A Week in My Life: Armin Talić, Commercial Director, Komodo
Armin Talić is Commercial Director at Newcastle design and software engineering agency, Komodo, where he sets the vision for the company's commercial activity.
He works with external partners across business growth, content and marketing, working hard to push Komodo forwards in a diverse range of areas. Joining in 2014, Armin has been with Komodo through a period of remarkable development, helping it grow from offering web development, to now handling bespoke software engineering projects across the board.
Komodo works with clients like National Citizens' Advice and I Am Property Group, and employs 23 from its Newcastle office.
We found out what a week in Armin's life looks like as Komodo handles remote work and large-scale projects.
Every day starts with a full team stand-up, which we’re now doing via Google Meet rather than in person. It’s about being accountable to one another and our clients, discussing the wins of yesterday and planning for what’s to come. I’ll then unpick my inbox and create a plan of attack to get things done, using video calls or Slack to speak to the team about any tasks that need to be delegated.
I catch up with our Project Manager, Jason Christie, to chat through what’s happening on projects, see if there are any issues or things going particularly well, and generally keep in tune with service delivery.
Lunch prior to lockdown used to be a walk back home to walk my dogs, but now I’m with them constantly! I often find it tricky to find “a break from routine” because home is the office and vice versa, but aim to make time to get out and not spend literally all day in the home office.
In the afternoon I’m usually delivering responses to project briefs and taking calls with clients or prospects to review these and answer questions. We tend to deliver hugely detailed technical and design documents, which really showcases what we can do and also results in a much better outcome for the client, but they can come with a lot of questions!
I’ll also have calls with prospective clients to find out what they’re seeking, and if we’re the right fit for what they’re looking for. If we're not, we aren’t afraid to say so and don’t commit to projects we know aren’t for us or we can’t deliver on.
Then it’s a bit of general business admin - checking in on LinkedIn and Sales Navigator, before a final video call with our Client Services Manager, Chris Jones, who joined us just a mere eight weeks before lockdown. We catch up daily on client services and sales efforts for half an hour.
Mornings tend to look similar, and I’ll usually do a bit of analysis and prep for a call I have every Tuesday afternoon with our external marketing and PR team at Cameo Digital. I’m always keeping on top of industry trends, news and competitors, and asking the question “how can we be better?” Sounds like BS, but it’s literally a question I ask and seek the answer to routinely.
I regularly look at our site and collateral messaging to ensure we’re staying on top of our game and what we’re saying aligns with what the market’s buying. COVID-19 is a great example of how the focus has shifted and projects can be affected, so our content strategy shifted to share our own insights based on that.
I’ll then catch up with Ross Golightly from Sphera Consulting, who we’ve partnered with to help us with growth strategy as we scale the business and evolve our proposition.
Before the end of the day, I check my to-do list on Notion, catch up on projects and client updates, and check over some content from the team.
Another day, another stand-up meeting to kick things off, followed by a virtual meeting to plan a client discovery session. Prior to COVID-19, it would be a fully-immersive morning with a client where we’d delve into the project and how it should work, what their users need and how we can make it happen, followed by a nice lunch for everyone involved, somewhere in the city centre.
Now, it’s all done remotely using tools like Miro, but we’re constantly looking for ways to improve this experience, from investing in better hardware such as mics and lighting, as well as our virtual UX Kit which is a great resource for clients and prospects alike.
In the afternoon, I dive into resource and recruitment planning and follow up with team leads on recent interviews. Our three-step process includes a tech test for candidates to complete. We’ve made this (you guessed it) fully remote too, and are now doing around three interviews per week with talented software engineers to try and fill a number of roles we have available right now.
One thing we’ve definitely learned from lockdown with regard to recruitment is that our people don’t all need to be based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so we’re actively looking to engage with people outside of the NE postcode, ranging from Edinburgh to Leeds to Manchester, and further afield.
I take my daily call with Chris on all client and sales matters, and call it a day. Most people would say that they’ve struggled to create a good balance between their work and personal life since lockdown, but I’ve settled into it. We encourage our team to down tools at around 5pm every day and sign off in Slack so everyone knows they’re done for the day.
Almost there! The morning starts as usual with the team meeting, catching up on Slack and any relevant project updates, before a virtual client discovery session for a new project we have that’s about to kick off next month.
These sessions last around four hours when we’re in the studio as there’ll be a feedback session in the afternoon, but now we’re remote this is shorter and there’s sadly no fancy client lunch. Still, though, the sessions are just as effective done remotely, and they really help us understand what the end-user wants from a digital product. Great UX starts with our discovery workshops!
In the afternoon, I have a virtual meeting with our Managing Director, Andy Greener, on forward planning for how things might evolve once they go “back to normal” - whatever that might look like.
We’ve recently surveyed our full team on their at-home set up so we can help make it more comfortable and conducive to productivity and positive wellbeing. We’re believers that the workplace is going to change significantly for a long period of time, and we want to get the jump on that for the benefit of our team, future team members and of course, the clients we work with.
I wrap up the day with calls and some follow-up to this morning’s discovery session, catch up on clients and sales, and a deep dive into LinkedIn!
Grab a coffee… I usually have two or three strong coffees a day, but this lockdown has saved me a load of money as I’ve just made them at home. Invest in a bean-to-cup machine and you’ll never look back. I get stuck into my morning meetings and routine, catching up with the team on projects and what’s in the pipeline, and giving the OK to a number of content pieces we’ve been working on both internally and with our content marketing partner, Content by the Sea.
We’re investing a lot of time and resource into sharing our insight via relevant blog articles and whitepapers, as well as a webinar which is currently in the planning stage.
I take my lunch break then finish off any tasks I have outstanding that need to be sorted before the end of the week, before our weekly all-hands meeting that we ambitiously call the '5 by 5'. It’s meant to be five key updates on what’s happening in the business, delivered in five minutes… but that’s never happened once since we started those meetings over a year ago.
Like most businesses, we’ve stressed the importance of face time with colleagues and interaction between the team, which Slack helps with a lot, but our quiz nights on a Friday are a highlight!
Once that’s wrapped up, I have my final call of the week with Chris, then do some planning for the following week and escape the home office to chill with my dogs and switch off for the weekend.