Career interview with: Simon Baume
Role: Head of Growth
Company: Legal Vision
Transition: Consulting, Banking and Law to Tech Strategy
Simon's LinkedIn profile
What does your typical day at work look like?
My role has four main elements:
(1) Strategy + Business Intelligence: providing data analysis to support decision making. Ranging from building the revenue forecast model to sales pipeline analysis to valuing potential targets for acquisition.
(2) Finance: looking after process improvements to our accounting and finance function.
(3) Sales + Partnerships: running a 3-person outbound sales team which includes building partnership/affiliate relationships.
(4) Management: forming part of the LegalVision management team. Providing advice to the CEO on firm-wide issues like org structure, culture, strategy, etc.
0800 emails and planning my day
0900 meeting with CEO to discuss outputs from recent culture survey
1015 discuss potential referral arrangement with Head of Marketing
1045 email potential referrer with commercial terms
1115 review proposed changes to the structure of our accounts to make budgeting simpler
1200 draft copy for website of a referral partner
1300 lunch in the office with colleagues
1345 meet with CEO and other management team members to storyboard a presentation that I'll be preparing for the CEO's next all hands meeting - discussing outputs of culture survey
1500 answer questions from my sales team regarding our strategy at an upcoming tradeshow
1600 discuss with Marketing a potential content partnership - where we draft content for another firm's site
1700 think about changes to the sales team structure including meeting cadence, remuneration, team size and roles, etc.
1800 gym, rock climbing, hill sprints or similar
2030 some emails, usually on my phone. Maybe review an article for our website
What are the best parts of your role?
Guiding the firm-wide strategy in terms of product, recruitment, culture and sales. Input to many aspects of the business (Finance, Strategy, Sales, etc.). Being privy to a lot of information about the business. Doing novel deals with partners, that add genuine value to their customers and our clients.
What are the most challenging/difficult parts of your role?
Business Intelligence: navigating data inconsistencies to produce actionable insights. Finding the most valuable insights in the sea of information.
Management: motivating team members to buy-in to process changes (eg additional coaching or a new sales process).
Partnerships: saying NO to partners where I don't see genuine value for our clients and their customers.
How is success measured in your role?
As a management team member / strategist, I'm measured based on the CEO's subjective view of the 'value' I'm adding to the business. A higher performer is autonomous, dedicated and innovative.
As a sales team leader, I'm measured on my team's ability to meet its sales target (number of new accounts per quarter). A top performer meets the target while setting up structures and processes that will allow the team to scale efficiently.
What advice would you give to people trying to get a job in your company or field of work?
- Be autonomous and reliable. If a manager can assign a task to you and feel as if they no longer need to worry about that problem - like it's 'off their plate' - you'll be treasured. - Make your boss look good. Humans are self-interested. By making your boss's life easier, or by helping her to excel in her role, you'll ingratiate yourself.
- Be rigorous at all times. Even draft documents and emails should have no errors. Anything you provide to your manager should be 'client ready'. This shows your manager that you care about the finished product and are thinking ahead.
- Get some sales experience. Sales is another way of saying 'motivating others to part with resources'. It's a cornerstone of any role in business.
- Learn how to negotiate using numbers. Data is hard to argue with. By using data to make objective, logical arguments, you'll save a lot of time arguing.
- Be so valuable that your company will break the rules for you. Rules are for people who need structured guidance and direction. If you're autonomous and incredibly valuable to your company and show that you don't need structured guidance (ie that the company trusts you), you'll notice the rules magically melt away.
What kinds of roles do people in your field of work go on to do after they move on, either if they stay in the industry or leave the industry?
As a 'generalist' working across sales, finance and management in a startup, exit options are numerous but hard to pin down. The most obvious next step is to be a General Manager of our first overseas office (eg London).
Other internal options include:
- Head of another team (e.g. Enterprise Sales or Product)
External options include:
- Management consultant
- Join a larger high-growth startup (eg Facebook, Dropbox, Canva)
- Internal Strategy role at a large corporate
Why did you transition from consulting, banking and law to consulting?
My path: Studied Law and Economics > Management Consultant > Internal Strategy at a Bank > Strategy and Sales role at LegalVision (current).
(A) I made the transition from strategy work for large companies to a startup because I wanted to work in a small company. I wanted to learn directly from the founder. I wanted to feel and see my own impact. I wanted to learn to be more autonomous and more confident making decisions.
(B) I made the transition by: (i) research the startup space in Sydney - going to meetups and talking to entrepreneurs, reading startup news sites; (ii) interviewing at more established startups like Google and Deliveroo; (iii) telling as many people as possible that I was looking for a new role and trusting my network to deliver - it did!
Convincing a future employer that a generalist consulting skill set is valuable for a startup is difficult. Many have to start in sales (as I did). Committing to 6-12 months in sales and smashing your targets is often a good way for a generalist to get a foot in the door at a startup.