By Chuck Leddy
Adam Mitrosz, one of four Managing Partner at Sojourn Solutions and its Head of Development, has an impressive background as a technologist. But, as he makes crystal clear during our 20-minute discussion, his main focus isn’t on technology but on developing Sojourn’s people.
Mitrosz believes that the best way to help Sojourn’s customers grow is by helping Sojourn’s people grow their talents and careers.
What follows is an edited version of our interview.
How do you define success in your role at Sojourn?
Mitrosz: My success is the happiness of our employees. I’m really eager to see our team happy because that helps with talent retention, yes, but it’s also the way to get our best work done and help our customers succeed, which is why we do what we do.
My favorite measure of success is my team’s creativity and innovation. When they innovate, it tells me that they feel this is the right place for them, that they’re bringing their best every day. They sacrifice their time for us and for our customers, so I want to always ensure that they’re compensated fairly. But I also want them to feel that their work is appreciated, they’re being heard, and their input is valued.
How has your prior experience prepared you for the role you perform today?
Mitrosz: I spent eight years working on IT projects of various types and sizes, and also spent time on larger teams working in marketing automation. That helped me define expectations and see what we might be missing in a project. These experiences also taught me how to recognize and use people’s strengths, their preferred ways of thinking. I’m interested in philosophy in general, and some of what you need to manage well is as much philosophical as technical. Being philosophical gives me fresh ideas on how to improve what we do.
Can you offer an example of how you worked with our customers to make them successful?
Mitrosz: Sure. I once worked for a UK company where the focus was on the quality of customer emails. After two years working with them, I knew a lot about email clients and everything about the technical side of things. Our team decided we wanted to create email automation, something visual that would be fun for users, easy to use, and delivered quality codes that render correctly in all email clients. We helped develop our Email Builder app, working closely with our customers to understand their needs and wants. In my humble opinion, it’s now the best tool out there. It’s just another reason to be proud of our team as they help our customers.
How do you help develop the capabilities of the Sojourn team so they can better serve customers?
Mitrosz: For our developers, we believe that cross-training them in different functions and having them work on teams is the fastest way for them to develop. We might hire a developer who’s just finished IT studies, but has no commercial experience and might know nothing about the web development process. The developer role requires so much skill, the field is changing so rapidly, and there’s no way to learn everything you need to learn and start working in a company.
With our consultants, we start with knowledge assessment. We may find that new hires have strong technical backgrounds, but know little about marketing automation. Marketing departments at universities don’t teach students much about marketing automation. Then we’ll have our junior consultants develop sample projects and assign them a senior member of the team to work with, who answers all their questions. They co-deliver that sample project, then present it to the team, which asks questions like an actual client. So we gradually develop our junior consultants to the point where they’re ready to take part in actual client calls and deliver real value for our clients and our business.
What are you are proudest of?
Mitrosz: It’s when our clients express very strong satisfaction with our work. When they provide great feedback saying that, in comparison with what they’d been doing before, they’re now doing things much better, smarter, and with more efficiency.
Then there are those moments where I see our people thriving. We recently had a junior developer who was struggling during his first year: he just couldn’t find his way. Then suddenly he started making huge progress and began outperforming all our expectations. It was astonishing and made me so proud.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Mitrosz: To build effective teams where newcomers who don’t necessarily have the same skill set work well with experienced people. Getting these different people to work together efficiently is a big, important challenge. We might have someone with strong experience come in who doesn’t know the latest technologies. We use their experience while bringing them up to speed on the technologies we use. That is sometimes enjoyable, and sometimes challenging.
Where do you see marketing operations going next?
Mitrosz: There will be a trend to connect and integrate areas that are now very distinct. For example, some companies are still not able to achieve a full picture of their business. They lack that full visibility into what their customers do and why. They can’t precisely explain the root causes of their success. They can’t see all their potential risks.
Whether because of organic growth or due to external acquisitions, these companies have little fluency within their organization and struggle to gain that full visibility. If these companies had access to the right data, to the right reporting, they’d have the full picture of what’s happening in their business. They could then use their data to identify what’s working and what’s not, and make the right adjustments. We’re in the business of helping our customers do exactly that.