Beyond Consulting

32: From Consulting to Value Acceleration & Technology

In this episode of Beyond Consulting, sponsored by ECA Partners, we welcome Gavin Edgley, a former Kearney consultant and current Senior Director of Americas Value Acceleration at Databricks. Gavin joins us to share his journey from consulting to technology…and from Australia to America.


The Beyond Consulting Podcast is hosted by Ken Kanara and co-hosted by Steven Haug. Ken leads this week’s episode.



Ken Kanara: Hello and welcome to Beyond Consulting, the only podcast dedicated to helping you navigate your career after consulting. I’m Ken Kanara, host of beyond consulting and CEO of ECA partners, a specialized project staffing and executive search firm focused on former management consultants and private equity. Each week I get to host guests that have successfully transitioned out of consulting and gone on to do more interesting things with their career. This week I’d  to welcome Gavin Edgley to the studio. Gavin is the Senior Director of Value acceleration at Databricks. Gavin, thanks much for joining.


Gavin Edgley: Of course. Cheers, Ken. Thanks for having me.


Ken Kanara: You bet. Gavin, I usually like to start off with just a little of background from our guest. I would love to hear a little about your career and what got you here.


Gavin Edgley: For sure. You can probably tell from the accent that I’m not native to the States. I started my career out in Australia. I started as a management consultant and worked at a couple of different firms before finally making the big switch and coming across to the States, which led me to MuleSoft and now the current role at Databricks that you called out in the intro. I’m happy to go into a bit more detail, but it’s been an interesting ride so far and hopefully something helpful for folks that are planning out their next steps after consulting.


Ken Kanara: Absolutely. Gavin, you already win the award for having the most mellifluous sounding voice of all our guests. I apologize to past guests that can’t compete with his accent, but why don’t we start with Databricks. First of all, what is Databricks? What do you all do and then I’m curious to dive into your role.


Gavin Edgley: Yes, for sure. Databricks is the data and AI company, essentially. That’s the way that we position ourselves. We help data scientists, data engineers, and data analysts to solve the world’s toughest problems with their data. Some folks know this company because the co-founding team there are a great bunch of folks from Berkeley that pioneered some really innovative technology like Spark and Delta Lake. Since then, the company has really grown to the point now where we have 3000 employees, a fantastic $38 billion valuation, the support and investment of each of the large cloud providers, as well as Salesforce. It’s quite a force for change and innovation in the data AI space. We help companies large and small who have yet to solve those really tough problems.


Ken Kanara: Could you us an give an example, for our listeners that don’t quite understand what that means?


Gavin Edgley: Yes, of course. I always used to get this question in consulting, “How do you explain your job?,” when you’re at a BBQ. It’s always really hard. It’s easier now that I’m at Databricks. If you watch Disney+, for example, you’re watching a show and you’ll finish it up, there will be a recommendation at the end. There will be a couple of recommendations as to what you should watch next. All of those recommendations are powered by Databricks. What’s happening behind the scenes there is that they understand the way that users interact with their platform, they understand preferences, and then they’re able to make recommendations that are most going to be attuned to your tastes. All that’s powered by Databricks.


Ken Kanara: Excellent, and is it almost exclusively or is it exclusively B2B?


Gavin Edgley: Yes. Well, there’s an investment in the education side of things. It’s really important for the next wave of users to feel really comfortable with our platform. Universities and individuals can actually use the software. There’s a free-to-use version which can get you started. In terms of the commercial focus of Databricks, it’s very much business-to-business and we cover all segments. We cover the top end to down, the huge companies like Walgreens and Disney, right down to some of the small, innovative startups here in the Bay Area, as well.


Ken Kanara: Excellent. Do you think about breaking that up into different sectors or industries or do you think about it from a solution perspective? How do you think about that?


Gavin Edgley: We do. Databricks is going through a lot of change. I’ve been at Databricks now for nearly three years and when I joined it was just a couple hundred folks, now there’s 3,000 and there’s been a lot of change throughout that period, including a shift in our focus and the way that we go to market towards verticalization. We’ve broken out our first verticals and we tailor the messaging and our approach based on the specific needs of those verticals. In short, yes, I think it’s really important. If you’re a data scientist working in healthcare versus a data scientist working in retail, you speak a different language. It’s fortunate that Databricks is now at the scale that we can meet the needs of those different groups and tailor the approach.


Gavin Edgley: Excellent. What about your role? What is it exactly that you do and how has that evolved since joining?


Gavin Edgley: Yes. The role that I play, myself and my team, we help to tell the story of the impact that companies can make with data an AI. We quantify the impact that’s made. We basically make our customers an absolute hero in the process. Typically, the work that we do to create an executive-ready piece of communication to celebrate the successes of these teams and piece it all together, typically we use the most, either for customers that are running with our software and they’re looking to expand the influence of their data AI practice or alternately, they’re just getting started and they want to help justify the investment.

The Value Acceleration team is essentially an extension of the field sales organization. Databricks has a few hundred account executives and really, really proficient technical folks that partner together with them in order to make our customers successful. We come in as specialized people that can bring a unique set of skills, often from our consulting background, to help modeling, quantify, and pull together an executive-ready story, and then help our account executives and those account teams to present it to the right folks.


Ken Kanara: Is it okay for me to think of value acceleration is similar to customer success, and if not, how is it different?


Gavin Edgley: It’s a bit different. We partner with customer success. There’s a few ways to think about this. I can see why you would link it through to customer success. At Databricks at least, customer success is often more technical. Our customer success engineers will be able to help with high level architectural issues. They’ll be able to help problem solve on specific challenges the customer might be facing.

Our role is slightly different in that we make the connection between the technology that’s being used and the impact that it drives for the business. Our work typically involves understanding the strategic objectives of a company, connecting with a very senior executive audience, often an audience that’s less technical, and then helping them to build a case for change. I’d say the customer success folks pick up that story and actually use it to help guide the way that they then interact with customers, but it’s slightly different, if that helps.


Ken Kanara: It does, it does. It sounds like you have to understand a lot more of the business side of things versus the technical side of things.


Gavin Edgley: Definitely.


Ken Kanara: Okay, got it. That makes a lot of sense. Have you always worked on value acceleration since joining Databricks or has that evolved?


Gavin Edgley: I have. When I joined, I was the first member of the team under the global VP. Now there are 15 of us globally, with 7 on my team here in the US. We have a pretty quick growth trajectory over the last couple of years and, of course, the plan is for that growth trajectory to continue. We’re pretty fortunate. Over the last 12 months, the plan was to double the size of the business in terms of the number of people and we’re pretty much doubling revenue as well. The growth rate is insane. We’re racing towards the first billion in revenue. It’s an exciting journey and our team is central to a lot of those deals, especially the bigger ones that are pushing us forward. It’s important that Databricks recognizes the need to invest in this team as the company grows.


Ken Kanara: Excellent. And speaking of growth, you mentioned clients like Disney+. Where are you seeing a lot of the growth happen? Is it in certain company sizes, in certain sectors? What does that look like?


Gavin Edgley: It’s an interesting one. It’s tough to pin down. The way I often frame it is there’s a few ways to tackle data and AI. If you were an Uber or Facebook, Google, you were early adopters and you would essentially be able to brute force it. You would hire large, large numbers of the smartest engineers and you would build the platform you need in order to create a knowledge graph or a whatever else is required to make your product sing.

The next wave of companies taking advantage of data don’t have the privilege of being able to hire such huge engineering teams and create all this from scratch. Instead, they turn to companies like Databricks, where we’ve been able to bottle up that magic, build it into a platform, and they can start building out the things that are most specific to their organization that will drive the most impact, without having to first build the factory. Databricks has done that piece, you can focus on producing whatever is required.

The interesting part is that companies of all shapes and sizes benefit from that technology. Some of the really exciting work we’re doing is with some of those digital, native companies, the Fangs or Mangs plus one, but there are all large enterprises in healthcare, retail, manufacturing that are applying this technology. I’d love to get more specific, but it really is just that broad. Data and AI is being applied everywhere.


Ken Kanara: Where do you see a typical entry point? Part of the reason I ask is because a big portion of the US economy is driven by small businesses and old-fashioned businesses. Like, today I’m getting my air conditioning repaired. What does the world look like right now from an advanced analytics perspective for companies?


Gavin Edgley: I would say it’s rare for a small air conditioning company to be turning to Databricks for data and AI use cases. There’s a bit of a prerequisite here. For example, if I think of something on the smallest end of town that we were working with a year and a bit ago now, I was working with a distributor of basically fresh food. They wanted to apply data and AI to overcome their challenge with improving their supply chain. If it’s fresh berries that are reaching supermarkets, it’s very important to make sure that they get there really quickly, and they wanted to use Databricks to help get there.

The challenge for them was they didn’t have a single data engineer within their organization. They were relying on some pretty simple methods, some simple excel spreadsheets, basically, that they were using to move data around. It meant that they weren’t at the level of maturity that they could actually take advantage of Databricks just yet. There’s a minimum requirement there in order to get started, a basic level of data proficiency, which excludes the level of small business that you’re describing, but as soon as you start to get to the bigger enterprises, the world is your oyster.


Ken Kanara: Okay, got it. I can almost think of it as, if you’re big enough to have a small FP&A team, you’re probably relevant for a company like Databricks.


Gavin Edgley: Absolutely. Yes, that’s probably a good way to cover it.


Ken Kanara: This might segue us to your previous role at MuleSoft, but I’m curious to learn how you got interested in Databricks, and value acceleration in general?


Gavin Edgley: The easiest way to explain it would probably be to rewind a little because the thread of how it happened actually started with the consulting experience. I might skip the beginning part and then see how it threads through, but the journey for me started with AT Kearney as my first job out of university and I learned the ropes of consulting. I was working on tech media telco growth strategy projects and working on a lot of process optimization in telco, but in Australia, I was really passionate about tech right from the beginning. I had listened to the A16Z podcast, I would jump on Tech Crunch and know all about all the crazy work that all these great innovative tech companies are doing, and the closest I could get to working on those  projects from Australia was telco. So that was where I ended up doubling down, but it never quite got to where I would like it to be in terms of the nature of the work. The closest I got was  pricing strategy for a telco. Interesting, but not the cutting edge innovation that I was really chasing.

I ended up leaving after a few years of great experience at Kearney and worked on a really early stage startup with a couple of mates from McKinsey. We were at that for the best part of a year, it didn’t turn out quite the way we would have liked, so I ended up coming back and returning to consulting. This time I was focused on tech media telco gross strategy firm. It was a small firm of 12 people. It was a great experience but again, my challenge was that it was just Australia. I found I was reaching some limitations there in terms of the kind of work I wanted to do. My favorite project was working for a telco. I was seconded as the head of big data to help, basically, get their big data practice off the ground. Through that I started learning about a lot of these technologies and learning, again, that the US is the place to really dive in.

I ended up leaving that consulting firm and come over to the US to hunt for an opportunity in tech. For me, I wanted to find what was that right stepping off point to go from consulting in order to land in Silicon Valley and find that next gig, while also learning all the cultural differences of how these crazy Americans think. I had a few challenges all piled up at once, which was fun to navigate.


Ken Kanara: We apologize for that, by the way.


Gavin Edgley: I’m engaged to one, so I kind of like you guys.


Ken Kanara: It’s too late. You’re in too deep.


Gavin Edgley: What I concluded is that there are a few areas of interest to me. I really like the PMM role. I was speaking to Facebook, Lyft, Uber, Square, Box, a few of these great spots. That was one area of investigation. I liked the idea of product management, but I thought that’s too far of a leap to get someone to take a chance on a foreigner for their first job in the US and it’s taking a stretch into one of the highest demand roles in Silicon Valley. It was too much to do in one go, so I thought, “Eh, let’s put a pin in that and see if I can come back to it later.”

What I ended up stumbling across with MuleSoft was this business value consulting, value engineering role. What I learned was that it is a really interesting intersection of a lot of the skills that I’d developed in consulting. The elements around being able to really quickly get up to speed with what actually matters within an industry, being able to produce the executive-ready coms and some models that you can defend, and then being able to communicate and iterate that with some senior folks on the customer side, all of those were skills that I was really familiar with. The pieces that were the unknown for me were what does enterprise sales look like? I’d done some projects in that space, but I certainly wasn’t an expert, and then what makes a tech company tick? Those were things I really wanted to rub off on me through this experience of moving to the US and working in Silicon Valley. Coming back to your original question, that’s what led me to this this piece in the first place and this this role? Does that answer it? I hope so.


Ken Kanara: It does. One other question I now have is, you just got on a plane and went for it?


Gavin Edgley: Yes. That’s normal, right?


Ken Kanara: That’s awesome. Now I’m curious of the story behind the story. You flew to San Francisco…where did this many adventure go?


Gavin Edgley: That turned out to be harder than I expected, from the outset. I left Australia full of confidence thinking, “I’m so employable. I’ve got this huge passion for tech. I’ll be hired in no time.” It took seven months, which is longer than I longer than I anticipated, and it took two trips because on the appropriate visa you cannot stay for too long in in the US before needing to go back to Australia. I had some real hurdles. I actually found that learning how to sell myself was a big challenge. I knew how to sell myself to Australians, but Australians, I don’t know, have a reputation of drinking a lot and being pretty friendly, but they don’t necessarily have a reputation of selling themselves in a corporate environment in Silicon Valley. I needed to reinvent myself a little.

I ended up connecting with this community of other Australians that were trying to do the same thing. Surprisingly, there’s more than just me. I’m still in touch with a lot of them. That community helped and when I was here and didn’t have a job, I had nothing to do other than just find that right fit. I was really, really aggressive on LinkedIn. My initial pitch was, “I’d love to learn about your career…” Basically, here’s how it worked. I found people on LinkedIn who were working at the companies I was really passionate about and had worked at Bain, McKinsey or BCG before they got there. Those are my people.


Ken Kanara: Nice. You just reached out and had conversations with them?


Gavin Edgley: That was it. I said to them, “Can I shout you a coffee, I’d love to hear about your career,” that was all it was. You don’t get many characters when you send out a LinkedIn message cold like that. I was really, really pleased with how many people actually responded positively. I didn’t realize that everyone gets free food, they don’t really care about being shouted a coffee. Americans have pretty rubbish coffee anyway. It turned out they just invited me to their office, we’d often have a few of their free snacks or something or other, and then and we get to know one another that way. But I found that was a really good way for me to understand these roles and then eventually, people tended to work out, “Okay, this guy kind of knows what he’s talking about…,” enough for them to at least make a referral. This, of course, helped me get to the top of the pile for the applications for the jobs.


Ken Kanara: Then you also learn about what you want to do and what, equally important, you don’t want to do.


Gavin Edgley: Right, absolutely. And the chances of me being employed in any one of these roles. I was acutely aware that I needed to just make that first step. The two offers that I ended up getting at the conclusion of that process were a consulting firm, that I would have absolutely loved to have joined Altman Vilandrie, with a San Francisco based role . It was a telco media tech company. I’m still in touch with a couple of the partners there. I had a really good experience. The other role I was offered was this business value consulting, this value acceleration role but at MuleSoft, and I figured, now I have an opportunity to work in one of these tech companies. I really wanted to see that one through. That ended up being my first step in the US.

I’ll clarify that I made sure I was very on top of the correct visas to make sure that all of this works. It’s atypical for someone to do it this way so I was extra careful in making sure that I ticked all those boxes.


Ken Kanara: That’s right. Then you found yourself at MuleSoft. Can you tell the listeners a little more about what MuleSoft does and your role there as well?


Gavin Edgley: Yes, sure. MuleSoft is basically an integration platform for companies that want to make connections between different systems. For example, if you want your Salesforce CRM to connect to your Oracle ERP and you’d need to build those connections to make sure that data can flow through and in the appropriate speed and cadence and all that stuff, and MuleSoft offers a solution to do just that.

The role that I had there was really similar to this role that I have here, which is I had a smaller patch to cover. I covered a few different regions within the US and I was really closely linked to the performance of the field, so if they closed deals, I would end up earning some commissions. I ended up being able to cover a really wide variety of companies, similar to consulting, it appealed to being able to jump from organization to organization and learn them, learn these how these crazy Americans think, work with some New York sellers, work with some in Chicago, work right across the country. Essentially, I worked out work out what this specialized role looks like.

I found that has now helped me in a leadership role at Databricks. I’ve seen some of the things that worked and some of the things that didn’t work at MuleSoft, and I’ve now been able to apply those, as well as drawing on the experience of my boss and my mentor here at Databricks, Doug May–absolutely brilliant. I think all of those elements have really helped piece together what comes after, basically the MuleSoft to Databricks switch.


Ken Kanara: Excellent. To summarize that, you wanted to go from consulting to technology. It sounds like you did a few things. The first thing you mentioned is you geeked out. You went down the YouTube and podcast rabbit hole to just learn everything that you had no clue about. Two, you decided to get on a plane for God knows why, and just figure it out, which we could argue about the approach, but it worked. Then three, which I think is not a minor point, which is you just reached out to some folks and said, “Hey, I want to learn.” I think that’s interesting because a lot of the folks that I see in consulting now they tell me, “Oh, but I looked at this company and there’s no there’s no jobs available,” and I feel like they’ve shot themselves in the foot before they’ve even started. How do you overcome that, I don’t want to call it fear, but how do you quiet the voice inside your head that says, “This might be a huge waste of time…”


Gavin Edgley: I think a lot of consultants I have worked with have this great curiosity and if you put yourself in the shoes of the person that you may think to reach out to that could help you understand this, if they’re anything like me, they’re very appreciative of the people that helped to get them there, and a discussion with someone that’s curious, engaging, intelligent, and motivated to understand and make the next move, I have time for people like that. I’ve seen others that helped me that certainly had time for it as well.

I’d squash those negative thoughts by saying, “Look there’s either one of two kinds of people. Either they’re willing and open to help, or they’re not the kind of person you want to be getting advice from and make connections with anyway. If they say yes, great, have a chat. If they say no, that’s probably not a bad thing either. You’ll get enough of the positive responses to make it a worthwhile effort.


Ken Kanara: Okay, I think that’s good for the listeners to hear because, bringing it really full circle here, Gavin, is, I didn’t know Gavin before basically getting acquainted through this podcast, but I have a similar approach with guests. Now, a lot of them are friends, but a lot of them are folks that it’s just an area that our listeners have said, “Hey, we want to learn about this,” and I try to get those guests on the show. I’ve had a similar experience in that I’m continuously surprised actually at the willingness and openness of folks to just share what they know with me and with our listeners, so that’s great.


Gavin Edgley: Definitely. It was a bit of an interesting point for me coming straight to the US and not really being sure what that culture would be like, especially given, I feel like Australia is  a country town compared to coming to SF, and I saw this bravado. There’s this big energy and, I don’t want to say arrogance, but there’s a lot of confidence behind a lot of these Americans that work in these really interesting positions doing this great work. I wasn’t sure if that would also be combined with the “I’m looking out for myself. I’m going to be a bit of a jerk to you when you reach out.” That is not what I found. Instead, I found that, while these people have big personalities and they’re working hard and they’re doing great things, they also got there through the help of others, and they’re more much more open than I expected. I was really pleasantly surprised.


Ken Kanara: That’s a funny point because I don’t know if it’s the accent, but I will say, I know I can’t speak for everybody in America, but when I started my career I was very intimidated by folks from the UK or Australia. I was just like, “Wow, they sound very confident.”


Gavin Edgley: That’s funny. I got in an Uber in San Francisco–I’d love the sharing Ubers back before COVID, when you could actually do that, because I made loads of friends–and every single person I sat next to, even the Uber drivers, they had their own startup. They were doing something big. I found, I don’t know if you have to bleep it, but I found that when I got to America my bullshit meter was off. I couldn’t tell if someone was actually going to be the next Bill Gates or if they weren’t going to get there at all. It took me while to recalibrate, so yes, definitely some cultural differences, but I think assuming people are going to be helpful is probably a good way to operate.


Ken Kanara: Absolutely, and actually, it’s funny you mentioned the Uber shared rides, because I used to love that. Our office is in LA and I used to do the same thing. Replace startup with actor right, and then you hear the story and then as soon as I got out of the Uber I’d be Googling this person. It turns out they’re not as famous as they projected themselves to be, but my bullshit meter was off, too. And we don’t need to bleep anything here.


Gavin Edgley: Perfect, glad to hear it.


Ken Kanara: It’s free reign. Excellent. I think that’s quite a journey, Gavin. I appreciate you sharing that. I would love to transition, what advice do you have for folks that are in consulting and looking to get into tech or SaaS, or even a startup, just in general?


Gavin Edgley: I’ve got a few bits of advice. There was one thing that really came to me when I was first doing the exercise of marketing myself to these different roles. I’ll give you an example. I interviewed for a product marketing manager role at Box, and when I looked at the position description and the way that they needed people that could translate between technical needs and business needs and, the whole role essentially, I just thought, “I’ve done that time and time again, but in a consulting setting and would be a perfect fit for that role,” and when I put forward my CV I thought, “Yeah, I’m a shoe in for this.”

When I got in front of the hiring manager, all my assumptions I had to throw out the window. The hiring manager for that particular role had no idea what a management consultant does. They certainly didn’t understand the nuance of a strategic management consultant if you’re doing your growth strategy work versus more of an implementation style IT consultant. There was certainly none of that nuance, and they barely really understood how the consulting skill set would apply to that role. That was a bit of an eye opener for me. Once I internalized it, I realized I needed to do a much better job of actually selling my experience and matching it to the role that I had in front of me. It was something that wasn’t immediately obvious that I even needed to do. I thought my CV spoke for itself. No, it turns out that’s not the case. I would certainly encourage folks to be thinking that through. At least for me, at first, I needed a few friendly folks that were friends that were already in these spots or I’d reach out to through LinkedIn to actually take a look at my CV and take a look at the role that I’m thinking of applying to and help give me some guidance of how I could actually improve the match. Luckily for me, I got better at it pretty quickly, but at first it was really rough, I’d encourage you to acknowledge that, especially within tech, folks don’t necessarily understand the consulting role or how great the skills are a fit for these jobs.


Ken Kanara: Absolutely. That can vary by position as well as company type within tech, right? A product manager for one company might be an entirely different role than it is for another company, and by the way, have an entirely different skill set required. A technical PM versus a non-technical PM. There’s all sorts of variations there. Great point. Is there anything else? It sounds like you had more.


Gavin Edgley: Yes, I’ve got a few that will be helpful, I’m hoping. That was a big one for me to begin with. I would also encourage folks to be thinking through the role that is likely to be the best fit. The ones that I’ve learned through tons of conversations and questions, the kind of role I first thought I would be getting into in tech coming from consulting, was a strategy or biz ops role. One Australian, my good mate Nikki Lou, she’d managed to come over to the US and work at Google in a biz ops role, and I was like, “Great. That’s probably the one that I’m after.” What I actually learned was that only a few of the largest most mature tech companies actually have that role. Uber had it, Google had it, there were a handful like that, but I only really realized afterwards that my thinking of where consultants go after consulting in Australia, which is, there aren’t that many options, you go to one of the big banks or one of the big telcos and you work in their strategy team. That doesn’t work in tech. There isn’t a centralized strategy function that you can typically just parachute into unless you’re going for the bigger, more mature companies and that forced me to then think, “I don’t want to go for the bigger ones, I actually want something that’s growing faster.” I wanted that growth experience because I think a lot of opportunity comes from it. It ended up pushing me away from that initial role and that’s what led me to those two roles that I was really narrowing in on.

The product marketing manager, the PMM, that was at Facebook, I think that was the Box role, as well, that one was a good fit because it married together the consulting skills and the tech and product piece, which I really liked. I saw it as a potential gateway to product manager. Then separately, in the enterprise sales space, this business value consulting or value engineering role seems like it could be a really good fit. On that second piece, the point there is think through and explore what those roles could be. Hopefully I’ve given you a few shortcuts there in terms of what worked for me, but it’s certainly worth considering.


Ken Kanara: That’s great. One of the other, I’d say, “central themes of Gavin,” if you will, is it’s super impressive that throughout this experience or transition from Australia to the to the States, or consulting to tech, you managed to hit on something which is important, and that is, “Let me actually think about how the person on the other side of the table is picking this up.” I think that’s something that, I completely missed in consulting right. It was like, “Okay, I’m here to do this project, I’m going to do this project, and now I’m done, and now what project am I on next?” It really was all about me, then, as I got further in my career, I’ve realized I don’t matter. I’m being a little funny on purpose, but the reality is that if I’m going to work with clients and if I’m going to work with candidates, I actually need to understand what matters to them and what are their objectives. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s had such an impact in terms of why you’ve been successful in the role that you’re in now at Databricks.


Gavin Edgley: I think you’ve hit on a really interesting part of the journey and I can credit a lot of it to understanding how sales people think. When I was a consultant I used to think “sales” was a bit of a dirty word. It’s not the kind of thing I think I’d want to be doing or the place I’d want to be working, but my boss, Doug, as I called out earlier, he rose through the ranks as a salesperson and a sales manager, now into a leader of this value acceleration practice globally, and he and I have complementary skills. I can probably produce a prettier slide deck, although his are really pretty these days, but his empathy for the team, his empathy for the folks that we’re selling to in order to make them successful, the way he thinks about long-term growth of people and the others within our organization, all of those things were lessons that I wasn’t even aware that I needed to learn. A big part of my success has been, yes, thinking about the person on the other side of the of the table, but then also, I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a mentor who is invested in my success and willing and able to teach me and show me some of these things to drive long-term success in tech. Again, I don’t know if you need to hit all of these points all at once but it’s certainly something that’s helped me in my career.


Ken Kanara: No, that’s a really great point, especially because I hear you on sales in the past being a bit of a dirty word. Now we’re even seeing consultants go into sales roles for the exact reasons that you’re talking about. It’s a more complex sale, empathy is required. It’s not just  explaining the features and benefits and hoping that they’ll sign on the dotted line. Thanks for sharing that.


Gavin Edgley: Of course.


Ken Kanara: Lastly, Gavin, because we are all a bunch of nerdy consultants at our core, we’re slowly developing a library of books that we recommend to our listeners. I’m curious if there are any books that have had a big impact on your career life?


Gavin Edgley: Absolutely. I was thinking about this one before I jumped on. Lining up with our enterprise sales theme, I think there are a couple of great sales books that are worth a look. Spin Selling and Never Split the Difference are two of my favorites. One that actually jumped in before I’d gone down this path, when I was back as a consultant, that really changed my perspective was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It sounds, again, it sounds almost manipulative in the title, but the big take away for me from that book was just that the way to build rapport with folks and build lasting connections is just to show genuine interest in them. It’s not that hard if you actually have curiosity and this goal to make connections with folks. That book is what got me thinking along those lines.


Ken Kanara: I love that. I noticed you mentioned Spin Selling, which I’m also a huge fan of. It’s especially helpful in solutions selling.


Gavin Edgley: Definitely.


Ken Kanara: For those listeners, I promise that even though it’s a bad acronym, it doesn’t mean,  you’re not trying to put a spin on anything. It’s actually just an acronym, which if I recall correctly, Gavin, it’s situation, problem, implications and then need payoff.


Gavin Edgley: I think you got it, nice.


Ken Kanara: It’s just a structure to think about selling. I like Dale Carnegie’s book, as well. Gavin, I really appreciate you joining the podcast. If folks want to learn a little more about Databricks, where should they look?


Gavin Edgley: Find me on LinkedIn, and you can learn about Databricks that way. I must say that given my background is in is in consulting, I really value this skillset. I see how well it applies to this value acceleration role and to this to this industry, and applying it to tech. I think that, while I described us as helping on commercial deals directly, there’s actually a bigger picture that value team at Databricks impacts, which is, we help to up-level the way that Databricks sells. We spot problems in the way that we go to market and we actively come up with solutions and then help to scale them. I think that’s something that a consulting mind, a consulting problem solver is pretty uniquely positioned to do really, really well. I’ve, in the past, actively reached out to folks that are currently in consulting roles and have a passion for tech in order to attract them to Databricks. If there are folks that are passionate about breaking into tech and they have the consulting background, I’d love to hear from them. LinkedIn me, I think that’d be brilliant.


Ken Kanara: There you have it guys, an open invitation. It won’t even be a cold outreach like Gavin had to do.


Gavin Edgley: Exactly.


Ken Kanara: Thanks for doing that, and we’ll also include your company website in the podcast description. For those of you listening for the first time, make sure to subscribe and like us on Spotify, Apple, and Amazon so that you’re notified of future episodes. If you’re interested in learning more about the podcast or want to become a guest, it’s and then lastly, if you want to get in touch with me directly, or anybody at my firm, it’s going to be and you can just navigate to the team page and you got all our contact information there. Gavin, thanks so much for joining. Have a wonderful weekend, and for everyone else, I look forward to talking to you next week.


Gavin Edgley: Cheers, Ken. Appreciate it.



Connect with Gavin on LinkedIn and visit for more information.




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