Evaluate yourself, discussing your most significant accomplishment and a professional failure. What did you learn from these experiences? What changes did you make in your work style as a result?
As the Marketing Manager at ABC, I had been assigned the challenging role of heading the global launch of a technology product line (hardware development platforms). The “Aggressive” objectives included developing a global marketing campaign and leading a team across multiple functions. We had just one window of opportunity, less time and a limited marketing budget.
As a first priority, I developed a comprehensive go-to-market strategy which was perfected and approved across various forums at ABC. I then went on to setup a core product launch team with a swift implementation mandate. The greatest creative challenge was to quickly simplify and develop well-articulated media releases and other marketing collateral. We also had to ensure the readiness of the sales team spread across the globe.
Within a few days of launch, we had generated extensive, positive attention from the media and coverage from an independent technology magazine. The enthused sales team was “overloaded” with a sales pipeline in excess of $3 million made possible within a short 6-month span. We had entered the market at record speed, accuracy and generated massive interest among our prospective customers!
The project was a matter of pride and great personal satisfaction. It brought in an accelerated learning curve as I competitively positioned the product line and aligned it with overall company strategy. Various presentations given to the senior management gave me first hand experience on the executive level decision making process. I learnt to operate and make swift decisions, lead a diverse team, deal with budgetary and time constraints and as yet maintain standards of excellence.
The “tightrope walking” helped me move one step up in emotional maturity as a manager and as a person. As a marketer, I sharpened my skills in understanding the language and the grasping levels of customers. I have always ensured well-articulated and simplistic marketing communications ever since.
I can relate to a situation in 2005 as Senior Technical Marketing Engineer at ABC. In less than a year’s time in the new position, I had made quite a few accomplishments and was looking up towards further growth. My eagerness to take on greater responsibilities impressed my supervisor.
I was given an exciting opportunity to lead a special project. It involved close technical product collaboration with a partner company, DEF. Technically speaking, we had to integrate computer software (Digital Signal Processing) from ABC (the manufacturing partner) into our software program. We were aiming towards adding greater features to the product and thus a further enhanced user (customer) experience. Although the project was not exactly in the critical path of the company’s deliverables, it was still important to the overall success of the company.
In my enthusiasm for the project, I committed to a fast-paced, on-schedule completion. My primary assessment of project details seemed to support the timeline. However, there was a crucial and variable factor – the delivery commitments from ABC. Midway into the project, it came upon us that even if we (ABC Inc.) were to ramp-up our resources and efforts, the limitations at the partner’s end were way too many. We continued to maintain our momentum and remained open to the possibility of making it on target. I also realized that it would be detrimental to my credibility to go back and accept the error. Untiring efforts notwithstanding, we missed the mark! It was an embarrassment since the project was time-sensitive.
I honestly shared all the facts with my supervisor and was sportively granted an extension. Over a lunch meeting the next day, my supervisor imparted valuable wisdom to prevent such a situation in the future. The senior management at ABC, as also the partner company, was glad that I had been transparent and accepted the error.
The project brought in many changes in my work style. I realized that projects that involve multiple groups and partners are quite different from relatively “internal” projects where there is more control. I have learnt to maintain some margin of variation in such and other projects ever since. Since then, I also sincerely follow the rule of quickly escalating any critical, foreseen process delays/gaps as my first tenet in project management.