Bill Thomson spent years as a software marketing consultant, but the recession sent him looking for a full-time job.
Bill Thomson knows that almost no industry is shielded from recession, even one as vital and resilient as software development. And when you’re a consultant, your position may be among the most exposed.
The software developer turned marketer was a management consultant at an Atlanta-based heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractor, but work dried up when new business began to slow and several clients put projects on hold.
Thus, after years of freelance work, Thomson found himself trying to find a full-time job in software just as software jobs became hard to find. Not surprisingly, he was worried.
His goal: a permanent job in marketing that drew upon his years as a software coder. Optimally, that company would be in a relatively stable market and large enough to withstand the pressures of an economic downturn. And on the personal front, he needed to find something near his home in Pompano Beach, Fla., where his daughter is still finishing high school.
Thomson had moved from software coding to software product marketing in the mid-1990s after seeing too many great products developed with no business or sales plan in mind.
Via SalesLadder, Thomson was contacted by ASG Software Solutions of Naples, Fla., where he is now vice president of solutions management. ASG builds software products and services to help businesses manage information and operations.
ASG seems a perfect fit for Thomson. He is able to apply both his product-marketing experience and software savvy. The location, directly across the Florida panhandle, allows him to keep his family home while he commutes or borrows his in-laws’ part-time home in Naples. He likes ASG’s size – 1,300 employees – and its strong position with Fortune 5,000 customers, as well as a growing international business fueled by strategic acquisitions. “I have worked for larger companies and smaller companies, and the mid-size [firm] seems to be a really good fit for what I can contribute.”
Thomson said ASG is focusing marketing and operations on customers in a variety of verticals, with help from a substantial direct-sales force. “Many times we need to understand the company’s issues, and the company’s application of technology and the specific problems that industry might have.” Thus, he recommended that anyone interested in moving into sales or marketing of software solutions seek out a company that is looking to branch into vertical industries: “There is a great opportunity to try to make that transition.”
Thomson, a graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers, learned the business of technology early in his career. With an undergraduate degree in computer science, Thomson began developing compilers, operating systems and data-communications software. But “while many of my peers were getting more and more into the details of the systems they were developing, I found myself trying more and more to understand why I was building what I was building.”
He soon found himself getting increasingly frustrated with managers on the front end of the process who instructed him to develop products that failed to sell successfully. The business side of technology intrigued Thomson and so he crossed over to the business side and focused on product management and marketing. “And I have pretty much stuck with that ever since then. I find a general-management kind of role very suitable to my personality: I like thinking strategically and implementing tactically. I like the technology but also understand the implications on the business. I like the various dimensions of the job and essentially taking technology and applying it to real business problems to help them add value.”