Employees working for solution providers today need to be agile, able to quickly adapt to changing situations and work under high-pressure conditions. So where better than in a national political campaign organization could a solution provider turn to recruit new talent?
That's where New York-based Bluewolf, a fast-growing solution provider and leading Salesforce.com partner, found some of the talent it needed to staff up a new Chicago office. Bluewolf recruited several key personnel, including senior consultant Edward Schlicksup and consultant Allison Bellville, from the Barack Obama re-election campaign organization following the election.
Bluewolf's gain illustrates how solution providers, often hungry for talented workers, can find new employees in unexpected places.
The Obama campaign, headquartered in Chicago, utilized Salesforce.com's cloud services to help manage its operations. Schlicksup and Bellville played key roles in the campaign, gaining expertise not just with Salesforce.com technology, but also with the kind of work environment that mirrors how many solution providers find themselves operating today.
"We were in this very agile environment in the campaign," Schlicksup said in an interview with CRN, noting it took on the culture and processes of a business startup. The campaign had to be agile and quickly adapt to changing conditions, unexpected events and breaking news. "It was a bit of a pressure cooker."
"The campaign was extremely innovative. If you had an idea, you just ran with it," Bellville said in an interview with CRN.
"We're obviously looking for the best talent in the marketplace," said Corinne Sklar, Bluewolf's chief marketing officer, speaking about the solution provider's hiring efforts -- especially in cloud and mobile computing and social media.
But Sklar noted that talent goes beyond technical expertise, and that Schlicksup and Bellville helped build what was essentially a Fortune 500 company in seven months.
"It's really about the mindset," she told CRN. "People who are willing to think bigger. The need to execute on new ideas and respond to market changes. I think that's something that all businesses can learn from the Obama campaign. At the end of the day, it's people who enable technology."
NEXT: Backgrounds A Good Match For Bluewolf's Business CultureThe Obama campaign centered itself around voters, just as successful businesses today are becoming more customer-centric, Bellville said. And just as the campaign operated in a very dynamic environment, the speed of business today is forcing many companyies to take a new look at how they do things -- and that often starts with IT, Schlicksup said.
Schlicksup joined the Obama campaign in September 2011 and was in charge of implementing and managing the 120-seat Salesforce system. Custom applications were developed on top of Saleforce to manage the campaign's correspondence, budgets and call center, as well as to coordinate campaign surrogates, the Obama supporters serving as spokespersons.
Bellville was in charge of campaign correspondence, which totaled more than 5 million items during the life of the campaign.
Before the campaign, Schlicksup had some experience working with Salesforce for a startup. Bellville worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and 2010 midterm elections campaign for the Democratic National Committee.
Schlicksup attended a Saleforce Cloudforce event in Chicago last year and encountered Randy Rodriguez, Bluewolf managing director who was establishing a Chicago office and was looking for talent with Salesforce expertise. Rodriguez contacted Schlicksup to hire him right after the election when the campaign was winding down. "It felt like a very natural fit," Schlicksup said.
Schlicksup recommend that Bluewolf also hire Bellville, as well as bring on board John Chiodo, a campaign intern who is also now a Bluewolf consultant.
At Bluewolf, Schlicksup oversees Salesforce implementation and optimization projects for customers, determining business process requirements, and overseeing acceptance testing and training. "Translate," defining business processes, "transform" and "transcend" are the watchwords for what Bluewolf does, he said.
Bellville meets with customers and helps them identify their business requirements and streamline their business processes and workflows.
There are a lot of similarities between how things were done on the campaign and how Bluewolf works, Schlicksup said, including efficient project execution and relying more on face-to-face meetings and less on paperwork. "Bluewolf is a very agile company," he said.
PUBLISHED APRIL 18, 2013