When Smartly.io opened its first overseas office in San Francisco last fall, Miikka was one of the first Smartlies to start working on opening North and Latin American markets for the company. We sat down for lunch and a chat in Hayes Valley, and Miikka shared his story — a story that rather perfectly illustrates how quickly you get responsibility and how fast you can grow at Smartly.io.
Miikka joined the company about a year ago as a 24-year-old Industrial Engineering and Management master's student, with a heart beating for tech and code, and a wish to learn sales and marketing. Before joining Smartly.io, he worked as a developer and Scrum Master for a small company for two years alongside studies.
“There I realized that in smaller, agile teams, you have less bureaucracy and overhead, and you get more responsibility. Once I started eyeing other opportunities, I was determined to find a place where I could develop quickly through fast execution and challenging projects.”
At Smartly.io, he got what he was searching for. “Joining Smartly.io was a smart decision for three main reasons. One — it opened the door to frequent business travels to San Francisco and it got me out of my comfort zone. And let’s face it, that’s where learning starts. Smartly.io has given me more responsibility and experience than what I would’ve gotten in many other companies and work environments I considered during my undergrad.
Two — I’m constantly surrounded by amazingly smart coworkers, and something brushes off on me inevitably. And three — even though the whole team is working their butts off every day, to me it doesn’t really feel like work. More like we’re playing a multiplayer game and we get paid for it.”
There’s exactly as much responsibility as you dare to take on
Miikka works as a Technical Account Manager, which he sees as the perfect fit for a in-betweener like himself. “I’ve studied Software Engineering as my minor, but I’ve never seen myself as a full-fledged programmer. On the other hand, I don’t really see myself as a super suave salesman either — not yet at least.”
As a Technical Account Manager, he’s working at the interface between customers and engineers, and his tasks range from sales to managing customer relationships and all the way to contributing to the product development. “At Smartly.io, we develop the Smartly.io tool in very close cooperation with customers. This means that the tight feedback loop from customers to the development team is essential to our success, and maintaining it is one of the top priorities for all our Account Managers.”
“Already during my first weeks, I was given my own customer cases and I was having calls with them. I was excited and very pleased to notice how open-mindedly a fresh recruit like me was given responsibility and freedom. I was thrown into the deep end and everyone trusted me to swim as well as any other Smartlie — but by no means did the responsibility stop there.” After a ramp-up period at the HQ in Helsinki, Miikka got the opportunity to join the US team and build the Smartly.io business from scratch in the American markets.
Since then, the Smartly.io team dedicated to helping customers in the US has kept on growing, and we’ve opened another US-based office in New York. Of course, growth is never just about the company, it’s also about the people in the company growing and developing, people like Miikka.
“Personally, I’ve grown from a rookie to a Facebook advertising professional, accumulating other skills along the way. One of my most challenging projects so far was when I was doing product management in developing a whole new feature, which restructured Smartly.io’s implementation of Facebook’s Dynamic Ads and introduced Dynamic Ads for Travel as a new ad format.
I worked together with our case customer, development team and product managers to develop and implement the new features, and I was responsible for making sure that information and feedback flowed smoothly between the dev team and the customers.”
There’s always more to learn
During his one year at Smartly.io, Miikka has been working with our largest customers in the North American market. “I have been able to learn how the American business culture works — from how customer communications are done, to deeply understanding what aspects of our product and service are important and relevant to our customers”, he says, and continues: “But I’ve also been able to hone my technical skills, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is when I can help a customer by coding some small but important feature overnight and then present it to them the next morning.”
A quickly evolving work environment poses certain challenges, and for Miikka, one of the most tricky ones has been managing his own time. “Learning how to prioritize tasks and projects is one of the most essential skills you can and should develop in a company that’s moving as quickly as Smartly.io.
There’s always more work and fine-tuning you could do, but striving for perfection doesn’t usually even produce more value for the customers. Rather, customers are looking for someone who can solve their problems quickly and then move on swiftly to the next one. Even the unofficial company motto references this: ‘Get Stuff Done — Smartly’.”
What about free time, then? Does he have any? “Yes, I do”, Miikka smiles, “In San Francisco, I enjoy the amazing outdoor sports opportunities the city and its surrounding areas have to offer. I’ve been hiking in national parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon — and don’t even get me started on the epic road cycling routes!
There’s also a disc golf course nearby the office, and the weather is good for all that around the year. Apart from sports, I also code, read books and watch movies that are ‘too old’ or ‘too weird’ for my friends. An upside of not having all your social circles in the same city is that when you're traveling, you’re left with a lot of time for self-development — both at work and in your free time.”
Miikka Holkeri works as a Technical Account Manager at Smartly.io. He enjoys road cycling and likes to build his own bicycles from scratch. Oh — and his surname translates to Greenland Shark in Finnish.
We’re hiring in Account Managers, Technical Account Managers and Business Developers in San Francisco. See our open positions at smartly.io/careers.