ITA Spotlight: Tim Monner, Director of Marketing & Sales, Steadfast
Friday, May 10, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Tim Monner, Director of Marketing and Sales, Steadfast | @tim_monner
Growing up in the Quad Cities, Technology Marketing Director, Tim Monner, had his head in the clouds, dreaming of being a songwriter. Today he uses his creativity to drive “actual” clouds and technology services in Chicago.
Chicagoan by birth or relocation?
I was born in Davenport, Iowa and raised in Moline, Illinois. Being a stereotypical Quad Cities native, my father worked for John Deere as a manufacturing engineer, I was raised on Happy Joe’s taco pizza, and our leisure time was spent on or near the Mississippi River.
If you relocated, what brought you to Chicago?
A career in Marketing. In the Quad Cities, corporate marketing jobs were far and few between with an overwhelming number of candidates for every position that came available. At that time, there were also very few innovative “Technology” jobs available there that grabbed my interest. An insurance software company in the south suburbs, Applied Systems, came calling and gave me shot at a marketing production supervisor role…and I started a new chapter in my life.
How did you come to work with Steadfast?
Simply put, I received a call from a close associate that I had worked with at another managed IT infrastructure/colocation company in downtown Chicago. We were part of a team that worked to reposition that business for market growth and he told me his new employer, Steadfast, had similar plans. He asked me to come in and speak with Karl Zimmerman, the owner of Steadfast. After hearing Karl’s vision for Steadfast and how he wanted to propel the company forward, I immediately wanted to be part of that journey.
What about Steadfast was appealing?
Steadfast had almost 20 years of established success in the IT infrastructure market. But they were looking to make some significant changes in their focus to ensure success moving forward. This meant a lot of work in brand marketing, new market positioning, reshaping sales operations, etc. These challenges and the opportunity to drive monumental shifts in an organization is what excites me most about working in this ever-changing IT industry.
What other roles have you held in the industry?
How did they lead you to where you are now? I have been fortunate enough to hold various roles that have given me a broad spectrum of marketing and sales within the IT industry. Like most, I started out in basic marketing communication (marcom) and content marketing roles. This led into more in-depth analyst product marketing positions where I executed strategic go-to-market plans for IT product and service rollouts at a global level. Eventually, I was able to take this unique blend of experience into leadership roles, where I applied my knowledge to building strategic marketing teams, programs, and operations.
Out of all the positions you've held, which one is the most interesting?
Each of the positions I have had have added a new twist to my experience and have worked well to complement one another. Working for larger corporations like Panduit Corp. gave me experience in supporting global sales and marketing teams, exposure to innovative processes, working relationships with industry-leading technology partners, and access to first-class leadership training opportunities. The knowledge and opportunities gained there are invaluable. However, working at smaller companies like Steadfast offers me a more hands-on opportunity to do a lot more of the direct testing and execution that makes marketing exciting, as well as a greater opportunity to know customers directly and understand their challenges first-hand.
What do you like most about what you do?
I love using the creative right side of my brain to find answers and solutions to the logical and digital problems being pondered on the left side of my brain. The role of marketing carries the responsibilities of developing creative visuals, content, and more, but is also expected to perform very analytical functions such as lead metrics tracking, reporting, audience segmentation and profiling, etc. I enjoy taking a creative approach to not only find new and unique ways to address the analytics but use that same creativity to be able to communicate how my team is going to resolve those challenges.
Which achievement at Steadfast are you most proud of?
At Steadfast, I am proud of the work that has been done to reshape their brand, their marketing programs and their sales organization to help position them for future growth. I have, obviously, not done this on my own. But it is fulfilling to see the Steadfast brand continue to grow in recognition amongst our customers, partners, and the industry in general. A couple of months ago, one of our IT sales reps was approached at an airport in Fort Lauderdale because he saw the Steadfast logo on the reps’ backpack and wanted to let our rep know that he was excited to come see him speak at a conference that week. As simple as that sounds, to someone who is trying to establish brand recognition, that is pure gold.
What’s your outlook on the local tech industry?
I am very enthusiastic about how Chicago embraces technology. In my career, I have had the privilege to work with individuals and groups from the Illinois Technology Association (ITA), 1871, Hyde Park Angels, SBAC, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and many more. All these groups offer so many programs and advantages for technology companies, that it is almost overwhelming. In my opinion, this is only the start. What I am excited to see is the attention that that the technology industry is getting from elected officials in Illinois and Chicago. Some of these new leaders not only have a committed desire to push technology to the forefront of business development, but come from technology backgrounds in some form, giving them a personal perspective on this issue, rather than just a speaking point.
What did you want to be when you were in kindergarten?
Clearly influenced by Smokey and the Bandit movies (and showing my age), my greatest desire in kindergarten was to drive a semi-truck with a dog riding shotgun. Seemed every movie and TV show at that time had adventure seeking semi-truck drives on adventures. That may explain my fascination with the I-80 Walcott truck stop close to home back in Iowa.
What is the hardest challenge that you’ve faced on your professional journey?
I think trying to maintain a good professional and family life balance. I am very driven person who tends to push myself unreasonable at times. But when my first child was born, he had some medical complications that made me pause and realize that being a father is most important role I have. I have been fortunate to have built an amazing career with some truly great companies. However, I am also fortunate to have an amazing family. I am thankful that I have been able to find the right balance to grow my career and still be extremely active in all my children's lives.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
"Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” - Yoda, Empire Strikes Back. I am a huge Star Wars nerd.
What success are you most proud of?
While I have had many achievements that I am proud of, I do like to recall my time at Panduit Corp. where I supported their global data center marketing teams. When I was first brought into Panduit, I was given the task of rolling out their first proprietary data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software offering. Over my years at Panduit, I was able to grow that offering into a complete DCIM portfolio of successful intelligent hardware, software, and services that has become a leading market solution, used by fortune 100 companies and recognized on Gartner’s DCIM magic quadrant reports every year. It’s extremely rewarding to have helped bring something new to the market that is making a real difference in how companies operate their data centers more efficiently.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I had a director early in my career who showed me that you do not have to “push” your employees by intimidation. If put in the hard work with them, listen to their ideas, and share the team’s wins over your own, you will earn their respect and those employees will climb mountains for you without hesitation. I believe in this approach and have found success following his lead years later.
What is the one thing that keeps you up at night?
Keeping up with new and evolving technology options. Keeping up with the pace of new apps, programs, and social media options being introduced can be exhausting. More so, all these new technology options are increasingly focused on a very specific audience. This is great if you are tying your brand to a very defined target market. But if you offer services that cover several vertical markets or audiences, trying to maintain a presence on all these different options can be difficult to manage. It’s exciting to see how developers are building very specific community tools. But as a marketer, it can be challenging to keep up-to-date on everything.
What kind of technology could you not live without?
Mobile technologies continue to be critical to everything I do. My phone is my portal to my professional and personal communications, my organization and productivity, and even my leisure in downtime. We do still try to enforce a zero phone, tablet, or device rule every night at dinner so that our children learn to appreciate the lost art of face-to-face conversations and discussion.
What is the coolest thing you’ve developed or project you’ve worked on?
I once worked on a development team for an enterprise cloud platform that utilized a very intuitive WYSIWYG interface to quickly spin up cloud instances cleanly and easily. The experience of bringing a creative design approach into an otherwise bland software interface was really satisfying served well to both grab customers attention and make their cloud spin-up tasks more streamlined.
If money was no object, what would your dream job be?
I would be a professional songwriter. As a teenager, I was fortunate to be in a group that wrote and recorded songs that got some minor airplay. The experience of playing live was always thrilling, but it was the writing and recording in the studio that I found my most fulfillment. Creating music is timeless and something that I would very much like to commit to again when the time is right.