In this interview, we had the pleasure of talking to Angela McKay, Vice President of Client Interactions at ECI Solutions. She shared the backstory of her career, and how relationships, with clients or fellow professionals, can lift us all up.

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Full Podcast Transcript

Grace Mase 0:08

Welcome. We're really excited to have Angela McKay today with us. She is the Vice President of Client Experiences with ECI Solutions. Welcome, Angela.

Angela McKay  0:18

Thank you, Grace. I'm happy to be here.

Grace Mase  0:20

Great. You have accomplished so much over the years and we would love to understand behind the scene. How did you get started?

Angela McKay  0:29

Well, that's a good question. I'm way older than I sound as well. I just want . . . my professional career is probably . . . Oh, gosh, I hate to even say is about . . . It's teetering on almost 30 years, not in homebuilding. So, I have always been in technology. Right out of college, I worked for a technology company and worked my way up from sort of entry-level positions to a sales manager for all of Western Canada. I'm located in Vancouver, and they work with our clients to develop corporate education solutions from a technology perspective. And the gentleman who hired me right out of college also owned Lasso Data Systems, which is a CRM company that developed home builder software, or CRM software for new home sales. So I was in corporate education for technology training for about 10 years, got married, had kids, did it in the traditional order. And, you know, really kind of struggled, as women sometimes do, balancing career, family, personal, marriage, all of that kind of stuff. And I quit, I decided that I was going to stay home with my kids. And I did that, it lasted all of, oh gosh, it lasted a few months. I'm that type of person that sort of takes on and fills up their plate. And whether it's volunteering, or it's an actual paying position, but it just didn't take long for me to fill up my plate and get back into the workforce. And I did some consulting and contracting for a number of years when my kids were quite young. In 2008, that sort of tenuous year in homebuilding, the writing was on the wall with the contract that I had. I knew that their head office was in Toronto, I knew that things were kind of a little bit shaky. So I reached, what do you do when that happens, you start to reach out to your connections, and you start to reach out to people that you know, and that you've worked with, and that you've proven yourself to. So that's when I reached out to Dave Clements, who, at the time owned Lasso Data Systems, and got hired as a contractor. My background and specialty was marketing and email marketing, specifically. And that's a huge component of Lasso. So I worked as a contractor for a number of years through that kind of uncomfortable stage of the downturn in the economy. I've said this before, I've kind of maintained that I kept my job because I was a contractor, and we could come to agreeable terms as to how many hours I worked. So it worked for everything and was a good balance in my life, family, again, going back to the family being most important, and the job was a requirement, but it was secondary. So I did that for a number of years and more. I've probably worn the most hats within Lasso. I started as an Email Marketing Specialist, moved into a role as Client Director. About I guess, I want to say 2009-2010, I moved into a marketing role. That's when I started to realize that this part-time career of mine was actually becoming full-time. And this career in technology was actually making a bit of a shift to homebuilding. I discovered that I really love the home building industry. It was also at a time when, you know, when Facebook, social media, was really taking off. And it became more of a platform than just finding your old high school friends. We used some of those platforms and digital marketing to really develop and create a personality with the company. We used and developed our partnership within homebuilding with a lot of really great sales trainers and educators in the industry. We reached out to them, and we really made an emphasis on providing a great education to the industry. So it helped us, it helped our partners, and it helped our clients. And you know, looking back, it's really where the Lasso community really started to grow. It wasn't until we were hiring a marketing manager in, doesn't really matter the time frame, 2010 or 2012. I think it was, and she made a comment to me that she said, she loved Lasso’s personality. And that to me, kind of did it. I thought you know what? We've accomplished what we set out to accomplish. And we've created a CRM, which isn't all that exciting, with personality. So I moved along and I, you know, I became the VP of Marketing with Lasso. And then I moved up, two years ago, I transitioned quite nicely into the VP of client experience. And that's where I really focused on working with our clients, building relationships, really helping them, learn how to utilize the software, and get the most return on investment. About a year and a half ago, we got acquired by ECI Software Solutions. And I have now responsible for all residential home construction, which includes Mark systems, an ERP system, lock-view inventory management, and Lasso. So we covered the whole spectrum from initial interest from a prospect, right through to building that home.

Grace Mase 6:04

Wow, and I know you for a couple of years now, and well, you have incredible energy, it's very contagious. But I also love hearing the story behind how you got started. The resilience from all these different challenges along the way, and you find ways to overcome them over and over again. And you found the balance because oftentimes, many people have this perception of it needs to be 50/50. The reality is it isn't 50/50, you just have to do a self-check to figure out what is the right balance where you may be 30/70, or 60/40, whatever that means to you, that makes you happy. And as a result, your family's happy and energizes you as you continue to grow your career and so forth. Also, when you talk about culture, and how you develop a culture, the DNA and the personality is kind of part of who you are to how you ingest into the company. The home building industry and technology hasn't been that close in line for many years, I think according to the US census report since 1964, and so the productivity hasn't been that great. But you can trace back there are certain attributes associated with technology that can impact productivity, can impact relationship building, so forth.

Angela McKay  7:23

Absolutely. And on a note about finding time, and that 50/50 of work-life balance. I'm a firm believer, you have to love what you do. You have to live an integrated life there is really, it's very difficult to have that nine to five job and you know what, let's face it, we need flexibility as women, we need to be able to have the flexibility of putting, picking up our kids when we want to, or when we need to. We want to be able to go to that basketball game. And so that's something that's earned, I do feel that that's something that you earn the right, but employers need to understand that and they need to be flexible, I have had the privilege of working with people that all feel the same way. It does mean that I'm often working in the evening, or I'm working early in the morning, I think when all is said and done, the employer benefits, right, but it's an integrated life.

Grace Mase 8:14

And I kind of wanted to take off a little bit with this concept, personality, we all have different types of personality, and personality influences our behaviors. What is the most interesting or dynamic relationship or personality that have you encountered through the client management part? Don't have to name names, just we'd love to hear your story, and how do you manage those situations?

Angela McKay 8:38

Oh, gosh, so difficult clients. I am so fortunate that we truly do have wonderful, wonderful clients. And the best part is I look at my social media feed and I look at so many of the relationships I have are with our clients and I consider the many to be friends, and that really helps. One of the things that I always try to do is find a connection, there are people that just are not on the same wavelength as you, and that that can be a challenge. You know, I'm fairly outgoing. I'm fairly personable, but that can be overwhelming to people. But what I try to always do is find a connection find out really what it is. Because when they're not being overly friendly, or they're being aggressive, usually there's something really stemming from that. And if I can unravel a little bit, that helps a lot and you find that connection. It could be as simple as just knowing that you both have goofy yellow labs, and we're both dog lovers. You just find that connection with someone and that just goes so far and helps so much and it's silly, and it also sounds basic at the same time but it truly does work.

Grace Mase 9:57

No, that makes complete sense. Finding a common ground so people can relate to each other as a person versus this is a transactional relationship. I think sometime in the residential construction industry, we often just kind of look into, here's your proposal, here's how much you work on, and here's just a transactional relationship. But truly deep down, we all want to be treated as a human being, to be seen, to be heard, to be acknowledged, and to be understood. And that kind of connection you describe, it makes complete sense. In marketing, you often talk about people who make decisions based on their heart, not based on their head. That's awesome. I just love what you did. And I love how you're spearheading and really pushing, being the pioneer, trying to carve this space for us to understand how to use technology, leverage technology to engage with the clients. And it also increased productivity, and also getting teams working well together, and that is really a critical moment in our path in the industry.

Angela McKay  10:55

Well, it's all related, right? It's our CRM technology. It's all about creating relationships. That's why it's customer relationship management. And we talk with our clients regularly about the importance of developing connections.

Grace Mase  11:09

That makes sense. Now talk of a connection. Along the way, have you had experience with other women in the industry supporting you?

Angela McKay 11:18

Oh, my gosh, yes, I have been so fortunate. So about five or six years ago, I was asked to join Professional Women and Building and I jumped right in. I have to say, if there is any recommendation that I have to women entering the industry, it's get involved and get a little outside your comfort zone and join your HPA, join your local PWB, join your local sales and marketing Council. Whatever it is, there are some wonderful, wonderful people that can open up doors and really help you navigate. So that's my big recommendation. I have mentioned part of Lasso's philosophy and our growth, what was really important for us was to develop education for the industry and provide education to the industry. And so along with that vein, I have had the pleasure of developing relationships and friendships with a lot of industry trainers. And that includes Meredith Oliver and Kerry Mulcrone, Carol Morgan, Kimberly Mackey. Oh, gosh, there's so many, so many of them. But those were the key women that really helped me and helped me understand when I have a question and I feel always have a stupid question. I will text Meredith or text Kerry or Carol or Kimberly and just a "Hey, help me out here. What should I do? Or how does this work?" So they are just they've been wonderful to me. They've been incredibly supportive, and I have been really fortunate to be able to call them both friends as well as supporters.

Grace Mase  13:00

Well, I second on the PWB. I just spoke with Bessie the other day, as well as Judy, and be speaking with Darylene, next week, and they were the supporting sisters. They were there for me as well as Kimberley, phenomenal people. I have tremendous respect for them. They're just there to pour their heart out and supporting us and prop the ladder for us to climb. And so I cannot thank enough of PWB for what they have done for the industry.

Angela McKay  13:27

Absolutely, you get out what you put in, Grace, and it is being actively involved and actively engaged. That's my biggest recommendation to people.

Grace Mase  13:39

So I was going to ask you a question, but what would you recommend the younger version of yourself or the younger generation coming into this industry? What would you advise them to do?

Angela McKay  13:50

Oh, gosh, I think, look at yourself the way other people look at you. I think sometimes we are our own worst critics and we lose confidence sometimes as a result. And I'm guilty of that. That may be hard or maybe a surprise to some people, but I feel that everyone has so much to offer. It's just a matter of navigating and figuring out how to present it. And don't be afraid to make the leap. Don't be afraid to get involved. And don't be afraid to make a phone call or reach out to people. I am so thrilled when I get an email or I get a call or text from somebody asking for help or asking for advice. From a career perspective I am so eager and happy to help people. And I think most people are like that. But I think there's a lot of people who afraid to ask. So my big takeaway is don't be afraid to ask for help. I do have a little bit of regret from years ago. I really felt that and this goes back probably about 20 years ago, where I talked about giving up my career, I gave up a pretty senior sales management role because I really felt that I couldn't manage family and career and marriage and have two careers in a household and all of that. And I really hope nowadays, that's changed a little bit. I hope that more women realize that they can have both a career, you know, a great career, a thriving career, and a thriving family and marriage. I think that looking back, that's probably somewhat of regret, I wouldn't be where I am today, I don't think if I hadn't done that path. So I, I'm not going to dwell on that too much, but you can get through it. It's not easy. It's not easy managing your time and such. But there's a really great blogger, and I've mentioned her in the past, Lauren Vanderkam and is a time management expert. She's got young kids, and she is just a fabulous resource. Her books are fantastic on time blocking and time management, and just really being able to have it all, making choices, making priorities, and that's what it's all about.

Grace Mase 16:22

Those are important. Well, thank you for all these inspiring ideas and motivating thoughts to help us continue to elevate each of us and as well as the industry as a whole. And I just wanted for you to talk about ways for people to contact you.

Angela McKay 16:39

Oh, absolutely. The best way is email and it's I am on all of the social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram @ATMcreative. But also check out the Professional Women in Building Facebook group. It's NAHB, Professional Women in Building and I moderate some of the Facebook posts there. And I would love to see more women participate and engage and I look forward to connecting with you.

Grace Mase 17:18

Well, thank you so much, Angela, for all the work you've done and inspiring us, all of us to move forward and help the tribe as a woman in construction continue to thrive.

Angela McKay  17:31

Well, thank you very much for the opportunity, Grace.

Grace Mase  17:34

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Revivify Podcast, and we'll see you next time.