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Valenco Case studies # 1 - Shirley - Grow in pre-sales or as a program manager

The beginning

Shirley graduated with a degree in engineering, was recruited by a leading technology consulting firm, and deployed in a team working on a large platform migration for a client.

As the interface between the client PMO and the developers working on the project, she tracked project deliverables and reported progress. Though the hours were long, she was able to ensure that her deliverables were on time and accurate.

By the end of the first year, she realized that the work was neither challenging nor exciting her. She was in conference calls or sitting in front of the computer writing progress sheets, not really delivering any tangible output.

And then

Her supervisor offered her an option to move into a project implementation role. Given her technical education, the thinking was that she would become productive quickly and also learn new skills.

She transitioned into the new role to soon discover that coding and testing were not her forte.

New beginnings

Recognizing that she was running out of options with her existing employer, Shirley started to look for roles outside. One conversation was with a provider of an emerging technology platform. They saw her as a tech savvy young engineer who could support the sales team in assessing the fitment of their platform to client requirements.

In the initial months Shirley was trained on the platform and spent time with the team which developed it. She did an analysis vs. competing platforms, use cases for select industries, and wrote a strategy note on where to focus sales efforts.

Having done this, she started to work with the sales team, providing them with content and insight during sales cycles.

Acknowledging that she had a very good understanding of the offerings, the sales team started to request her presence in client meetings and presentations. She joined in and was able to engage with clients well. They respected her knowledge of the platform and how and where it would work well for them.


One sales pursuit was a large value deal with a Fortune 100 company. Shirley was actively engaged in creating the content and presentation materials and was present during some of the key discussions with the prospective client.

After an extended evaluation, Shirley’s employer won the business.

The client wanted Shirley involved during the implementation of the project. They felt that she demonstrated very good grasp of their requirements and how the platform needed to fit in and perform. They saw Shirley as someone who could guide the project teams to a clear understanding of the requirements and ensure that the deliverables were consistent with them.

The program leader also concurred. He felt that having her as part of the team would bring clarity to the scope of work and deliverables. In addition, Shirley had built a very good rapport with the client which would help in open communication as well as resolving any bumps should they occur.

The dilemma

Shirley’s supervisor did not want to lose a productive member of her team.

Given the experience at her previous employer, Shirley was also less than keen on taking on a role in project delivery and PMO.

She was enjoying her current role, good at it, and did not want to move away.

On the other hand

It was a very important client and a high visibility business win. It was essential that the implementation be delivered successfully.

Being engaged with it and contributing to its success would give a boost to her standing with her employer.

She would also be able to demonstrate that she was open to change and willing to adapt.

In addition, the knowledge gained from being part of a real-life platform implementation would be valuable in refining the content and discussions during future sales cycles.

Shirley grew up in your neighborhood and was visiting her parents. As their next-door neighbor, you had seen her from when she was in middle school. Knowing that you had worked many years in the industry, she bought a box of donuts, knocked on your door, and shared her dilemma with you.

Having heard her story, what would you recommend she do?

1. Stay on with her current group and assignment and grow in it.

2. Move out into the project delivery team.

3. Another option?

The advice she received.

Shirley is grateful for the advice she received, which is summarized below

The “Other option” which was recommended by many was that she participate in the new program either splitting her time with her current role or move into it full time with a commitment from her employer that she will come back to her pre-sales role in a 6 – 12-month period.

What has she decided to do?

Since both the client and project delivery teams are keen that Shirley be engaged in the project implementation, she realizes that she cannot disregard it. At the same time, project delivery is not her preferred career path, even in the short term.

Shirley offered to brief the project team on the discussions leading up to the sale. She also agreed to participate in the project governance where she will review deliverables during planning and rollout and ensure that they are as promised. She will then present the project progress and future path to the client along with the project leader.

While committing fixed hours in a week for this work, she will continue to be part of her current pre-sales organization, also working on bids and new pursuits.

At the time of writing this, two platform modules have been delivered and the third is in planning. There were issues integrating the second module and Shirley’s relationship with the client helped smooth out the process of change management.

Shirley, in turn is seeing what she promised now being delivered. She is experiencing the lifecycle of a pursuit from sales strategy through deal signing and now the actual project delivery. Recognizes that her work experience & skills are richer now and will contribute to greater success in the future.


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