Meet a Muley: Colin Laird, Account Executive

colin laird mulesoft

I work on the Sales team in our Sydney office as an Enterprise Account Executive at MuleSoft focused on organizations in the Financial Services and Insurance industry in what’s called ANZ North. ANZ North is the New South Wales and Queensland regions within Australia. If you boil it back, my role involves two responsibilities:

  1. Represent what MuleSoft does in the clearest and most succinct way, thereby helping organizations identify and plan on making the most effective and strategic changes to their business
  2. Leverage the full IP and brainpower of MuleSoft (and there is a lot of it!), bringing our absolute all to ensure that our customers see both early and ongoing success.

What is the most interesting problem you’re working on solving right now?

Working with one of the major banks here to try and make on-boarding new businesses much easier and faster. Today,  new on-boarded businesses are forced to interact with the bank’s very complex technology stack. They want to turn that process around to say “you can swap data with us however you want.”

What is interesting is that we are trying to help the business share information across the organization easily, specifically by enabling data interaction to take place in a less technical manner. This helps push the data capability out of the hands of technical folks in IT and into the likes of Business Analysts. This is something we are starting to see with our technology more generally. It’s important to make integration more business friendly and aligned with where the greatest benefit is derived.

What led you to become an Account Executive?

I was an Architect and technical guy for many years, supporting salespeople. I then started to see that I was doing most of the work for them because I understood the technology much deeper than they did. I could share  information in a way that made it compelling to organizations.

One day, a position at MuleSoft opened up. I was at Oracle at the time and I simply decided to go for it. It was a hard transition at first, because I was not that great at questioning and understanding what people were trying to do.  

I wasted a lot of time and would often get caught up in the technology because that was my safe place. I was working for a great boss though; he was tough as nails but fair and very smart. So I listened to what he had to say and kept refining my approach until I became re-wired, you could say.

Why did you choose to come work for MuleSoft?

I was having a really good time at Oracle and was not looking for a position when I was approached by a recruiter. When the recruiter told me the name of the company, I was intrigued because I actually heard of MuleSoft a few years before when I was in New Zealand. The recruiter was the Managing Director of the company, so he was very professional and he persuaded me to speak with the APAC Head of MuleSoft, Will Bosma.

When Will explained the company’s focus and plans, the lightbulb just went on. I saw that they were in a really unique space; at the intersection of many current and fundamental technology shifts, including cloud, mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and even edge cases such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics. My question was: if these trends all produce and consume data, how can that data be translated between all of the aforementioned technologies easily? The answer is ‘it can’t’.

The more I looked, the more I recognized that Mule tackles the above question in a very innovative, lightweight, and productive way, one which is significantly differentiated to other offerings in the market. As an Account Executive, the work that I do is the dream combination. A unique company that can solve a very complex problem in a  simple manner, and in key areas that organizations across industry really care about. So I joined!

Take us through a typical day in the life.

There is not really a typical day, but here goes! Generally I start with my email and calendar. I use my calendar to drive me, whether it’s calling someone or booking a meeting. I just find that easier. We use Google here, so everyone has access to it.

I typically average about 3-4 meetings a day, so depending on what those are, they will determine the amount of prep and whether I lock myself away. I am always wandering around too, speaking to the different teams or answering questions. My day has a good mix of presentations, calls with new organizations, and putting together pricing and proposals.

Lastly, it’s important to mention that we are now in our 4th office in just 4 years (I have worked in 3 of them) and the new office is fantastic. There is so much light and space. I mention this because it has a big bearing on how you feel at work, it’s therefore a real pleasure to be in the office. They also provide lunch twice a week and all sorts of food, so you need to work hard to make sure you don’t put on weight!

What 3 things are always on your desk and why?

  1. Calculator – Much faster than my brain.
  2. Business card holder – My physical version of LinkedIn, which incidentally will be available if the global Internet ever went down.
  3. Headphones – If I need to focus or change it up, I plug-in and immerse.

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What teams do you work with most, and how do you collaborate?

I work fairly evenly with Pre-Sales, Customer Success, Account Development, and Consulting (Professional Services). I take a lot on at any one time, and the people I work with depend on the stage of dialogue that I am having with customers. One of the things I love about MuleSoft is that we hire super smart people, which means that you can trust colleagues to just get on and finish their tasks (i.e. not just in the way that I would have done it, but in the way that they see it needs to be done). This is a subtle distinction, but I love that about MuleSoft. There is a lot of creativity that I didn’t experience in my last company. When someone has the ball, they are going to see it through. We talk about being an “owner” and not a “renter,” and this is a clear example of that.

What is your favorite activity outside of the office?

I love going to the gym and exercising. I also enjoy running, which I do a couple of times a week as well. As a hobby, I brew Kombucha which is a fermented health drink. I’ve managed to persuade some of the office to have it and it has went down pretty well, but most of the other Account Executives stay away from it. I need to figure that one out!

What is your proudest accomplishment in your role here so far?

I think this would have to be the results from working with a large media companies here in Australia. When I joined MuleSoft 3 years ago, they were one of the first companies I went to see. They had a small footprint of Mule, but they told me that they were going to turn it off because it had been implemented badly by an external organization; as such, they were evaluating our competition. Not a great start. I then diligently helped them, bringing the gurus from MuleSoft and Customer Success to solve their issues, and slowly but surely we won back their trust and addressed their previous implementation.

This meant (in classic Mule style) that their “integration lives” became easier, they could run their projects faster, they lowered their backlog of work, and they started to get interest from other areas of the organization. At the end of 2016, they signed up for a significant five year agreement with us. It was a great feeling to see how far they had come and to work with them on where they want to go. MuleSoft will essentially be the spine for the modernization of the entire organization across on-premise, cloud, and mobile. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.

What is the latest technology you have learned to use?

It was quite startling coming to MuleSoft and realize that the whole business runs on around 120 SaaS applications. The technology environment was far more modern than what I was used to. But this means that we regularly get new tools to help us. I think my favorite technology at the moment is Cadence. It lets me send out consecutive emails to tell a story to an organization overtime, and also lets me track who opens and clicks my emails. You can sometimes see your emails jumping around countries, especially as readers send them to members of staff overseas that might be interested.

What is your favorite thing about working on the Account Executive team at MuleSoft?

It’s too hard to say one thing. I love the thought leadership we have. I love the platform because it works, and when people say: “I did that integration in 1 day, and previously it took us 4 months to get going,” it really makes the job worthwhile.

Also, one of my favorite things is the people that I work with. We have a very open culture, centered around collaborating. This means that we execute at a very high standard because the collective brainpower is encouraged to work together to be better. That also extends to meeting Muleys in other locations.

Recently, we had our global conference in San Diego and a few of us went on a day trip to the Torrey Pines. I hadn’t met the group before, and so we all had a very unique perspective on the value of MuleSoft. A Developer, IT Support, Sales and the Executive Assistant to the CEO. Finally, I also really like my boss. I haven’t always said that about previous jobs. We just really click and we are constantly challenging each other to be evermore succinct, exact, and meaningful.

 

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