As I have recently joined Carbon Global as the Business & Operations Intern, I had a virtual chat with Elodie, Strategic Operations Manager, to talk about the operational side of things within a business development agency. Our conversation has shone a light on the significant role of an operations team for a smooth running and effective company.
Sim: What specifically attracted you to a role in the operations team of a business development company as opposed to working with the commercial team? What are some of the key differences between the two roles?
Elodie: Interestingly, I first applied to be part of the business development team. As I was new to the role and business development after graduating, we agreed that I would be trained to call, but I would also help out with some of the operations as the business was growing quickly. A few months in, we realised that operations was something that I would be better at and that my personality and interests were more relevant to that role. Operational tasks were also what I enjoyed the most, as it involved a great sense of organisation and strategy, which are two things that I really love. My role within operations is also a great way to be in contact with the team and with the clients, which I enjoy as it means making sure that everyone’s happy on both sides.
The key difference between operations and business development is that the business development team is constantly in communication with prospects. However, in operations, it’s more about internal communication so the people you interact with are different every day. Also, in operations the work you do is more behind the scenes unlike a business development manager as it involves ensuring our B2B activities are running smoothly and streamlined.
Sim: You have been in your role as strategic operations manager for quite some time. What are some of the challenges you have faced? What did you do to try to overcome these challenges?
Elodie: I think, in operations, it’s not so much about your own challenges but it’s mostly identifying the challenges of the team and also understanding the clients. I aim to have a good understanding of what we can improve within the company and make them my own challenges to solve. For example, understanding why we may not be performing well in some specific areas of the business and see what the team needs to improve their productivity to win new clients.
Recently, we created a new system to help the callers within the commercial team to improve their performance by making it easier for them to work on their calling list and report back. Now that this challenge has been resolved, it’s onto the next team challenge that we need to overcome, there is always something to do. So, I wouldn’t say that I have big personal challenges within my role, but a big part of it is making sure everyone uses the same internal processes so that we remain organised and work effectively. With that, I guess, a challenge I take on myself is to communicate well with the team and the clients to make sure that they clearly understand whatever new internal decision we make. Also, it is important that they’re happy with the decision. If not, we will keep working towards solutions that are best for everyone to win work.
Sim: As part of the operations team, your role consists of not only managing the daily operations but also communicating with a range of people and solving new issues daily. How are you able to manage your time through this?
Elodie: Yes, I definitely think that time management is the most crucial part of operations. With an operations role, you are accepting that the to-do list you wrote in the morning will probably be totally different by the end of the day to change depending on new daily priorities. You need to manage your time very well, but also make sure that you’re prioritising the right issue or person, whether it’s the client or the team. If both the client and the team need any support, you have to make a good judgement on who needs a response first. I think a sense of priority is definitely very important. At the same time, the challenge is also remaining constantly available and adapting your time to others.
Recently, our co-managing partner, Henry, introduced the MoSCoW method. Each initial stands for the degree of prioritisation for a task and that has been very helpful: ‘must do’, ‘should do’, ‘could do’, or ‘won’t do ’. This method helps to prioritise different tasks you could have during a set period of time. I have been using this method to clear my head and really have a focus on what I have to prioritise, and what could wait for maybe the next day or even the next week.
I also think putting your tasks and commitments in the calendar helps a lot. For example, for tasks like this interview, even if it is a co-worker promising a time to discuss, by putting it in your calendar, you promise yourself that you will stay committed and remember it.
Sim: For fresh career starters interested in operations, what do you believe are some of the skill sets necessary to be successful?
Elodie: I think to work in operations, you have to be happy to speak with the team, but also the clients, so communication is key. Remaining positive is also important, as your role requires you to make others happy and help support them in working better. To do that, I think that you also have to be quite well organised and be good at managing your own time because, as mentioned before, you will have a list of different tasks that you have to do. You have to be independent and self-aware to successfully complete your tasks and manage your priorities. This is necessary for success when working in the operations team of a business development and lead generation agency, and I really enjoy it!
Business and Operations Intern