There are many different job positions within Nuxeo, but one of the most interesting might be the one Mike Obrebski has. He spends much of his time working with prospective clients, combining his knowledge of the Nuxeo Platform and a desire to help prospects understand how it can help them build great applications.
Q: Can you tell us your position with Nuxeo?
MO: I am a Pre Sales Engineer/Technical Consultant. I work with prospects to ensure they have everything they need to evaluate and make a purchase decision - the support contract, the Studio subscription, all that we offer. I am there to answer their questions and show them the benefits of the product, guide them through the entire process.
Also, I have been doing some things after the sale too. Sometimes you develop a relationship with a prospect before they purchase and it extends post sale - you already know their project and environment, so it’s more convenient.
I help produce webinars for Nuxeo, too, and have been asked to do some specific additions to the product (like the EasyShare project).
Q: Are you a developer?
MO: I can code and program (I have developed in the past), but it’s not my primary responsibility. Sometimes I will do a small project, something small (or specific enough) for a customer, or for internal use.
I think that’s required of Pre Sales engineers - somebody who knows the platform and can do some development. You are familiar enough with it to explain how things work and how things need to be done.
Q: Why did you want to work at Nuxeo?
MO: I have been with Nuxeo since December of 2013. My previous company had reporting software/BI products. I did Pre Sales there as well, similar to what I do here. I wanted to change my environment though, move out of the area (this was in Washington, DC). Then I did some consulting for a small company for a few months.
I found the Nuxeo position through the LinkedIn job listings. I was looking at places in New York and the technology attracted me. I wanted to move into something a little more complex, new, more modern. My previous company sold a commercial product. To get a little more of my technical knowledge involved versus just showing things, I wanted to get into something more hands on. The fact that the Nuxeo Platform is built with modern technology and Nuxeo is a growing company, those were the things that attracted me.
I interviewed with Eric (CEO) first, then Brendan (GM), then Thierry (CTO) - all over the phone. They seemed confident with their decision to hire me pretty quickly.
Q: How does one train to be a Pre Sales Engineer?
MO: That’s a good question, I don’t think you can “train” to be good at this position. I think people come at it from different directions. Initially, I was doing a computer science degree at university focused on development/programming. I think it’s important to have a wide background of technical abilities, that’s the best way to get into Pre Sales. It depends on the company too - some are more focused on the technical aspects, others on sales.
I wanted to deal more with the sales process, with customers directly on shorter term projects, not be in the back programming all day. I knew that I wanted to do more consulting, see how the customer is implementing what I am working on and get the satisfaction of seeing that what I am doing is impacting the customer’s business. Also, I like to be more sociable. When you are a developer working on code, it’s not always the most social job.
The training is a combination of personality and background. You need to have a wide range of abilities because you often deal with a lot of different situations and technologies. You need to able to understand different things, but you also need to be sociable and in tune with how sales really works. You have to persuade as well as explain clearly, get people excited about what you are doing. You need to be able explain complex things in a simple, understandable way.
Q: You are assigned to new client, what’s the first thing you do?
MO: If we have a prospect, Brendan will talk to them, try to understand what they want to achieve. He’ll qualify them and decide it they are a good fit for our platform. Once he does that, I will often do a demo, maybe show some sample applications to demonstrate the functionality of the platform.
I also answer specific questions. Because the platform is open source vs commercial, customers can start using it without talking to us. A lot of times they try it out and we talk to them about more specific things. We provide support, consulting, tools to make that process easier for them. I might help them with specific problems, and it often turns into a parallel process with me trying to make sure they are satisfied with what they are doing. My job is to make sure they are confident in their decision - perform demos, answer questions, little POCs based on what they are trying to achieve. We are trying to cut down on the time they need to learn everything. We want them to understand it so they can make a decision, but the actual training and implementation is generally part of the consulting services.
I usually work with multiple prospects. And I’m not constantly working on one thing all day. Sometimes a question comes in and I need to get the answers, create some sort of presentation or POC and then maybe they’ll come back later for something else. When it’s slower, I work on webinars and other things. The workday varies.
Q: Do you enjoy doing the webinars?
MO: I do. It allows me to show the more interesting parts of the Nuxeo Platform. A lot of times it’s creating something with the platform that’s interesting. It’s fun and applicable to a wider audience.
Q: What are some of the more interesting parts to you?
MO: There are so many things. So far I’m focused on building more functionality on top of the Nuxeo Platform. I did one webinar on Mule (an enterprise service bus), showing how the platform can connect to apps like Twitter and Salesforce.com.
I’m doing another one on EasyShare, an app that allows you share files anonymously from the Nuxeo Platform. Let’s say you wanted to send someone a large file. You can share it directly from our Intranet (which is built on the Nuxeo Platform) by sending a specific URL.
That was a learning project for me, I started it just after I joined. I had to learn Studio, learn to write extensions (so I was writing code). It gave me a good breadth of experience with the platform and I made something useful for internal use. It’s the first version, so we’re using it internally and will maybe add some additional functionality.
Q: Are you active in the Nuxeo Community?
MO: I have written some blog posts on different topics. What I write depends on what’s needed at the time. A lot of times the ideas come from Brendan who is dealing with customers and prospects, and knows what people are asking about, or may not have enough information about.
Q: Web development has changed a lot over the past few years - what do you see as some of the more important technologies to watch and be aware of?
People want things to be easy. When they are writing an application they don’t want to have to do everything - the whole backend, the hardware required. There are a lot of tools and services that allow people to focus on the application, the business logic. We need to make sure we’re always providing that - making it easier for people to configure and have an application ready to go. I think we’re doing that with all the tools we provide - like Studio, a web-based tool which allows you to build an app in Nuxeo without having to code at all.
Q: What kind of things do you do when you aren’t working?
MO: Since I’ve move to New York I have been enjoying the city - the food, the entertainment. I haven’t missed having a car, which was very surprising because I really enjoyed driving. So I guess New York holds a lot of the stimulation I crave. I wanted to come to NY because I wanted to live in the city and I’m really enjoying it.
I was born in Poland, but started school here when I was four. I’ve been there a few times throughout my life. There’s a big Polish community in Brooklyn called Greenpoint. I like to go there sometimes, speak Polish and eat Polish food. You can spend all day there without speaking English.
I also like outdoor activities. I feel like you need to have quiet vacations, which is important to me. Normally I live a very active life, so it’s nice to have a vacation away from cities and noise - like hiking, skiing, travelling/visiting friends.