Meet Tom Lin, Chief Operating Officer responsible for our Customer Success and Sales teams worldwide. Over the course of his AvePoint career, Tom has helped shape our sales culture and has worked globally out of Jersey City, London, and Tokyo. He’s managed various teams including enterprise and mid-market sales, sales operations, and the channel. Tom is also responsible for our EduTech line of business and is a founding member of AvePoint’s Talent Optimization and Management (aka “ATOM”) program.
Read on to learn more about his experience and leadership style.
What were you doing prior to joining AvePoint?
AvePoint was my first employer out of college. I was studying Political Science and Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and like many students with these majors, I thought my only options were going to law school or into a government job or law enforcement. I ended up applying to an entry–level sales job at AvePoint through Rutgers’ careers site, where I was hired by AvePoint co-CEOs Kai and TJ as the first sales rep for the company. AvePoint’s original office was very close to Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick, and we have since hired many Rutgers alumni to work at our Jersey City headquarters.
What tips do you have for those who are thinking about entering the technology field?
When getting into technology – and technology sales specifically – it’s important to learn as much as you can about the market. This requires a lot of self-study; there isn’t a specific class you can take to learn about this industry as it’s very fast–paced. Having awareness of the market is essential.
To acquire that knowledge, follow tech news and read blogs and articles that talk about technology. Also, understand how investors are talking about technology and why people are putting money into certain tech companies and markets over others. These are good ways to understand what trends are here to stay.
Every morning before I start my workday I consume about 30 minutes of tech–based news, not just on Microsoft but on the broader ecosystem and larger firms like Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
It may sound simple, but it’s to stand out.
A lot of people focus on knowing a lot of things, but make sure that your knowledge translates into doing things. Even if you are the smartest person in the room, you need to do actionable things to stand out. When it comes to sales, this means being the highest revenue sales rep. Consider the following: are you setting more meetings, making more calls, and booking more deals than others? Your actions should speak louder than your words, and this will set you apart from the rest of the pack.
What makes AvePoint an exciting opportunity?
Now is such an exciting time to join the company as we are on the cusp of going from a private to public company. As we get into the public eye, we will have new and exciting opportunities at both a strategic and financial level. Like many private companies, we were more conservative and temperate with our approach for our first 20 years of business. In becoming a public organization, we will be shifting to a period of accelerated growth. Looking back at many well-known tech organizations like Facebook or Salesforce, people frequently lament that they wish they were a part of the company in the early days or they wish they were there for their IPO. It’s often too late to get on that train, but we’re at that point now at AvePoint.
Can you tell us about any challenges AvePoint is facing right now?
Basically, the flip side of the coin I just described. We are about to be in the public eye, and while we will continue to do what we do from a business function, now we need to take into consideration the public’s viewpoint. With accelerated growth and new opportunities, we’re bound to experience some growing pains. We’re hiring a lot of new employees and creating new departments, and while this will naturally come with new challenges, we’re ready to tackle them.
What are the next steps for your department at AvePoint?
I will split this into Sales and Customer Success teams.
From a Sales perspective, we are leveling up. We will continue to expand our footprint and add new product lines, like our recent expansion into the education space through EduTech. We’ll continue to build out verticalized solutions targeting specific business lines across many industries.
From a Customer Success perspective, we will continue to focus on growing this team and ensuring the stickiness of our great products with our current customers to continue bringing in recurring revenue. Our Customer Success department will continuously service our clients and their specific needs.
What is your leadership approach like?
I’m very hands–on and a strong believer in leading by example. I would never ask someone to do something I cannot or will not do myself. I like being in the weeds and building out a model or procedure, then training someone and handing it off. I also put in what I expect out of my team. If I know someone is staying up late to finish a project, I will stay up with them until we get it done.
What makes up a successful team member?
An important quality I look for in a team member is someone who is open–minded. They need to be open to others’ opinions and ideas and understand that there isn’t one way to solve a problem. The best solutions come from a combination of multiple ideas. I also want team members who are open to constructive feedback.
What’s your favorite part about working at AvePoint?
The people. Within my role, I’ve interfaced with half the company and hundreds if not thousands of AvePoint employees throughout my career. Working with team members in different parts of the world with different upbringings and cultural backgrounds translates into different job approaches. It’s enlightening to see and understand these different approaches and ideas; that really charges my batteries. We’re all different, but we are all working towards the same goals, and at AvePoint that’s what unites us.