*Note: This is a guest article by Tim Bennett for the Spotlight on MACH series. The writing is entirely his own. No edits, other than formatting, have been made.
Love technology, but don’t want to be pigeonholed into a specific technology or sit behind a computer screen coding? Want more face-to-face interaction? Want insight into business but still want to be a geek? I found myself asking these same questions after graduating. Do they sound familiar? If so, the TAM role may be right for you.
First, a little on me. I have a BS in Computer Engineering with a minor in Management & Technology, and I LOVE technology. I live on Engadget and other tech forums. I build my own computers. I’m the family tech guy. You get the idea, and many of you can relate. During college I interned at IBM (Software dev & hardware research), Microsoft (PM in Windows) and GE (PM for internal tech projects). Post graduation I interviewed with Microsoft for a PM position out in Redmond. I didn’t get it. I was crushed. But then again, that’s the funny thing about fate. Out of the blue I was contacted by a recruiter for the TAM role, I interviewed, took a chance and never looked back; and I honestly can say I couldn’t be happier.
OK, I’ll take the bait, but what does a TAM do?
I am the customer’s voice, and boy do they get loud sometimes. Microsoft’s customers invest heavily in Microsoft technology in order to give them a competitive advantage. The TAM is responsible for managing the service contracts that are sold with this software. It is the TAMs responsibility to manage these contracts, align business objectives with coordinated service deliveries and ensure that our customers maximize the value they are seeing from their investment.
Currently, I manage $1.3 million in contract value, have a regular cadence with executive leadership (Direct and CIO level) at my customers, have insight into strategic business decision-making processes and have gained an broad knowledge on the Microsoft suite of products. I manage technical issues from the trenches and report them at the 50,000-foot level and everywhere in between. And if you’re lucky, your customers realize the value you provide and buy more services from you.
Why the TAM role?
Technology – I am immersed in technology every day at my customers whether it is their infrastructure, 3rd party applications, or anything in the ever expanding suite of Microsoft Products. The TAM role allows you to get a breadth of knowledge that some other roles simply cannot afford. On top of this, you pick up troubleshooting tips and tricks along the way to help you out in future situations.
Opportunity – Not only is the TAM role an amazing job, but it is an amazing way to start your career. Because of the broad range of technology you encounter, it makes deciding what you want to do in your next role that much easier AND you have the contacts to move there. There are TAMs that decide to go purely technical and pick a technology they love. Others go into sales. Others still go into Project/Program Management. The role truly is what you make of it.
Balance – Like anything in life, this job will give you returns based on what you put into it. The harder you work, the more it rewards you. However, it also provides flexibility. If you need to adjust your working hours one day (and as long as your customers don’t need you), you are free to make that adjustment. If you want to work a 40-hour week, you can set those expectations with your customer. If you find yourself caught in a remote location (say for instance, a beach), yup, you can work from there too.
Overall, the TAM role is an amazing opportunity at Microsoft. You’ll gain insight into a broad range of Microsoft technologies and more importantly, how our customers are using them. You’ll be given great responsibility and freedom to manage large accounts and have the opportunity to develop strategy side by side with some of our strategic partners around the world. And when all is said and done, you’ll have an amazing springboard into the next role.
Hopefully this has opened your eyes to the role of Technical Account Manager. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments and I’d be happy to try and answer them.