Today’s Tech Role Model is Oran Bambrick. Today, Oran helps Irish companies move into new markets as SVP of Digital Technologies at Enterprise Ireland. In college, Oran studied social policy and film production. He spent a few years working on short films before moving into sales and marketing for an advertising agency. As he worked his way through the ranks, he fell in love with business development operations: the processes that help grow and scale a business.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
My official title is SVP of Digital Technologies at Enterprise Ireland (the VC arm of the Irish Government) and I have been in this role a little over a year.
What attracted you to this business development role?
Five years ago, I was working for an Irish startup and moved to NYC to open an office. I experienced all the ups and downs that come with starting afresh in a new city and market. Now I act as a consultant for Irish companies/entrepreneurs we have invested in who are going through a similar process that I experienced. I think there is something weirdly cathartic about helping someone navigate a situation that you’ve been through and helping them avoid some of the mistakes you may have made!
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
The only constant is coffee! Every day is different but we need to have a diverse network and seek out varying opportunities to be helpful to our companies. We need to put ourselves around the city, network and get used to being functionally over-caffeinated from many, many meetings in cafes. Every day I’ll meet with 3-4 different US companies, be it in the media, consumer brands, or tech space, and hear what their pain points are. Because we have invested in so many companies (we are the 3rd largest VC in the world by deal flow), we can act as a good conduit of tech for them, so they come to us looking for solutions.
Then the other side is meeting or calls with our Irish startups who are based or visiting here. We help review their market entry strategy, their product, their collateral or see how we can help them grow. Finally, we host a lot of panels and events that help us give back value to the NYC tech community; that usually happens in the evening.
What skills/technologies help you to succeed?
Empathy is a trait that I’d like to think, or at least hope I possess a bit of (thanks to having insanely lovely parents). I know it sounds a bit odd, but I think empathy is an undervalued and effective skillset in any business. If you consider what brings value to each person you meet and how you can help them, that is amazing. Work hard, make yourself relative and bring value to every meeting and you’ll find obstacles start to move.
In terms of tech, I am pretty low touch in my role. I definitely use LinkedIn every day, their Sales Navigator tool is great, and Salesforce IQ helps with my contacts. We use chat channels like Teams (unfortunately not Slack, as we are an all Microsoft org) but in my role, its mostly meeting in person. Of course, I need to stay on top of tech trends and news, so I listen to plenty of podcasts and read a lot. Yet for someone with digital technology in their title, I am surprisingly low tech in the office.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your business development role?
The most fun part is definitely meeting new people and great Irish talent – I know this sounds incredibly cheesy but it is true! It makes me very patriotic and proud seeing some of the amazing people and companies coming from our country, we punch way above our weight.
Creativity wise, it is an open role where you get to put your own stamp on it. I like to put my personality and get creative with the panels and events I host. We held a ‘Data & Donuts’ event last month with panels and thought leaders in the data and security space and followed it up with a ‘Comms & Cocktails’, so you can definitely see my propensity to eat and drink in those events!
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Time management. And some of my colleagues would probably say the same, you want to do a million things to help these companies but time is always against you. You always need to evaluate how effectively you are spending your time.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
Our organization invests in such diverse sectors, so I lead the Tech portfolio, another colleague leads the Construction portfolio, another Retail, etc. At first glance, you would not think there is much crossover. But we communicate well in the office, and there are opportunities for collaboration and learning from how different sectors operate and how colleagues approach this role. We are also all shoulders to the wheel when anyone needs a dig out. At a tech event, you will see our Construction lead helping out making sure everyone has name badges, or our Finance lead setting up chairs. There is a great amount of togetherness and collaboration, as we are only 11 in our NYC office.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your business development role?
Because I look after a sector which is broadly and poorly-segmented as “digital technologies,” I am an inch deep and a mile wide – it is impossible to be an expert across such a wide berth. I look after companies from cybersecurity to consumer apps, to computer vision and analytics tools. So I need to grow my technical knowledge across a broad range of cohorts, which is hard for someone with not a huge technical background.
In your role, what metrics define success?
The final metric that we stand over the end of the year as an organization is creating more jobs in Ireland. That’s our ultimate success and it’s a pretty great metric to get behind. But there are a few lever metrics that create that impact. We have targets for brokering deals, for assisting companies to gain their first commercial deal in a new market, for making introductions. Assisting follow on funding from bigger VCs is important, too, so the companies have adequate resources to scale.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?
My technical knowledge across sectors has grown. My background is tech, but initially on the business dev side. When I had to cover so many different verticals within tech, I was self-conscious and nervous that I would be exposed as not technical enough! But that comes with digging into your sectors, lots of reading and listening to nerdy podcasts.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your business development role?
Of course, you have to be personable, but also you have to really care – again I know that sounds cheesy and cliché. But technically we are public sector, and we could be tools down at 5 pm every day if we wanted. But my colleagues are amazing workers and really care. Every night there is someone in the office until very late and every weekend there will be people in the office asking the same questions: “What are you doing here?” You have to care about the companies you are helping, and my colleagues and I most definitely do.
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