Tommy Taylor graduated from Sprott’s Bachelor of Commerce program with a concentration in International Business in 2013. Throughout his time at Carleton, Tommy was involved in many extracurricular activities including JDC Central, Sprott Business Students’ Society and was a Sprosh week team leader. Tommy has combined his educational background in International Business and his love of travel in the technology and sales industry. He currently works at Sana Commerce as the Manager of Sales Operations in the Rotterdam area of Netherlands.
Why did you choose Sprott?
Growing up in the Toronto region, my initial criteria was any school not in Toronto. I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and experience life in a new city. As my criteria widened, it became clear that Sprott was the place for me. The school was going through changes and a lot of investment was being made to elevate Sprott’s reputation. I knew this meant that there was the potential for a lot of “firsts” and I could play a role in defining the Sprott culture (first delegation to a competition, first “Sprosh”, first Sprott-hosted competition, etc.). In addition, Ottawa is a fun city for university students with a large student population and plenty of entertainment options.
What path did you follow after Sprott?
I like to say that I stumbled upon technology and sales, and I am glad that I did. Following graduation, I wanted to stay in Ottawa with a private sector company with international exposure. This lead me to the tech companies in Kanata where I accepted a role as an Inside Sales Rep for Halogen Software after having never considered software or sales in my career ambitions previously. The role gave me a foot in the door with a high growth company where you quickly learned being successful in your current role could quickly allow you to move into higher roles that you more desired; which is exactly what happened. Within six months, I was offered and accepted a sales operations role supporting a global team where any day could begin with a phone call to London and end with a phone call to Sydney. What I wanted to come next was a job that allowed me to move abroad.
That happened two years later as through my LinkedIn network, I was introduced to San Francisco-based DoubleDutch that was looking for a Sales Operations role in their Amsterdam office. I quickly took notice of the role, having experience in Sales Operations and Amsterdam being my number one choice of cities to move to. The interview process was a little surreal, particularly being flown to San Francisco to meet with the CEO, and before you knew it I was back in San Francisco for two weeks of training before going to Amsterdam; a city I had never been to in my life.
I started my role at DoubleDutch thinking I had the knowledge and experience to bring a lot to the company, but I quickly realized what makes Silicon Valley so difficult to compete with. The amount of knowledge in the room was mind-blowing and things had a way of getting done quickly. I considered the next two years to be a Silicon Valley bootcamp where the company took risks through a lot of strategy changes and was disruptive initiatives. Regardless of whether decisions made resulted in success, you were able to learn a tremendous amount about the industry along the way.
I am now on to my next challenge having started at a Dutch company called Sana Commerce. They have hired me with a mandate to implement Silicon Valley sales methodologies to allow the company to scale and achieve predictable revenue. I am very excited to gain experience from a company with a European perspective.
A standout memory or game-changing experience from your time at Sprott?
There are so many stand-out memories to choose from, but I would select when I was a part of the delegation to the 2009 Happening Marketing competition in Montreal as being the one that stood out the most. As I said what I enjoyed so much about Sprott was being able to be a part of the growth of the school and Happening Marketing was certainly one of the big steps that we took. It was the first time that Sprott had participated in that competition and we did not know what to expect. I was on the Social team with three others and the language barrier proved to be quite an issue for us. Whether it was trying to act out a skit with a mere 10 seconds of translated direction to showing up to an evening event inappropriately dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we did the best with what we had.
Biggest take away from Sprott?
Think big. Perhaps it was my studies in International Business and being able to study alongside people from all over the world, but Sprott taught me how to think big as global markets do exist. I enjoyed the courses that taught you how to develop international entry strategies. I remember in one of my courses, my group chose to work with a small Ottawa start-up that was focused on providing clean water sewage systems to residential developments in countries around the world. We developed an entry strategy for an apparent market opportunity in Brazil and the company decided to execute on our strategy as a result of our project. Although we did not set out to be consultants for the company, we certainly felt that’s what we accomplished at the end.
Advice you would give future Sprott students?
My advice would be to put yourself out there throughout your entire time at Sprott. I went through school at a tough time in the economy where jobs were difficult to secure post-graduation and the market was very competitive. It was the leadership opportunities I had with SBSS and JDCC as well as the professional internships I held that set me apart when I was competing for that first role in my career.
Additionally, take every chance you get to network with the Ottawa business community and Sprott Alumni. Taking a genuine interest in what people do and what they enjoy about their jobs will help you to get an idea of what you want to do. Without a sense of direction (and believe me I was guilty of this) it is difficult to find a job and it is even more difficult for others to help you find a job. When the opportunities do arise, do not fear if you are making the right or the wrong choice as you will be amazed on how your direction can and will change as you find your way in your career.
Other anecdotes or reflections to share.
Thanks to all the classmates I worked with in various roles. It is very interesting to see our alumni network build as we are all successful in different ways. Thanks to all the very knowledgeable professors, especially the ones that were willing to occasionally go on tangents on their professional experiences and how the business world worked. A special thanks to my friends at the Business Career Management Centre (BCMC). I recall having an appointment with them to review what I thought was my well groomed cover letter/resume for them to rip it apart (for the better). It worked though as I wasn’t in the job search for long after that day.