were used to track performance in a job like yours? Think of the indicators such as key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives & key results (OKRs), or so on.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
I'm been in a lot of companies. So have a lot of different systems currently in my firm. Doesn't have. Doesn't operate with my team with, um but it personal metrics. Instead, we look a project financial metrics that are largely and and we used to have some sort of softer, like client retention home metrics or our renewal rate for bringing in more work. Um, you know, it's really dependent on the firm. My last firm, we were pretty clear on, like, how many dollars you bringing it? What's your renewal rate? Um, and generally they were tied together because you didn't great work used to get more work. But it's kind of easier inside of complete vaulting and client services to come up with these metrics that are either sale or profitability driven. Um, anything. Some of the softer things that allow you to have business long term are poorly. Truck

What qualities did you look for while hiring? What kind of questions did you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
I helped to see. I think one of the hardest read the one of the hardest hurts about moving into the agency world is that you have to break in and we expect high level competency competency immediately because we don't have room to train. And unless you go to a bigger agency where they have some sort of like program where they bring in people's and in turn, they help them develop. I know my agency. We hire professionals, are very experienced, and so what we look for are very strong technical skills, um, experience and strength and client management in client relationships. Um, before the creative output, we got us what people can make and do, Um, so we look at Eagles portfolio. We look for, then have a really good I. I'm the creative field. We need to know that they can either right or that they can divine visually. And so those hard skills air articulated in the portfolio. But yeah, it's a hard space to break into a young person. I think they're definitely paths for it, But I think like my evens you about that deep in Poland. I'm we don't have a program that. I'm hearing a lot of contractors right now to fill in gaps based on work. We need to deliver tomorrow. What? You are our top terrifying.

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you felt good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
we were hired to your design, a community engagement strategy or a particular famous individual who wanted to have a big impact on the world. Then she has a large foundation, and so we not only designed that strategy, but then we're able to do see it implemented inside of her team and then implemented from a technology standpoint so that it can reinforce tracking the measure, behaving in the way that she wanted Teoh and we designed in the strategy. So I'm really I'm really proud of that work. Um, I'm really proud of my growth and ability to sell Where, um, doing business development when you were selling ideas or, um, creative concepts is jerky. Seoul over half nine work in a year, and that was my first year doing it. So I'm pretty proud of that on I am proud of. I mean, recently, I've been doing a lot of work producing contents, um, during cove it. But I'm pretty proud about moved, um, for photo shoots and no one got sick and people felt safe on the work was really great. Um, does her some example

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Owner & Project Manager, Frida Steele
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
That was a period of years where the economy with connect happy and I was a lot of contract works Western, my own companies. And so the person that was being sold with myself eso the challenge. There was building enough relationship so I would continue tohave work where I was valued for what I do. And at the time it was doing a combination of green building consulting and helping places like the University of Denver finished their LEED certification on library Teoh producing events and Denver Teoh, uh, Rush Mobile Studio under that it allowed or old to help develop a green building certification software. So all really different rolls. The charges were really different. I think that the primary challenge of your sole proprietary how do you bring in work and continue to bring in work in a way that speeds what you actually want to be doing? Ah, which is really hard. And at that time I don't think I had a lot of those traces. I think I was taking work. I found I'm in making the best of it and trying to leverage it into a future I wanted

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
think the number one thing I do and will always do anything that's the most important is to do exactly what you say you're going to do. I think about it 100% essential in the workplace and the more that you just do about a lot of amazing Dingell's been happened and people will invest in you. Um, I think I'm learn how to be open. We are. We are not naturally open. I think we all think we are, but I don't think we effectively are. So I think it's learned how to be open and learn how to get feedback because it's not just the herb to you. It is. It has to be actively slot after, and asking those questions is essential.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Jul 27 2020
no dependent. They're actually a creative person, like a fair, actually a designer and going to design school. Liking Fat Path is a little bit more clear. Nothing for someone in operations and client management. It's a little bit different. Um, I would advise taking coordinator positions because in those with that specific title, they don't look very attractive sometimes when students, especially recent graduates, look at those titles. But those are actually really nice learning positions because it says that they need extra help, and that's a really great way to learn on the job. Um, for like that first job out of school, definitely coordinator position. I don't know whether or not to give people advice. Those worries like large company or small company. I can get a really challenging thing to advise on on. I come from working in startups where I got a ton of experience, but I also got a lot of responsibility that I mayor may not have earns. I think there was a lot of Besson's on that but are highly valuable today. Um, it's tricky, I think, large firms. The larger problem I found in the last 13 years working is that A lot of companies don't want to treating people. They want you just to be there exactly what they need today. And they also don't necessarily want to invest in you to ground. And so, as a nation were you really should be plays doesn't work for and there there's a movement towards investment in people and a movement towards training. But the university, they're falling short of doing that, and companies are not willing to invest. And so I think, and get more than ever. It's falling on the individual, and it's a pretty punishing environment for people who don't know yourself you teach.