Q&A with Sheila McDonnell, Business Development Program Manager at Virtual
1) WHAT DO YOU DO AT VIRTUAL?
I manage the company’s business development, which includes introducing new prospects to the right mix of Virtual services and staff so they can focus on what they do best and keep their operations running smoothly. I also assist internal teams with adding new service lines to existing clients so their organizations can succeed and prosper. I am usually the first point of contact for new groups or individuals when they inquire about who we are, what we do and how we can help their associations succeed. By introducing associations to Virtual and the services we offer, I can build a successful partnership that enables the organization to flourish.
2) WHAT IS MOST EXCITING ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
Every association is different. I love learning about the many different types of associations – there seems to be an association for everything! Virtual’s specialty is working with technology-based industry trade associations, standard-setting organizations, industry alliances, professional societies, consortia, and forums. The fact that associations’ missions and visions are all unique makes my job even more exciting. I always enjoy learning about each association and watching them evolve and grow.
3) WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CORE DUTIES, FUNCTIONS, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR ROLE?
My skills and responsibilities include keeping an eye out for new initiatives in the tech space and developing relationships with individuals and groups to further the Virtual brand. In initial conversations with prospects, I strive to understand their pain points and introduce unique ways Virtual can offer solutions. I then coordinate efforts with our internal teams so we can deliver the optimum services to the client in the most efficient and strategic manner.
4) WHAT TYPES OF SERVICES DOES YOUR ROLE REQUIRE?
It’s important that someone in my role has a good understanding of how we can help clients achieve both short- and long-term goals. I need to be able to clearly convey how Virtual can work with an association to improve its operational and member service efficiencies, among other areas. Many of our clients’ organizations are composed of volunteers who have their own day jobs while trying to manage their organizations at the same time. So conveying the benefits of how Virtual can cover key functional areas and provide support is key.
5) WHAT PART OF THIS JOB DO YOU PERSONALLY FIND MOST CHALLENGING?
Keeping pace with technological advances in our ever-changing world. Many of our clients are working in cybersecurity, identity management, open source and other software-related fields. Along with our senior team, I’ve spoken with prospects in a variety of new and interesting fields. I am always fascinated with the solutions these organizations have developed!
6) WHAT TYPE OF SKILLS ARE NEEDED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS ROLE?
To be successful in any growth or sales-related role, I’d recommend that an individual has a sense of urgency as well as exceptional organizational and follow-up skills. Technology groups typically have important milestone timelines to consider and need to keep pace with rapid advancements. At Virtual, we need to operate at the same speed to ensure our clients’ strategic goals are met. Success in my role means being responsive to an association’s important timelines.
7) WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
I enjoy being part of the larger Virtual team that works with associations to help them chart a new direction, turning an idea into a thriving organization. I also enjoy getting to know the prospects that eventually become our clients. An interaction that starts with just an email or phone call can be transformed into a lasting partnership with Virtual. Also, many of our clients are global and, when I get to meet them face-to-face, it is a huge bonus!
8) WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS LOOKING TO GET INTO THIS TYPE OF WORK?
Enjoy people and be excited to learn how new technologies impact our world.