Q&A With Nick Smith – LiquidPlanner’s New Program Manager

Tatyana Sussex | February 14, 2014

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How does a new LiquidPlanner employee use our scheduling tool – and how does it change the way he works? Our new Program Manager, Nick Smith tells us all about it, along with his thoughts on multi-tasking, some wise interview tips, and more. Read on.

How did you know LiquidPlanner was the perfect fit for you?

I strongly believe that transparent communication, prioritization, and collaborative planning and execution are essential to successfully managing projects (or any other work). LiquidPlanner’s DNA is composed of these core elements, but the team has also managed to build in some hard core statistical modeling with constant consideration paid to ease of use for our customers. The result is a beautiful, useful and intelligent tool that helps teams succeed. Why would anyone not want to be a part of that?

Your favorite LiquidPlanner feature:

Ranged estimates. The ability to use ranged estimates and statistical calculations to help understand the uncertainty in my plans is amazing for two reasons: 1) It’s really easy to estimate in ranges, and 2) it’s more accurate to discuss project schedules in terms of confidence levels.

Do you have any tip(s) on how you stay productive and focused during the day?

I try to make sure that my work is prioritized and I try not to multi-task. I find myself much more effective when I break my work up into discrete elements so that I can focus my attention on one item at a time.

How has using LiquidPlanner affected the way you work?

Prior to LiquidPlanner, I had not really used the “social” functionality in a working context. The ability to collaborate with my team in one place has seriously streamlined the way I work. No more sending out FYI emails to various groups of people or forgetting which versions of documents are the most recent. With LiquidPlanner I can share ideas, ask questions, get feedback, etc., all in one place. It’s made me much more efficient.

What do you appreciate the most in your co-workers?

Aside from being super smart, hilarious, and passionate about their work, the team at LiquidPlanner has a strong sense of personal accountability. A lot of organizations hold their team members accountable for their actions, but that type of secondary accountability is much less effective than when each team member holds themselves accountable for their own actions. By having a transparent communication and collaboration tool like LiquidPlanner, we all know what we need to do to support the greater good and help the team deliver the features our customers are looking for.

Do you have a ritual or routine to the start of your work day?

I try to get a workout in before I get to the office. Exercise helps relieve stress and relax my mind. After that, I check my emails and begin to mentally prioritize and prepare for my day. I do admit that extra sleep is sometimes hard to turn down.

Your idea of happiness at work is:

Having the opportunity to work with smart, passionate people to build tools that will really help our customers succeed. Also, working with fun and diverse colleagues that are able to expand your perspective so that you’re always learning and growing is essential to staying motivated and engaged in your work.

What book has most influenced your career?

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox. I read this as part of a Supply Chain Management class. It taught me to be disciplined in action and that constant improvement is not only possible, but essential.

Advice for anyone looking for a job right now — 3 interview tips?

  • Know what you want. I found it very helpful to develop a set of rules to help guide my job search. I knew what was most important to me with regard to organizational attributes such as culture, transparency, values, collaboration and communication. During your interview, make sure and mention how your beliefs align with those of the organizations that you’re targeting.
  • Be authentic. During the interview process, it’s important to be yourself and to be honest. In certain respects, you’re looking to find a partner when you’re looking for a job. In order to ensure that you’re a good fit for the company and the role, make sure you’re up front and honest during the interview.
  • Ask good questions. It’s better to have too many questions than to not have enough. Your job as a candidate is to assess whether or not you think you’ll fit in with the organization. Asking thoughtful and thought-provoking questions helps demonstrate your interest and informs your decisions.