Maggie Thornton, Product Development
Vendor Relationship Builder, National Alliance Manager, Dell Canada
Maggie works closely with outside companies to help Dell strengthen its product line from computer apps to notebook bags.
“I went to Brazil to help our Latin American partners learn from what we do in Canada,” Maggie says. Dell shares training, recruitment, mentoring, development, advancement and culture change techniques with its business partners around the world. “That experience amazed me!” she says.
Maggie mashes her marketing background with technology. At Dell she works mostly in vendor relationships. She interacts with manufacturers and builds contacts to improve customer solutions. ‘Solutions’ is a term that means finding the best outcome to a tech-based business problem. For example, say you want to buy a laptop, a case, and specialized hardware. Maggie has built relationships with wholesalers so Dell can send you everything in one package. The laptop bag actually came from Targus and the software from another tech company.
Maggie visits customers alongside Dell account executives (such as Kael Buck) and lets them know about the extensive solutions Dell can provide thanks to its many relationships with manufacturers. With a background in tech solutions, she has a good understanding of what businesses need.
A day in the life
Maggie is in constant touch with suppliers and customers, so she travels across Canada and to Dell’s head office in Texas to meet with people. She works with new vendors to figure out how they can promote themselves to Dell’s sales force and customers. She leads meetings and expos to train Dell sales teams on how the latest partner products can help customers achieve their goals. Dell customers include consumers, small businesses, public and large enterprises, so she needs a wide variety of constantly changing solutions. Maggie and her team also organize events and contests
Maggie takes advantage of Dell’s paid time off to volunteer on the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Why this job rocks
“Part of why I can’t explain my job easily is why I love it – I do so many different things and leverage so much of my past experience every day. I get involved in North American and global projects,” Maggie says.
Maggie’s job is super-diverse and she loves not having to sit in front of a computer all day. She takes advantage of Dell’s flexibility program by working from home two days a week. “If it’s your kid’s first day of kindergarten, Dell doesn’t want you to miss that. They expect us to work hard, but we get payback in those little ways,” she says.
- Maggie studied marketing at Seneca College.
- She was a marketing coordinator for several tech companies. To better understand what makes the business tick, she moved into sales and started to meet customers. She then moved into product management at Sony, where she handled product marketing for numerous projects.
- Since arriving at Dell, she mashed these experiences together into what she does today.
Maggie’s department is called an “overlay”: it deals with many different parts of the company all the time. “Some of the challenges come from knowing their core focus, where can I jump in and be of assistance, and how do I get their attention for what I need to do? Dell is a big organization with a global structure. How can I support everybody in the company?”
She gets asked a lot of questions and as a result has to know a little bit about everything. “Some days I would love to be a specialist and have one thing to focus on one thing and know it really well. Other times I love the variety,” she says.
Tips for Success
- See the big picture: “I recommend getting sales experience, Then you have a foundation to work in a job like mine.”
- Explore co-op: If you’re going to college or university and there is an opportunity to do a coop program, Maggie strongly advocates seizing it. “You get a lot of experience and you can better decide what you want to be when you grow up,” she says.
- Stay involved: Maggie regrets not being more involved in student and alumni organizations. “I would have gotten more involved in hindsight,” she says.
- Continue - don’t stop - taking courses. “We do a lot of training internally. I always go to them. You need to make time for social networking and marketing training,” she says. Maggie recommended programs like Toastmasters. “Whether it’s online or in person, your education should never stop.”