A Q&A with Scott Sullivan, Davanti’s Southern Digital Practice Lead
30th March 2021
Author Scott Sullivan
We catch up with Scott Sullivan, Davanti’s Southern Digital Practice Lead to find out about his role and his mission in life.
Tell us about your role with Davanti.
As Davanti’s Southern Digital Practice Lead, I run our Digital practice in Wellington focused on Salesforce, and am responsible for ensuring that we’re delivering for our customers, and helping bring them closer to their customers.
My role is about living in the past, the present and the future simultaneously.
I look at what we can learn from the past (the projects we’ve delivered and the lessons we’ve learned along the way), what we can do in the present to be our best and help our customers get closer to their customers (whether that’s sales activities, the projects that the team are delivering and the conversations we’re having with our clients to understand their needs). And then there’s the future, looking at what’s coming next in terms of our client needs, Salesforce capabilities, the outcomes we need to deliver for them, and what we need to do from a people perspective to make sure we have the right people and capability to meet those needs.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I fell into CRM and consulting a bit by accident. Accenture (Andersen Consulting at the time) was recruiting at my university in Northern California and one of the university alumni was senior in the CRM practice at Accenture in San Francisco. I got a job offer to join them and I thought, Why not?
At the time, I didn’t know what CRM really was and I didn’t know a lot about consulting – I jumped in and found out that I really loved it, the constant problem solving and the challenges it continually brings – so much so that I’ve been in the CRM space, both from a consulting perspective and the client side, ever since.
What’s your mission in life? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I really get excited about being supportive and collaborative with customers and our people, and helping them reach their goals, whether those are goals around projects or learning and growing their careers. I often feel like I should have been a teacher or a coach and find that the support those types of jobs provide in enabling people to learn, do their best and reach their goals really aligns with what I enjoy.
We had six new people join my Wellington team in February, including three recent graduates. Some are new to consulting and Salesforce as well, so there’s a lot of energy in the office right now!
Even though our most recent graduates just started in February, we are already planning our activities for our 2022 graduates and kick things off at Vic Uni in May.
Our new starters in February, from left to right: Nikisha Goundar (Graduate Consultant), Georgia Limacher (Graduate Consultant), Chris Ritchie (Manager), Mahalia Mills (Senior Consultant), Shaun Sinclair (Graduate Consultant) and Rejoy James (Senior Consultant).
What do you love most about your role?
It really comes down to two things.
One is achieving project outcomes. Even when I’ve been in internal roles on the client side, I’ve always been project and outcome focused. I love the focused energy of a project team, whether you’re the client or a consultant, seeing your goals come to life and then seeing the product, or system that has been created, and how people use it and the benefits it brings them. I enjoy getting to this point with our clients and our team, and looking back at the journey once you have gone live.
The other thing I love most about my role is the variety. I have days, especially here in Wellington, where I might have three or four different client meetings in different buildings, some public sector clients, some commercial, each with different members of my team. You definitely get a lot of variety in terms of the customers you’re talking to, the problems you are trying to solve and the people you work with to make it happen.
What brought you to Davanti?
My family and I moved to New Zealand just over two years ago. My wife and I travelled to New Zealand 16 or so years ago and when we got back to San Francisco we started thinking about how we could move here. We looked at jobs off and on, but life gets busy and it goes on the backburner for a while. I finally got connected to Davanti in mid-2018 and after a few conversations discussing the opportunity, I knew it was a fit. My wife and I looked at each other and said, You know, why not?
Looking to 2021 and the year ahead, what’s the one thing you’re thinking about and focusing on that will help Davanti customers get closer to their customers?
The thing that I’m thinking about and clients are talking to us most about right now is the shift that has happened since COVID. In the pre-COVID world, there was a lot of focus and work on convincing people of the benefits and need to go digital. Now, here in New Zealand and around the world, the demand for digital within organisations is almost unlimited.
I think the biggest challenge for us and for our customers – and what I’m thinking about as we move forward – is: How do we help our customers rationalise those demands and build a roadmap that makes sense? How do we help them get the value they need both now and long term?
Now it’s not about convincing a business to go digital; it’s about figuring out what the right path to digital is and where to start, given everybody wants – and needs – to go there, and fast.
What’s the one thing customers are thinking about and focusing on right now when it comes to transforming the customer experience?
I think it depends on where the customer is on that journey.
For customers starting on that journey, it very much ties back to the last question and helping them determine the right way to start their digital transformation and helping them rationalise their demands and roadmap.
For some of the more mature customers that have been on their Salesforce journey for a while, they are thinking about what that next step is, particularly around the newer and more advanced Salesforce capabilities. In Wellington we’re seeing organisations putting increased energy into communication, self-service automation and analytics to better understand, serve and ultimately connect with their customers or citizens.
When you’re not busy helping our clients get closer to their customers, what do you like to do with your time?
I have three children, so their schedules dictate a lot of what I do in my free time! I’m currently coaching one of their baseball teams, which keeps me busy three days a week, and then all the sports and activities I don’t coach take another big chunk of time.
Outside of the kids’ schedules, my wife and I enjoy exploring New Zealand wines and the dining variety Wellington has to offer. We love travelling, and with international travel closed, we have spent the last year exploring the Wellington region and other parts of the country.
What are you reading at the moment? sources of inspiration, favorite, favorite quote or mantra to live by right now.
At about eight o’clock at night I read A Most Peculiar Toy Factory with my nine-year-old – which is highly recommended if you’re in that age bracket.
For myself, we had a training session a few weeks back that was focused on mentoring and how to effectively ask for and give feedback. A theme that ran through the session was focusing on people’s strengths and looking to maximise them over addressing their weaknesses. It reminded me of Now, Discover Your Strengths, a book I hadn’t picked up in years, so I dusted it off from the bookshelf to give it another read, and it definitely still resonated.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love those moments where everything feels like it is clicking and coming together – essentially the stars aligning. I find those small moments every day, whether at work or personally, where things fall into place for a moment or two.
Any favorite quotes or mantras you live by right now?
There’s one that a boss of mine back in San Francisco told me. I used to walk out of meetings with him and he would essentially be saying no to people, but everyone still thanked him for his help.
I talked to him about how he did that, and he told me that his goal is not to tell people no; it’s to find and suggest how he can help them. At the end of the day he told me, he still might not be able to help them with exactly what they need, but he’s coming from a positive place and thinking about how he can support them get closer to their goal. That’s something I try to do, both professionally and personally.