As a new community engagement initiative of ACELR8, we started a Getting to Know series where we interview some of the people from our ACELR8 community, both internal and external, that have been involved in our work and our overall growth as a company. The goal is to stay engaged with our network, which includes: candidates, ACELR8ers, as well as our clients.
Contentful is one of Berlin's most successful startups. The company builds content management software that powers content for any digital device, enabling developers and editors to collaborate simultaneously and deliver digital experiences faster than with a traditional CMS. Since hundreds the world's largest brands use Contentful, they need a great sales team. We interviewed Maurizio Cappitta — who recently took over the lead of the sales development team — about his career and his role at Contentful.
How did your career start?
I started off in a call centre environment. I was managing a campaign back home in Malta for a large telecommunications company. We received inbound calls with regards to payments, bills, provisions of the telephone lines, etc. Then I moved to the UK, where I started off at a company that does outsource SDR services for tech companies. I started as a temp SDR, calling to Italian companies. I progressed there, got promoted a few times, and got additional responsibilities. Then I left because I wanted to work for a competitor which was larger and had more career prospects.
And then, at one point, when I was a team lead, I realised that I could work directly for a vendor, have similar responsibilities, and have even more career prospects. That’s why I left the second outsource provider. Then I met Contentful Managing Mobility of SDR. That’s where I’m coming from, in a nutshell.
What’s your typical morning routine like?
I have a look at what is my calendar like — what meetings I have to prepare for in terms of running reports, doing brainstorms, preparing feedback. I have a look at what new inbound leads have come in — that helps us identify what needs a personalised approach, everything else is automated. Then I have a look at emails. With SDR, I’ve always coached my team to start from the night before by identifying whom you want to call. I always recommend to spend the first hour of the day on making phone calls and then checking emails, right before the people that you’re trying to reach will be busy having meetings.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
As a team manager, one of the most exciting things is to take people that have no experience at all at being SDR — onboarding them, training them, and coaching them. And then, eventually, you see them progressing. They will learn a lot, and they will be successful. After someone has left the business and went on it’s really satisfying to see that they have progressed in other businesses, they have been promoted, they are earning a lot more than before. And these guys have been trained by you because they came and they knew nothing about the role. That’s very satisfying.
In this particular role, it’s been different from my last job, because I get to implement a lot of processes, best practices, a lot of that stuff. You can see how making a change to a process has a quick impact. That’s quite satisfying as well.
What challenges do you face at your company?
At Contentful, I’m lucky, because the support here is phenomenal. I’m very new here — it’s only my fifth week here — so that I think that the challenge is the fact that I just joined the company. There’s a lot of knowledge that I haven’t quite acquired yet and I’m not sure to whom to go to or which reports to run. And also, because I’m full of ideas and there is only so many hours in a day, that itself is a challenge. However, in a normal environment, someone in this type of role is likely to face challenges where you’re trying to balance the interest of different colleagues, who may expect different things from you.
What book has had the biggest impact on your career?
I cannot think off of a single book, over the years I read a number of them. I think one that really comes to my mind is actually a part of a series — One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard, and Spencer Johnson. Another interesting one that I read a few years ago was What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. The one that I keep coming back to every time I change a role, so I’m reading it now, is The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins. My suggestion to anyone looking at changing roles — read a lot as you go along.
I don’t necessarily only read business books, but also Financial Times, Economist, etc., because you get to learn a lot about how business works, you gain business knowledge, you learn a lot about processes that companies go to in different industry sectors. For example, I’ve never worked in the manufacturing industry, but I’ve learned a lot about how it works. Therefore, when I teach a team member how we sell to the manufacturing industry, I can provide a lot of cover on coaching based on what I’ve learned.
What’s your work playlist?
When I’m working in the office, it’s important for me to listen out to what my team is saying on a phone because I can give them feedback. When I’m working from home, I listen to lots of Dream Theater, Queensryche. I’ve also recently explored Alice in Chains, which for me ten years ago was unthinkable and a few weeks ago I actually went to see them live in London. Kamelot, Ronnie James Dio — music that was more prime in the 90s.
What would you suggest to someone who is seeking a new job?
Looking at what the role consists is, of course, important, but never underestimate the cultural effect because that can be a predictor of how successful you can be, how fast you can start to make an impact in the role. It can also have an impact on whether you’ll be looking for a new role in 24 months or you’ll love it enough so you’ll progress internally.