ICF Olson: The Interviews

A monthly series of conversations with our experts

Today's interview is with Molly McDaniel, a Senior Account Manager for our Managed Services team within Olson Digital.  Molly, thanks for sitting down with me today.

Of course.

So, let's start with the basics.  How long have you been with ICF Olson?

It's been a little more than five years.  I just recently got my five year anniversary plaque and it says, "Congratulations Mary McDaniel", which is my given name, but I don't use it.  

Molly photo

You're also a Sr. Account Manager for our Managed Services Team; Tell me what a typical week is like for you, who you work with, what your goals are.

I work with our technical team and I also work directly with our clients, offering solutions, talking through decisions and changes they want made, new services, and more. I've recently been guiding the direction of managed services for our clients, as well.  We have been shifting as a whole organization, to think larger, more strategically about our clients and their businesses, so I've been having those conversations about what their business goals are, what problem they're trying to solve, how that relates to the other areas of their business, things like that.  As technology partners, we are wired to go in and solve the problem at hand, but it's been easy for the managed services team to have those longer, strategic conversations with clients because we do such close work with them already.  We are in constant contact and really view ourselves as partners, so we are ready for tough conversations.

What are your thoughts on the cloud? Are there things you wish people understood more readily?

I was not in the technology space at my previous company, so my experience in tech here has always been cloud.  So maybe I'm biased.  Years ago, in one of my first meetings with a client, we had full days of meetings trying to plan out the client's hardware buy that would work for them today and for the next three years.  It was a very large capital expenditure for the company, taking hours of deliberation, and I was sitting there thinking, "Why aren't you on the cloud?!"  All that time and a portion of that money could be saved by moving to the cloud.  AWS or Azure can scale for your needs with little notice, today or three years from now, without having to buy all new hardware.  It was eye-opening.

The top concern I hear about moving to the cloud is security.  I think those fears have been negated by the many financial and government services that have moved to the cloud.  These security-critical companies are doing it - it's safe.  Cost is another factor, too, if you've spent all your money on hardware, but there are economical solutions for the cloud, too.

Our main 'method' is transparency

How do you 'read' your clients and discover what they're really looking for from you?  Do you have a method?

I touched on this before, we have really great relationships with our clients, some that we've been working with for many years, so we already have that openness where they can come to us easily with questions or issues they have.  We're valued partners and clients will come back to us for recommendations or work on other projects.  Our main 'method' is transparency. Breaking down any walls between us and the client is the best way for us to provide the most value.

Are there other areas of ICF Olson you'd like to work with more?

Well, we do a lot of work across divisions of ICF Olson.  We host Tally, our loyalty platform, we host websites and offer application support to all areas and clients of ICF Olson, so I can't say we're neglecting anyone.  We've been working together to standardize on services and processes we use.  It's been really great to come together organically to access best practices from other areas and choose what we can incorporate into our own strategy.

Are you as tech savvy outside of work?

I am not.  When I leave work I don't want to see another screen for a while.  But my friends don't work in technology, so I'm often the savvy one in the group, helping clear caches and whatnot.

What is your favorite desktop web experience and what's your favorite mobile site or app?

I keep my phone very minimal.  If I don't use an app weekly, it gets dumped.  I use OpenTable a lot, to make reservations and find out what the hot spots are.  I don't spend a lot of time outside of work online, so I don't have a favorite website, but I do listen to a lot of podcasts.  Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorites.

Lastly, before we wrap up, how do you spend your time away from Managed Services?

I like to take advantage of the city when it's nice out.  I like to eat out, too, but I lean toward chicken fingers and pizza, so I let my friends pick where we go.  Or I use my beloved OpenTable app.