While we’re traveling around the country by RV, I’m working remotely, about ten hours a week, for the company for which I worked full-time before I left.
The ability to work remotely part-time has been a real privilege. Not only does the work bring in some money to cover the burn, but also it helps me soften the landing when it’s time to return home and return to work.
It can be a challenge to exit and enter the workforce for an adventure without damaging relationships and career. As part of my pondering on how to lead a modern life of adventure, I’ve been struggling to nail down the dos and don’ts of bouncing from the workforce to embark on an adventure and then afterwards returning to the workforce.
For now, I figured I could share my own story about how I left my job and managed to turn it into a part-time job suitable for my nomadic lifestyle, which might help others see a path towards their own adventure travel arrangement.
This topic will take two posts.
In this first post, I’ll explain what my job looked like before the adventure.
In the next post, I’ll share how I redefined my job to be part-time and remote and worked with my boss and colleagues to transition to a working life on the road.
No one knows what it is I do for a living
Most of my friends and family don’t know what it is I did for a living before we left, due in large part to the fact that I never spent much time to explain it.
My family knows I do something with the web.
Some of my friends know I’m in IT, while others know I’m in digital marketing.
It’s not a secret what I do, but it’s a little complex and I play in a pretty narrow niche, so explaining it to someone without industry context just takes too long.
A lot of IT professionals read this blog, and I’m sure they understand the dilemma when someone asks, “What do you do?”
Katie gets it. I’ve heard her ask someone, “Are you just asking what I do or do you really want to know what I do? Because there is the short version or the long version.”
So when posed with the question about my job by folks outside of IT and digital marketing, I generalize the response. As a result, most people only have a vague idea of what it is I do.
In what industry do I work?
I thought it would be fun to actually tell my family, old friends, and new friends, like you, what I do with some industry context.
I work in a rapidly evolving field called Digital Experience Management, and I primarily work with large organizations with a national or global brand and business footprint.
In the most basic sense, I would describe Digital Experience Management as the practice to create a positive user experience across digital devices in order to drive some desired outcome for the business (i.e. a sale, loyalty, customer self-service).
Through Digital Experience Management, marketers strive to create a great user experience for their brand. They want great user interface design across mobile, tablet and desktop devices, personalized content to make users around the globe feel known and unique, the ability to drive business outcomes through campaigns, accurate data to make better marketing decisions and measure results, and the tools to manage production for a global marketing team.
How are marketers going to do all of this?
To realize all of their dreams for great user experience, content, and data, marketers at global organizations require numerous, integrated software applications, such as content management systems to produce, manage, and display personalized web content, analytics software to collect user data, and marketing automation tools for powering campaigns.
On top of the marketing software, marketers also need to integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software like Salesforce.com, search tools to power site search and navigation, and a host of other internal applications that may store customer data or product content or tie into some backend process.
Marketing technology can get really complex really quickly, especially when you are dealing with the marketing goals and strategy for a global organization with a million monthly users representing 80 countries speaking 9 different languages using a wide range of devices to locate one webpage on a 100,000 page website.
The solution to all of this is really challenging. The solution is made more difficult when marketers don’t know or care much about technology, and technologists don’t know or care much about marketing. It’s made infinitely more difficult within big organizations when marketing and IT flat out don’t like each other, which often happens.
So what do I do?
Here’s where the company for which I work comes in. We bridge the gap between IT and marketing to help an organization define its Web Experience Management strategy.
Once we have helped a client define their strategy, we design a new user experience for the company’s digital presence. This is a long creative process that involves a lot of discovery, digital strategy, iterations, and testing, but simply you could say we redesign their website.
We also often implement or overhaul an enterprise content management system (CMS) to power the new site, integrating the CMS with various other marketing tools and systems so that marketers can launch their shiny new website and realize all of their marketing hopes and dreams. You could really simplify the effort and say that we develop their website.
Through a series of misadventures in marketing and technology in my past, I happen to be quite comfortable in the tumultuous middle ground between IT and marketing.
My job was to find, pitch, and win new clients, which often meant winning the hearts and minds of decision makers and stakeholders on both the marketing and IT sides of the house. This was my favorite part of the job, as I enjoyed the roller coaster ride that comes with winning new business.
In the other major part of my job, I was responsible for overseeing the technology and creative teams on some of our bigger projects. The project team would have a creative director, technical architect, project manager and various designers and developers overseeing and doing the real work, but I oversaw all of them to ensure that our efforts and the client’s goals were aligned.
And at last, I also had the great honor to be on the company’s executive team. Though I was the youngest and had the least amount of executive responsibility, I helped guide the company’s strategic decisions and direction.
Redefining my role for life on the road
So that’s what I did, but it’s not what I do anymore. I left that job behind, though I didn’t leave the company.
In a follow up post, I’ll discuss how I was able to change and scale back my responsibilities so that I could have a part-time job on the road while still providing value to the company.
Still have questions about what I do? Feel free to ask away in the comments.