Tackling awesome problems
Ask Owen Butler how he feels about the challenge of implementing file content searching on the more 100+ million files in the core Aconex application, and you might be surprised by his answer.
“It’s an awesome problem to work on,” he smiles. “Just the scale of how many documents are uploaded per day…”
Whatever that number, Aconex now houses close to a billion digital documents, in countless formats, from all corners of the globe, and in many languages and character sets.
“People search on documents in Aconex all the time,” Owen explains, “but at the moment it’s all metadata based. We’re working in that area, that same interface, helping people to search not just on metadata, but also on the text that’s in the documents themselves.”
To do that, Owen and Engineer Slava Ustovytski are employing a range of technologies.
“We’re using a tool called Apache Tika for text extraction, and Lucene and Elastic Search for indexing and searching. We’re also using Dropwizard to create smaller apps that can hook into the main Babylon application.
“Part of the reason why I so enjoy my job currently is we’re working off to the side of the main application, which means we can move a bit faster because we’re not connected to that big thing. Once we have our integration points we’re free to move faster, use different tools, and have more freedom.”
In fact, the pair have been given what Owen describes as “a lot of freedom” to solve the problem. “It’s a big, important piece of technology and we’re a small team, but we don’t get micromanaged. I really appreciate that,” he adds. “I feel like there’s a good level of trust. It’s very respectful and it’s pretty unique.”
So how exactly do they tackle the creation of that big, important piece of technology on a daily basis? Agile, of course!
“Slava and I are really running with the idea that teams can set their own Agile process as long as it’s effective. I don’t feel that between us we have to keep each other in check since we pair on most things.”
They use Trello to track tasks, and record decisions about architecture and technologies on a wiki. Owen sends stakeholders regular status updates. And there are in-person status checks and alerts.
“A large part of my job is collaborating with different teams and making sure that we don’t impact them,” Owen says, “or making sure we communicate with them before we have that impact.”
From requirements, analysis, and planning, to the day-to-day development, working with other teams, and actually building software every now and then, Owen says his job is “way more than just writing code. But you know, Slava and I try and share the load.”
Owen Butler, Tech Lead
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Choose your own adventure
"Building Information Modelling is disrupting the AEC industry", says Yoram Kulbak, an Engineering Manager at Aconex. "To realise BIM's potential the industry has to adjust its design, construction and facility management processes. Aconex has a unique opportunity to lead the industry through this change. And our team is trying to do exactly that".
Yoram manages ten inspired engineers building the latest addition to the Aconex core product: a 3D collaborative modelling tool called Connected BIM.
“There’s been a gear shift in what computers can do,” he explains. “PCs have become powerful enough to model the actual building elements rather than just two- or three-dimensional drawings.
“Architects and engineers can now drag and drop slabs, walls, columns and other building elements into their designs move them around and have the rest of the model automatically adjust to fit them in. We can automate processes like validating that a design satisfies the client's requirements, or make sure there aren’t any clashes between structural and MEP models. Models can be visualised on the construction site using mobile devices to reduce mistakes or hold-ups due to clarifications being required. I could go on and on…”
As you’d expect, problems like these involve plenty of technical challenges — and solutions.
“And everyone in the team gets an opportunity to do everything, based obviously on their skills and aptitude.”
The approach has worked well: the first release of Connected BIM to production took place eighteen months ago, and it came out of beta seven months ago. Today it has an engaged, and growing, userbase.
Yoram’s been on the team since it started about two and a half years ago with just a handful of specialists.
“Gradually, we expanded the team and varied the work,” he explains. “We became a more generalist kind of team by pulling people in from the Aconex core team and hiring people with different skills, and giving them tasks they didn’t know how to do.”
In this way, Yoram says, Aconex is a little different than other workplaces. “There is usually a demand for five years’ experience with a technology in business,” he observes. “But we know that engineers usually get tired way before they get to five years with anything.”
On his team, developers consider the technical aspects in the context of the domain as a whole. And they work with a dedicated Product Manager and embedded User Experience Specialist.
“What we want is people who aren’t just interested in tech, but are interested in domain-driven design,” he says. “They need to understand the business — not just write code, but understand the users and customers (which in Aconex are different than other places), and understand the value they produce.”
His focus on finding the right kind of people has paid off — and not just for users of Aconex Connected BIM. “We eat lunch together, some go to the footy together, some go running at lunchtime…” Yoram smiles. “Like a family.”
Yoram Kulbak, Senior Engineering Manager
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Empirical evidence matters
Zoltan Toth’s been working on BidContender for five years—almost as long as the project’s been running.
Uniquely within in Aconex, BidContender’s built on Ruby on Rails, and the team of three engineers does what Zoltan calls “all the standard agile stuff—TDD, CI, two week iterations, retros…”
“This particular team is quite autonomous with respect to the rest of the organization,” he reveals. “We make our own architectural decisions and because we’re a small team, we’re usually all across the decision we make.”
When it comes to those decisions, Zoltan says, “it all depends on the requirements. We don’t let the technology drive the requirements, obviously. We’re wary about why we’re using a new technology—it’s always to meet a requirement.
“Sometimes there may be three or four choices, so we’ll spike it and do an analysis. But if the cost of entry into a technology is small, we’ll just try it out.”
That attitude carries through the whole team, of which engineering is just one part. BidContender may be small, but it comprises all the disciplines required to run a business-within-a-business, from sales, through product delivery, to support.
“The cool thing about it is that, being amongst all those people, you get different perspectives,” Zoltan explains. “We still see ourselves as a startup—and a growth-hacking one at that. We work closely with marketing and sales. It’s an interesting place to be.”
“Our team is really quite UX-driven,” he says. “I see David’s (our UX guy’s) influence permeating through the team. It’s changed the way we think. Working with a UXer for five years makes you consider the end user experience earlier, when you think about solutions to problems or consequences of doing things.”
Being close to the business management has opened the engineering team’s eyes to the value of business metrics.
“One of the cool things that Mark, who manages BidContender, has introduced to our team is much more measurement of metrics, and in so doing now we’ve built up the tooling and capabilities to do hypothesis-based work,” Zoltan explains.
“We start off with a hypothesis: if I do this, this will happen. And we set up the measurements first to get a baseline. Then we affect a change that relates to the hypothesis, and we see if it makes a difference.
“A lot of the times we’ve been right; a couple of times there’s been no change. But it’s all a good learning experience,” he adds.
The increased awareness of business needs has also precipitated some interesting integration projects for the BidContender engineers. “We integrated with a payment gateway and with Salesforce, so from an operational perspective the product’s becoming more streamlined and efficient too.
Now the whole team has access to sales metrics. “We’ve got Geckoboard up there for everyone to see, and it’s pretty cool—you see stuff happening.
“Ultimately, you’ve got to measure,” Zoltan argues. Whether you’re the business owner or the engineer, “you need empirical evidence in business.”
Zoltan Toth, Software Engineer
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Delivering on design
“Construction sounds pretty dry from the outside,” says Marcus Coghlan, who leads the UX practice on the newest addition to the Aconex core product.
“But when you get in there and see the different organizations that use our products, and their goals, and how closely they have to collaborate to get things right, that’s really interesting. One of the things that’s kept me at Aconex for five years is that.”
The Aconex core product has been around since 2002, and as you’d expect, it’s evolved significantly in that time. The latest step in that evolution is the creation of Connected BIM, a 3D modelling tool.
When Marcus was offered the opportunity to join the newly formed BIM team 2 years ago, he jumped at the chance. “I didn’t know much about BIM in and of itself, but it was another greenfields project, kind of like a startup: starting from scratch with new product with a strong vision. Pretty exciting. And it’s 3D, which is cool.”
And challenging. Marcus admits that he didn’t have much domain knowledge when he came to the team. “BIM’s new within the industry itself, and it’s still emerging. It’s not an existing field where everything’s settled.” So research was critical.
“You need to get different perspectives from different people,” Marcus explains. “With BIM, they’re really meaty problems and there’s an interesting ecosystem of users out there that you’ve really got to dig into and understand. It’s pretty full on, and you’ve got to work hard at it, but there’s a depth there that I don’t think you’d get in a lot of other places. ”
The other side of the equation was his team.
“The good thing here,” he says, “is that the people you work with have a far better understanding of UX than elsewhere and actually value it as key part of delivery, as opposed to something you do at the end. That's probably come about from UX being embedded in the engineering teams. We’re part of the delivery team, not just consultants.”
“There’s also a huge number of advantages for design in Agile and Lean methodologies when your team’s willing to play along. If they’re willing to go back and acknowledge that the first time things were tried they weren’t right, that can work really well. It takes the pressure off up-front because as the UX person, you don’t have to convince everyone you know everything when you don’t.”
As a result of this approach, he says, “we had an alpha product really quite early that we were able to get out to people and get feedback on.” And things grew from there…
…including his team. From a handful of people a couple of years ago, Marcus now works with ten engineers and a dedicated Product Owner.
“In the last six to twelve months, the big priority has been keeping the engineering stream fed with what they need to go forward and meet their goals. It’s a constant balancing game. You need to counter that with strong beta programs to test things out before you get to code.”
It’s intense, he says, “but in a good way. I’ll work from home some days to get thinking space and work through things. And I’ve got a lot of support from the UX team, just being able to bounce ideas off them.”
“I think at Aconex there’s a lot more that you can actually do for people than at other places—really positive, helpful things rather than just forcing features onto people. You can make quite a difference in their work day.”
Marcus Coghlan, Product Designer
Working with Aconex for 8 years
Revolutionizing an industry
David McNamara’s got energy. Lots of it.
“I’m part of a small, cross-functional team where the whole business unit are sat together—from sales, to support, to engineers, to marketing,” he explains in a rush. “If you want to get something done, you just get it done.”
David works on BidContender, an online application that lets builders list tenders for work, and contractors bid on them. It’s been around for five years, and David’s been working on the UX for two and a half. “It’s got a startup feel,” he says, “with the backing of a corporate.” For him, that means two things.
Being part of the broader Aconex UX team means he has a bunch of people outside his product to bounce ideas off.
“I’ve never been in a situation before where there was anyone else in the business who did what I do. So it’s really nice to have people to talk to who know what you’re on about,” he laughs.
The other huge benefit, he says, is better decision making.
“One of the downsides of startups can be making short-term decisions because you know you have to make money within a certain time, or you’re gone.” While of course BidContender has an imperative to make money as an Aconex product, David observes what he calls “a willingness to see the longer-term picture—to invest in doing the job right rather than just hacking something together.
“There’s always this contention in UX between solving the users’ problems and solving the business’s problems,” he explains. “Particularly in a business-to-business world, where what you need to do is solve the purchasing decision maker’s problem rather than the users’ problem, which can be quite a short-term success.”
“We take a bit more of a long-term view. If we make our user’s lives significantly better than not doing that, it will be a more long-lived success.” And one that feeds back into the business over a longer timeframe. For David personally, that potential is enormously motivating.
“If you get these decisions right, you can make a whole lot of people’s work days a whole lot more satisfying.
“Someone was trying to get me to work at an online store the other day and I thought, ‘Selling t-shirts ... is that going to change the world?’ Whereas this is literally changing an industry. We’re currently replacing a paper-based or email-based systems with a much more capable and much more efficient software as a service, and that is literally revolutionising the world of tendering.
“It really is making a difference in a whole lot of people’s lives. It’s about the meat of making someone’s working life better,” he smiles, “which somehow makes you feel it’s worth getting passionate about.”
David McNamara, UX Designer
Working with Aconex for 5 years
The real value of a UX team
At Aconex, the user experience extends beyond the products themselves. It’s a philosophy that saw our product support website, Aconex Support Central, named among the world’s top ten support sites for 2015 by the Association of Support Professionals.
“The old help site pages existed as if they were printed documents,” reveals Kristen Hardy, who did the initial research and redevelopment for the current site. “There was no explanation around Aconex-specific concepts.”
The redeveloped site “was the culmination of a year of user research and tweaking,” she says. “It took me a year to realise the site in and of itself isn’t where people are going to come to first,” she adds. “You have to accept that the help site is going to be a bit about taking people from a basic level, and walking them through the Aconex-specific jargon.”
Maintaining and developing that learning experience for users has been a focus for Ross Stanley, who now looks after the site’s UX on a full time basis, with Kristen as a sounding-board.
“Now we’re focusing on better integration of support into the app,” Ross explains. “We have a lot of great information there but it’s not easily accessible from some of the products. We want to help people who are having difficulty, and catch them in context.”
These two award-winning UX specialists continue to work on these issues within a small team comprising a developer and a writer/producer. Together, they create support content, integrate it where they can into various products, and continually improve the support-related user experience.
“It’s awesome now to see how many people are working on it, good people that the business is committed to,” Kristen smiles. “That really blows my mind.”
And that group is also part of the broader UX team at Aconex.
“For my perspective, every opportunity to work with a different designer is a bonus and something to be valued” says Kristen. “In a lot of companies there aren’t many designers, so there’s no one to work with.”
Ross agrees. “Even just having the regular UX team meetings. That’s very different,” he says. In other workplaces, “you feel more of an outsider, and it can be hard to get your case across.”
“There’s an expectation with UX that you’re meant to be an expert on everything,” Kristen adds. “But it’s not actually possible. So it’s good that we have a range of people with deeper knowledge on one aspect in the team.
“There’s something really valuable to having someone with the same mindset to bounce ideas off,” she laughs. “Even if you disagree with them!”
The team’s award is a testament to that collaborative philosophy.
Kristen Hardy, Senior Interaction Designer
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Bring new opportunities to light
“My main responsibility is in the area of demand generation,” says Frank Carron, Vice President of Marketing. “There’s a real buzz in helping uncover an opportunity that eventually leads to a million-dollar sale—in helping bring that to light, and handing it over to sales to do their job.”
Frank’s field marketing team is heavily focused on creating events—around 80 each year—that give our sales team the opportunity to meet prospects, and tell the story of what Aconex can do for them.
“So this week, we’ve been sponsoring a capital projects summit in Lima, Peru,” Frank explains. “There, we’ve been presenting on our solution and leading workshops on rail and infrastructure.
“Tomorrow and Thursday we’re hosting high-level dinner on the 95th floor of a Chicago tower for about 30 customers and prospects. We’ve got one of our largest clients flying in from Boston to present on their project, and how Aconex has helped. The next day, that client and others will be receiving national awards for innovative use of technology, which is part of our customer success program.
“At the same time,” he adds, “we’re planning events in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, London, Melbourne, Auckland, Singapore, and Tokyo to run over the next eight weeks.”
Frank, who’s been with Aconex for ten years, manages a field marketing team of six in four locations around the world. It’s work he clearly loves.
“There’s one dynamic to organising something like a webinar, and the excitement you feel when you have 300 people logged in at 8am waiting to start,” he enthuses. “There’s a different dynamic when you’re trying to get 20 hand-picked industry leaders to a top Shanghai restaurant to hear one of their peers talking about using Aconex.
“And it’s different again at a conference, where you’re relating what we do to a broad audience in a way that’s relevant to their day to day challenges. Your aim may be to make connections on the day but you also want to simply provide insight, which is like planting a seed for the future.
“I genuinely love the fact that I work with people from Dubai to Denver and from Brisbane to Bangalore,” he adds. “It’s never dull.”
Frank Carron, Vice President of Marketing
Working with Aconex for 12 years
Being a part of it
“Personally I have an interest in technology,” says Gordon Marx, Senior Manager of Product Marketing. “So I enjoy working on software. It’s leading-edge technology, and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.”
Back in 2011, Gordon moved from the short-term-focused, low-margin world of FMCG marketing to work at Aconex. “Here we try to make large construction projects work better, so we have the opportunity to make a tangible difference.
“Projects likes hospitals and infrastructure have a direct impact on people’s lives,” he adds. “Much more fulfilling than some other roles I’ve had in the past.”
But it’s not just Aconex technology that captures Gordon’s imagination.
“Recently we did a lot of work around sales enablement for the oil and gas industry,” he explains. In the process, “we worked across a lot of different areas, including of course Sales and Client Operations. We built sales assets from scratch. That was challenging. We really had to know the market, the competitive landscape, and understand the challenges that clients and prospects face out there in the industry.”
Gordon says the work required him to learn a lot about the oil and gas industry. “I think it’s amazing what can be built and manufactured. The technology behind large construction projects is very impressive. Pretty cool, actually.”
He notes that the project also “provided a lot of exposure to people and functions in the business, so it was both exciting and fulfilling from a learning and career perspective.”
The chance to work with lots of different people is something Gordon loves about Aconex. “In other industries you tend to work in the region you’re in,” he admits. “Here you have exposure to other regions, and you get to understand what’s different, how they do things, and the different dynamics in different places—as well as the opportunity to travel and support the regions.”
Recently, waiting for flights on the way home from a conference in the United States, Gordon chatted with Leigh, our CEO. “In some organisations, the CEOs are quite distant – they don’t speak to most people and often don’t know them. But that example typifies the culture at Aconex. Here, everyone can have input. Everyone can have a voice.”
Gordon Marx, Senior Manager of Product Marketing
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Enjoying the freedom to achieve
“Not a lot of people have this opportunity,” says Cinthia Luna, Online Advertising Specialist, who’s preparing to visit China for a conference on digital advertising.
“We’re going to be developing the online advertising strategy for China, so I’ll be attending a digital marketing conference in China and learning more about the online advertising landscape over there so we can set a customized strategy for that country.”
Before Aconex, Cinthia worked on the agency side as an search marketing specialist. But, she says, there’s only so much you can learn about Adwords and Bing.
“I’ve always done global advertising, but this scale and level of detail is something else. It’s a lot more challenging than ecommerce,” she explains. “In ecommerce you’re seeing direct conversions in real time. But with b2b there’s a much more complicated sales cycle you have to take into account. There are tons of pieces in the puzzle. You never stop learning.”
Cinthia also appreciates the depth of the work she’s able to do now she’s moved from agency to the client side.
“Being a dedicated specialist gives you the opportunity to get as creative as possible. You have to manage so many different initiatives, but it’s been great to learn how to multitask projects, and a great learning experience overall.”
In many agencies, she says, “you’ll have ten different consultants for ten different channels. It’s not challenging enough,” she adds. “You get caged in.”
But at Aconex, she describes herself as “busier! I feel I’ve been given a lot of liberty and trust in order to achieve results.” And for Cinthia, that’s enormously exciting. “My hope is seeing how far I can go with global advertising. Can I take what I’m doing with China and see what I can do with that for the other regions?
“It’s great working at this office, too, and seeing what the field and product marketers do,” Cinthia adds. “I feel like the possibilities are open as far as my role in advertising or marketing in general.”
Cinthia Luna, Online Advertising Specialist
Working with Aconex for 4 years
Love the thrill of the chase
“I love the thrill of the chase—and the kill. I love going into a room full of hostile people at two o’clock and having them love me by five!”
Alan Haslop, Director of Sales for Strategic Accounts in Europe and the Middle East, says he also gets “a big sense of personal achievement” from coaching others to sell more effectively. So when you ask him how he feels about his work, he doesn’t hesitate.
“I’d say this job is pretty much perfect.”
Alan spent five years working as a Sales Manager in the Aconex Dubai office before leaving for a stint at Oracle. Now he’s back, supporting a team of Business Development Managers as they sell into massive accounts with six- to 12-month sales cycles.
“I help them work out how to attack the account,” he explains. “We need to understand customers’ strategies, their people, who’s influential, and how we communicate their use of Aconex back to them.”
With his background, Alan’s also able to coach his team to better understand customer ecosystems, and how they can position Aconex within the client’s broader technical picture.
“Scheduling, field-facing cost, project financial accounting, earned value management, work order management systems, asset management, and design coordination—it all has a role to play.”
The coaching, which is his own initiative, makes up around 20% of Alan’s working week. He’s very excited by “being able to drive and support the transformation of the sales culture for the better.
“I love being a core part of change in the way our sales team goes to market,” he says, “and seeing people change their behavior—watching a salesperson witness first hand that what they’re trying is working.”
Since he himself loves the challenge of selling, it’s not hard to see why he enjoys his work so much.
“It’s a good team I’m part of,” he adds. “I feel a lot of respect from the guys at the top. The management team know their stuff and they have vision.”
Alan’s not one to predict the future, but he does have a good feeling about what’s next.
“The product is exciting,” he says, “and I think the potential for this business is massive.”
Alan Haslop, Director of Sales for Strategic Accounts in Europe and the Middle East
Working with Aconex for 10 years
A world of opportunity
What was it that convinced Ed Boxall to join the Aconex UK office back in 2010?
“The international company, the opportunity to travel, and the young and vibrant community that we are,” he says. “The Australians are mad and the Brits follow shortly after, so we all get on well.
“You feel a bigger part of an international business at Aconex.”
Ed works as a Regional Sales Manager from our UK office, which has around 15 team members.
“Each day’s different,” he explains. “The more effort you put in, the more you can achieve.”
Ed’s region looks after Europe and parts of Africa, “so for the larger opportunities, we do find ourselves travelling to countries like Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
“We also get involved in projects sold by other regions where their projects either have stakeholders or supply-chain companies based in the UK who need our local assistance. This helps differentiate Aconex from the competition, who can’t support projects this way.”
Helping each other is one of the things that the sales teams enjoy—and appreciate about the company’s global network.
“We’ve had two global sales conferences since I’ve been with Aconex,” Ed explains. “One in Macau, and one in Hawaii. Those events give you the opportunity to really meet your colleagues and peers at Aconex both in the work environment and outside of it, and to build relationships. When you’re working on projects based in other regions, it really does help.”
And within his own office, Ed says, “of course we see each other all the time, we do team building events, and since we’re a smaller office, we’re very close to all of the departments here.”
That close teamwork is critical to sales success. Ed describes the UK as “a mature market. We’ve got probably the toughest market in the world, with lots of strong competition, so our main objective is to take a percentage of the market from those competitors.”
With that objective in focus, he says, “I see the region growing stronger and stronger and with it increasing revenue and sales team headcount.” And what kinds of people will fill those roles?
“You have to have strong willpower to get up and do these things,” he finishes. “You have to be self-motivated and be very much a people person. People buy from people.”
Ed Boxall, Regional Sales Manager
Working with Aconex for 7 years
Driven by the vision
“It all comes back to good old communication with like-minded people,” is how Maron Adreoli, New Zealand Country Sales Manager, characterises Aconex.
In his role as part of a smaller regional office, he says, it’s “prospecting one day, appointments another.
“Over the last ten years the New Zealand market’s been growing and growing. My focus has been on making sure we can work with tier-one organizations where we’re interested in enterprise engagements.
“There are layers of communication to every sale,” he explains. “It could start with me introducing myself to a new project team, and identifying an opportunity to meet with them. After that, we understand each other better, and it moves on to proposals. There’s usually some sort of commercial discussion face-to-face or on the phone or webinar that usually results in a negotiation.”
Keeping in close contact with peers in other regions is critical to his success, he says.
“We’re in communications with head office on a regular basis. And if we need extra resources, they make themselves available very quickly. We feel a part of that office, and the ANZ team in particular.”
But this is just one in a network of the global Aconex relationships that help Maron do his job—and do it well.
“Being a country sales manager I catch up with the regional managers on a regular basis. And I can always call on individuals around the globe in the Aconex family.”
“There is something special about Aconex that I do like,” he continues. “We have a good vision, and I firmly believe in the system I’m selling—that it makes a difference. The founders believe in it 100% as well.
“If you look at the enthusiasm from the top down and the bottom up, we all live and breathe Aconex. It’s a good place to be.”
Maron Andreoli, New Zealand Country Sales Manager
Working with Aconex for 8 years
Projects you can be proud of
“It’s actually quite exciting!” Rohan Watt says of the occasions he’s been one of a handful of remote-office staff delivering Aconex to clients. Like the time he started an office in Libya. Or worked in Morocco. Or delivered projects in Algeria.
“All of a sudden you’re the one. It’s down to you. You win or lose.”
Of course, Rohan likes to win. As Regional Operations Manager for Middle East, Africa and Europe, he works in our Dubai office, delivering some of our largest and most important projects with a team of around 29 people.
“In Client Operations, we support clients to manage and deliver their project in the most efficient way,” he explains.
“So on one level, my job’s about maintaining relationships in the team, really supporting them and showing I’m there to help them. But I also need to help maintain high-level client relationships. Clients find it reassuring to know that someone at management level is supporting them.
“To give you an idea, yesterday we had an internal meeting to talk about better ways for us to work with the Sales team. I also went to a client site to encourage them to take on a more efficient way of supporting their project. In that meeting, I had to use three different languages: Arabic, English, and French.”
For Rohan, who spent his first month in the Melbourne office back in 2007 before being seconded overseas, the international flavour of his work is exhilarating.
“It’s exciting delivering and working on large key infrastructure projects in this region.” Rohan smiles. “With those kinds of projects, you can feel that you’ve really made a difference.”
Rohan Watt, Regional Operations Manager for Middle East, Africa and Europe
Working with Aconex for 11 years
A sense of fulfillment
“Every time you speak to a user, you get the chance to help them,” explains Cristy Bautista, our Contact Centre Operations Manager. “Whenever I hear that simple ‘thank you,’ I know I’ve done my job. Mission accomplished!”
Cristy began with the Aconex Middle East contact centre in 2008. She moved to Melbourne in 2012, and today she manages the day-to-day running of our contact centres in Melbourne, Bangalore and San Bruno. Cristy ensures that the phones are manned at all times, and that her team has what they need to take queries from clients and customers, and respond to internal requests for help.
“There are different products, too, so there’s a wide range of requests that you get on a daily basis.” Cristy adds.
“Before joining Aconex, I worked in a contact centre where things were mostly scripted. This is different,” she explains. “You have to think outside the box, and ask the right questions. You have to troubleshoot the problem, and that can be quite technical at times. We also get to identify and escalate bugs.
“In a way,” she reveals, “we’re guiding and teaching people how to use the system. That helps them save time and be more productive at work. I might speak to a person uploading 5000 documents, and there may be a better way than the one they’re using. Even by showing them how to use the tool over the phone, you get that sense of fulfilment.”
Cristy also enjoys the cultural differences that arise with a global clientele. “Issues that are similar in their technicalities can have varying cultural implications,” she explains. But other hurdles, like timezone differences and web or phone access, also come into play.
“We have to be accessible by all means or tools,” Cristy adds. “That’s a 24/7 helpdesk!”
Cristy Bautista, Contact Centre Operations Manager
Working with Aconex for 10 years
Love what you do
“When I took on the role I was trainer, helpdesk, and reception. There were 16 people at Aconex worldwide,” says Elissa McMicking. Her more than twelve years’ work at Aconex recently culminated in a move to the role of Engagement Manager.
“Our job is to find ways to make sure the client has the best experience of Aconex possible. The Engagement Manager role gives me the ability to do that extensively for a single client.
“That’s why I found the job so attractive. Our focus with each client is to customize their use of the system, and communicate that through to all of their staff. This is the tool of choice, this is our expectation for its adoption within the business, and this is what we want to get out of it. That’s good for both parties,” she adds. “We’ve got the opportunity to delve deeper into understanding their business requirements and really fulfilling those. It’s that interaction with the client that I love most.”
As she speaks, it’s clear that Elissa’s really energized by the “people” aspect of her role.
“Having a brilliant team of people to work with who inspire and support me every day” is what’s kept her at Aconex for so long, she says. ”If I didn’t have awesome people to work with, I don’t think I would have stayed.”
“I’ve worked in remote and regional offices where I’ve had to reach out to all of my colleagues. I think that’s something that I’ve always made a point of doing as well.”
It’s that attitude—as well as her experience in the business—that makes Elissa something of a go-to person for Client Operations. She’s been seconded to places as varied as Athens and the United Arab Emirates for project work, and has routinely traveled throughout Australia and New Zealand to help clients get the most out of Aconex.
“I think my future’s pretty bright!” she laughs. “I’m really encouraged and enthused by this next chapter—that’s effectively what it is. I’ve just moved to another region, and I’ve gone from working with one or two people in the office to 20! But I love everyone here, they’re spectacular.”
The secret to Elissa’s success?
“I really enjoy being a chameleon,” she adds. “I’m a shape-shifter, and I like moving with the times.”
Elissa McMicking, Engagement Manager
Working with Aconex for 15 years
A different kind of challenge
“It’s so different to anything that I’ve done before,” says Tim Neville, Credit Officer for Asia and the Americas in our Melbourne-based Finance team.
“This is the first international ledger that I’ve worked on, and it’s a lot larger in terms of scope — the number of invoices, the number of companies, timezones, cultural differences, language barriers, and different accounting practices. There are definitely varying challenges between each region,” he adds.
So it’s not surprising that he describes the role as a mix between problem solving and human interaction. In any one day, Tim might receive confirmation from a remote BDM that a paper check has been banked, work with an offshore client to unearth reasons for non-payment and, of course, keep on top of the ledgers for Asia and America.
“It’s definitely not just about the figures,” he explains. “You’re always trying to build good relationships. That’s why I like it: for the client and stakeholder interaction. It’s not just about my role or the finance aspect. It’s about the company as a whole and how I fit in.”
That feeling extends far beyond Tim’s day-to-day responsibilities, though.
“You wouldn’t go to the extra lengths, and it wouldn’t be as satisfying, if Aconex wasn’t such a nice place to be,” he smiles. “It’s a great part of working here that I get to interact with so many different teams — including the social aspect when Friday night drinks roll around.”
And anyone who stops by the Aconex kitchen after work on Friday can attest that Tim’s always up for a chat.
Tim Neville, Credit Officer for Asia and the Americas
Working with Aconex for 3 years
No closed doors
“Finance is seen as a support role, but I've never felt as integrated with the business as I do here,” explains Anant Sharma, who’s been an Assistant Accountant with Aconex since mid-2014.
“We have more to do with the other departments than in a typical finance environment, and I know more about what this company does than I have in other environments I’ve worked in.”
Why is that? Anant thinks it’s because “there are no closed doors” at any level of Aconex.
He gives the regular, all-in Town Hall meetings as an example. There, Ananat says, ”we share what we do. You can talk to anyone. We get to see the business numbers, and we get to see the people behind those numbers. It’s great when someone from a different department comes in a tells you what they do.”
It’s valuable, he says, because “you want to see where you’re going as a company, what’s the plan. That’s important stuff.”
It’s especially so for Anant, whose role takes in sales tax, treasury, transfers and the company’s fixed asset registers, and sees him spend most of his time dealing with people outside of Aconex.
“My day might start with talking to someone in North America, and end with a call to the Middle East,” he says. “It’s usually people like local accountants, tax authorities and bank representatives,” he explains. “You have to keep talking to people on the ground to see what they can do for you.
“I work in so many different areas, from financial accounting to tax compliance. So I get to work with a lot of people,” he adds. And along the way, he gets strong support from his team.
“You can talk to anyone here,” Anant explains. “It’s a flat structure, and you know what’s happening.
“The people around us are so dedicated to what they do. Sometimes you don’t want to go home — you want to stay and help out. But you feel looked after,” he adds. “And you feel your contribution is valuable.”
Anant Sharma, Assistant Accountant
Working with Aconex for 4 years
Rare opportunities — and rewards
“There’s a lot of flexibility, and for a business in an industry there are a lot of opportunities,” says Siew Li Hammond, who left the auditing world for what she hoped would be a better work-life balance in industry.
She found it at Aconex.
“I wasn’t looking for the role, but a recruiter contacted me and suggested I apply for it. I was very fortunate in that sense, because this is an ideal role. It’s very unique, and it uses all my finance background and skills.”
Having worked as a Revenue Analyst with Aconex since 2014, Siew Li has been thrilled with some of the projects she’s worked on.
“When I first started I was included in a cross functional project team to roll out a new Contract End Process,” she reveals. “It’s a big project, and not normally one you’d get to do in Finance. It was great to be involved in such a high-priority project with team members from across a broad spectrum of the business. It also gave me more exposure and understanding to our internal processes, contracts and systems.”
In her day-to-day work Siew Li works closely with the finance, reporting and invoicing teams as well as operations and sales teams. ”While I don’t influence the sale, I can see how I’m helping the business,” she says. She also has regular meetings with the GMs from each region, “to manage and resolve project and contractual matters.”
“It’s great team that will back you up,” Siew Li explains. “They’re always available if you need help. And my manager and his manager are always accessible, so no matter what level you are, you can just go and talk to people. You don’t need to make formal meetings or anything like that. You can just ask.”
This level of openness and trust is something Siew Li really values. And it extends beyond the work itself, which she loves.
“I start a little bit later than some of the others because I ride to work,” she says. “Another member of the team works four days a week because she has other commitments. The management are very open to flexible working hours which is great for everyone.”
She also mentions team lunches, the destinations for which are chosen by each team member in turn, in a typically “Finance team” division of decision-making and responsibility. “I kept choosing dessert places,” she reveals, “so what we do now is whoever organises lunch gets to choose where we go and choose the next person to organise lunch.”
Siew Li is proud to note that she has, however, single-handedly upped the chocolate intake of the team.
Siew Li Hammond, Revenue Analyst
Working with Aconex for 4 years