The vital importance of a positive company culture
Guro McCrea. Image: New Relic

The vital importance of a positive company culture

9 Jul 20191.8k Views

Guro McCrea is the senior director of EMEA solution engineering at New Relic. Here, she explains how her career has taught her the incredible importance of a positive company culture.

When Guro McCrea was first starting out in the world of work, she chose a company because she liked the people. “Back then, I thought it was a silly reason,” she said.

Little did she know that as she rapidly advanced in her career, eventually ending up at New Relic as the senior director of EMEA solution engineering, the importance of being in a company with a positive company culture would only become more clear.

McCrea explains here how she got to where she is today, what she has learned and what she enjoys about the culture at New Relic.

What led you to the role you now have?

I studied European business with Spanish, which meant that I studied in Ireland two years and in Madrid two years, and ended up with a degree from both universities. Very efficient! I specialised in management, because I always knew I wanted to work with people and I had been told that I was a natural leader.

After university, I was lucky enough to have a straight and fast career progression. I had learned from a professor of mine that I should take a job for a growing company in a growing industry. I took his advice and joined a fast-growing company as a technical support and maintenance renewals sales rep.

From there, I grew quickly into management, moved from sales to product design and then to professional services, and then back to sales and now finally technical solution sales.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path?

I always knew culture was important, but I did not know how important until I found myself in the wrong culture. Getting along with the people you work with and feeling like you can be yourself around them is extremely valuable. When I finally left the team that had the wrong culture for me, it was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.

It made me realise how right I had been when I took my first job mainly because I liked the people. Back then I thought it was a silly reason, but in fact it was accidentally very wise.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

A few people have influenced my career development. There is perhaps one that stands out more than others though: James Taylor. James gave me a job as a project manager even though I had no experience in project management. From there, I was allowed to grow into lots of different jobs as James’s solutions and professional services organisation grew.

James was a fantastic visionary. He would paint a vision of where we wanted to go, and then leave it to us to figure out how. As a result, we were almost allowed to create our own roles based on our strengths and interests, and this allowed me to grow my career and also figure out what I liked and what I was good at.

What do you enjoy about your job?

So many things. But I will try to distil it into three main aspects:

First, the culture. A few weeks after I had joined New Relic, I had a sudden realisation. Whenever I spoke to people about colleagues that weren’t there, they would speak positively about them. “Did you meet so and so yet? They are really good at X.” This is a great sign of a culture that is innovative and collaborative and not siloed,. The right culture for me.

Second, the opportunities. Once again, I am at a growing company in a growing industry, and this presents a lot of opportunities. On the flip side, it means that there are lots of non-defined processes and sometimes it’s all hands on deck in order to solve a problem. However, I quite like this type of environment and all of the opportunities to grow as we as a company grows.

Third, the customers. I have spent a lot of time meeting with customers since I joined New Relic. Generally, the customers are engaged and they see us as a partner as opposed to just a vendor. I love working with customers on their business value and strategy, and our customers really welcome this type of collaboration.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I like solving problems and I like patterns, repeatability and efficiency.

My job in this fast-growing company means that we need to be creative, work with customers to help grow their businesses, and figure out the right solutions for the right situations.

When we do this, I like looking at what we have done to determine what we can reuse and figure out how we could do this even more efficiently and effectively next time.

How did New Relic support you on your career path?

I am only six months with New Relic and already we are talking about my career development. I have a few mentors and I am talking to my manager about the right coaching and courses that I should do. I am very excited about the future of my career here at New Relic!

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Number one: be open minded. I never saw myself as a techie, and yet I have had an amazing career in tech and I love working in this area. I have worked with people that studied history, politics, literature and business. Just because you didn’t study computer science does not mean you cannot have a fantastic career in tech.

Two: always look for improvements. I have climbed the career ladder very quickly. Partially because I have been lucky, but also because I have a tendency to look for areas that need improvement and then do something about it. As an example from the early days of my career, we used to spend a lot of time cleaning raw data in order to calculate certain KPIs on a weekly basis. I figured out which of these steps were the same every time, created a macro in Excel and reduced the process down to 10 minutes from about an hour. By doing this and rolling it out to all the users, I not only improved a process but I also got visibility from leadership, which served well when I was going for promotions later.

And number three: show passion! When I am interviewing for positions on my team, I am willing to overlook lack of experience if I meet a candidate that is truly passionate and interested in what we do. Experience will come with time but determination, agility and creativity only come from truly passionate people.

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