Meet a Muley: Melissa van der Hecht, Solutions Consultant, Partnering with Customers to Help them Solve Critical Business Challenges
What’s the most interesting problem you’re working on solving right now?
In my role as Solutions Consultant on the Pre-Sales team, I find the complex transformational projects the most interesting; there are so many different parallel streams of work and the role of integration can vary a lot between them. For example, a few of the customers I’m currently working with are undergoing large scale legacy modernisation and migration to the cloud, alongside opening access to their data and trying to provide re-usable services that are safe to innovate on as well as fulfil business-critical processes. Having to think about a piece of integration from many different perspectives and different consumer experiences, rather than just how we can integrate with a specific system, is fascinating to get my brain stuck into.
How did you get to becoming a Solutions Consultant?
I did my undergraduate and masters in Maths and Computer Science at Bristol University and went on to work as a developer for the public sector organisation Jisc; so my background is pretty technical. After a couple of years at Jisc I realised I wanted a job that involved more face-to-face interaction with people as well as doing something technical, and that’s when I discovered what pre-sales was!
Why did you choose to come work for MuleSoft?
I was interviewing for several companies at the time and actually the interview process at MuleSoft really stood out. I hadn’t worked in Sales before and, other than dabbling in a bit of Camel and exploring the open source distribution of Mule in my previous role, I didn’t have any integration experience either so I wasn’t (initially) aware of what makes MuleSoft so special as a company and a technology. However, each interview I had (and there were many) made me more and more excited about the role, the people I would be working with, and the vision. For example, most of the technical interviews I had elsewhere were just asking me questions like “what’s the difference between abstraction and encapsulation in Java”; whereas the MuleSoft interviews were two-way conversations probing my understanding of fundamental concepts and the way I thought about things, rather than just testing my knowledge of terminology. My last interview was even with the CEO – he cares so much about every employee that he is personally involved in our hiring process – and it made me feel like this would be a really special company to work for.
I was offered a few jobs at the same time as MuleSoft and, as well as the people, it was the role and the way it works at MuleSoft that I was sold on the most. Rather than being pigeonholed into doing the same things every day, it was clear I would be exposed to a variety of different things to work on and I would have a lot of support in developing different skills and taking my career forwards in whichever direction I wanted to go in.
Take us through a typical day in the life.
I’m typically in the office three days a week, the other two on the road to visit organisations across the UK. I spend about a third of my time customer facing, which means I’m presenting (typically whiteboarding – I get so into it I even bought a whiteboard for my flat) or demoing in person, over WebEx, or on calls. I have internal meetings too, usually a mix of account-specific meetings, and team and sales meetings.
It’s not all work though; sometimes we do “Thirsty Thursdays” where whoever’s around the office will head to a nearby pub for a few pints after work, and we have a social committee that organises regular socials for us too.
What 3 things are always on your desk and why?
- My to do list. I couldn’t cope without it, I have lists for everything! (Interestingly, always in pen and paper, with different symbols for different priorities)
- A pile of blank A4 paper and lots of different coloured pens for when I need to draw something up. My thought process is much better when I can draw some boxes and diagrams, especially if I’m talking something through with someone (see my previous comment about whiteboards)
- Handcream. I’m a big fiddler and it gives me something to do when I need to stop and think about what I’m working on
What teams do you work with most, and how do you collaborate?
I work the most with the Account Executives, who own the relationships with the companies I work with. I hold myself equally accountable for a customer’s success, however, so we don’t just collaborate on planning and delivering customer-facing activities; I also work with the AEs to define the overall strategy we need to follow in order to make our customers successful.
It’s not just the AEs that I work with though; it takes a variety of different roles to support our customers, so I work with many different functions as part of an account team. Typically this includes Customer Success, Professional Services, Support, and our Partner teams. We collaborate through meetings, ad hoc conversations in the office, and of course by email, phone, and Slack, Google Drive, and so on. The specific individuals I work with varies between accounts which gives me the chance to learn from a wide range of people, which I really love.
Outside of the account teams I work with, I regularly walk over to our Professional Services and Support teams to ask for their opinion or help if I get stuck on something, and I help our Account Development Representative team if they’d like to understand something at a more technical level too. I also collaborate with the Marketing team to produce webinars and online demos, and feed back the assets and collateral that, working in the field, I would find useful to have.
What’s your favorite activity outside of the office?
Perhaps it’s just because Glastonbury is not far away (and I’m listening to Radiohead as I write this) but I am a big fan of music festivals! Other than that I love weightlifting; it feels great to physically push yourself and tire yourself out when the job tends to need more mental rather than physical activity.
What’s your proudest accomplishment in your role here so far?
My career achievements and personal development so far is something I’m very proud of; for example, before I joined MuleSoft the thought of public speaking used to terrify me but now I am presenting at our customer-facing conferences in London, Amsterdam, and San Francisco this year as well as almost daily to companies individually. The accomplishments that motivate me the most though are actually the accomplishments our customers make because of our platform, and knowing that the work I personally did with them helped to make that happen.
What’s the latest technology you’ve learned to use?
The latest MuleSoft technology I’ve learnt is the Anypoint CLI, it rocks. I built a little demo using Anypoint CLI to automate the deployment, starting, and stopping of Mule apps in CloudHub and got so overexcited by it I went round the office showing people.
Outside of MuleSoft technology I’ve also become more familiar with Docker. This is something I see more and more of my customers using, and we are also using containers more and more internally, so I wanted to have a play around myself.
What is your favorite thing about working on the Solutions Consulting team at MuleSoft?
Can I have two?
Firstly, I’m always challenged and coached to be the best version of myself; there are high expectations but everyone helps each other to meet them so we can collaboratively deliver the best possible experience for the companies we work with. In our team in London and Reading, we all have very different backgrounds and experience, and the combination of that leads to brilliant and creative (and sometimes crazy) things that we couldn’t achieve on our own. I love asking for my team’s opinions and feedback on what I’m working on because it gives me so many different perspectives other than my own and I think this is really important. This, combined with the different challenges I work on with different companies, has really helped me to develop my own skills – looking back a couple of years I would never have imaged learning as much as I have!
My other favourite thing is working with companies to create a vision for their integration and then see it fulfilled (it sounds so cheesy but I promise it’s true!). I find it astounding to think that little old me has been a part of defining so many different organisations’ future state architectures, and in my role I get to shape and help improve how these companies do business. Again, looking back a couple of years, I knew most of these businesses as just a consumer but now I get to actually partner with them and be a part of their business too.
Our Pre-Sales team is growing! Learn more about our open roles and where you can make an impact.