Interview with Chris Boag: VP of Professional Services

Chris talks to us about working for Drupal Connect & how to find new Drupal Business!

1) How did you come to be at Drupal Connect? I was looking for a job that allowed me to be creative, active and with the opportunity to speak to people all over the world. I wanted to work with intelligent creative people, that were at the forefront of their industry and that had the flexibility to work from where ever they wanted but still could have fun working together.

I found DC and it looked like the perfect fit. I was looking to expand out into a bigger world. I was a partner and working at another Drupal Shop called at the time located in Victoria BC. After working at DC for a period of some months I came to realize there would be a syncronous relationship with NorthStudio and DC, at which point we seamlessly merged.

Our joint forces can now take on more business and more clients and service the full universe that is Drupal: Drupal everything, design, programming, module development, theming, IA/UX, SEO and SEM for Drupal and complete training packages.

2) What is the best part of your job? Working with the amazing people that make up DC - a talented bunch of go-getters that love doing what they do. Plus getting to work with the cool clients that we work for. Many are incredibly intelligent and very creative. They're also building and developing things that are at the forefront of their industries using Drupal.

I get to look into a multitude of new product and service companies. It's addictive being able to learn so many new things, to see everything they're doing which is super cool and super fun.

3) What is the worst part of your job? Sitting on my butt for long hours! Sometimes trying to manage all of the calls coming in from my cell phone, VOIP Phone, IRC, skype, my six email accounts, my 3 gmails, my 2 email programs, google chat, facebook, twitter, instagram, dropbox, basecamp, highrise, nutshell, google docs, harvest, redmine, and JIRA.

4) If you were a client, what kind of advice you would tell yourself when looking to hire a Drupal development company? I would want to find people that communicate well, that are rockstars and fun to work with. That are knowledgeable and immersed in the industry with a breadth and circumference of knowledge and interests to cover all of the facets that my project entails.

From business understanding, online marketing, Drupal development, design, SEO stuff and with the ability to follow through and get it done. And not just abandon me when my project is done. But stick around to support me and my business future needs as well. I want to make sure I have a rock-solid team that supports my present and future needs and is going to be there for the long haul!

5) What is a common mistake or re-occuring issue you see clients making time and time again? Not listening to the development firm they hire. I know that most people do their due diligence when trying to locate the appropriate company. In doing so they should trust in the team that they've selected to work with, and listen to them to follow through with what they do best.

Sometimes customers like to hire a company, but at the same time they often think they know better when developing online solutions. I would recommend to those customers that had faith in themselves to choose an appropriate company to have faith in the company that they chose to get the job done well.

Listen to their industry experience and try to stay out of the 'I Like', 'I want' scenario as it is what the end user needs which is not predicated on the likes and dislikes of visual components. Just because I like the colour blue does not mean that is what my end user needs or will be attracted to. 

6) When hiring staff to work at Drupal Connect what are the key qualities, experience and education you look for in a candidate? I want to make sure that people understand how to work in a team setting, how to be part of the team and conduct themselves effectively in a fast paced environment. They need to be effective communicators.

Being able to communicate ideas, understanding and knowledge with all of the different parties is crucial. Secondly I'd want to make sure that the have strong initiative, can own something 'soup to nuts', have the capacity for continual learning and adjustment to our fast moving industry and have a solution based focus as we all to often can get stuck in the 'problems'.

Depending on the various jobs that they do; programming, theming, IA, SEO, business development, marketing, PM, Account Manager, Solution Architect, I would want to know that they had a proficency in what they will be doing. Industry experience and people that have the competancy from day one. People that can be on-boared and run with whatever it is they need to be able to do without slowing our team down or needing to much attention to get moving.

7) Is it hard to find new business? What secrets can you share to help others hunt and secure new Drupal business? No it is not hard to find new business in our industry. With a proper SEO and PPK campaign combined with social media outreach, a company is able to network and find new business all over the place! Staying active in the community, whether it's with folks locally or in other communities can be facilated very well through our new communication models; Twitter, FB, Skype, and so on.

Be a part of the Drupal Association and Acquia. Understand what these organizations have to offer and what you can provide back to them. Working with The Drupal Association and Acquia will expand your reach and visibility and increase your product/service offerings.

You want to make sure you have a niche market because everyone is offering drupal. Don't just offer drupal, offer a speciality service or niche product that your customers will come directly to you for. You may specalize in performance and scalability or you may specialze in integrating Alfreso or CRM systems, or proving services to education facilities, municipalities or governments. Sometimes being a generalist drupal developer or company means loosing work to companies that have specifically tailored products and services.

The most important thing to understand is that business does not magically occur. It comes from understanding your clients and what they need, and your business and what you have to offer.

But mostly how to network and creatively solve problems. So if your problem is not being able to find business, being able to creative think where to find new business.

Opening up effective communication vehicles between those that are providing a product or service and those that need to be provided for, is the key to establishing more business and or establish or deepen human relationships.

It's all about the people.

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