[Buzzvil People] Simon Lee, Sales Strategy & Operation Manager

Buzzvil People took the opportunity to introduce each Buzzvillians with a variety of backgrounds, personality, and thoughts. If you are wondering how best colleagues in Buzzvil are gathering to create the best team, if you are curious about each of the colorful Buzzvillians, please pay attention to Buzzvil People.

1.Please give us a quick introduction of yourself.

Hello, my name is Sun Min, Lee and I also go by Simon Lee. I recently got married with Kyung Ah, Choi (Caitlyn), who plans and publishes the [Buzzvil People], which you are presently looking at, with blessings from both sides of the family and formed a family.

As my colleagues know me very well, I have a very cool personality unlike my serious face. I am supporting Buzzvil’s third-rate culture by making “dad” jokes being trending across the company, which used to be secretly shared by only few number of people. Ben is Buzzvil’s software engineer and I nicknamed his wife “Venture”, which sounds same as Ben妻(Chinese character meaning “wife”). I was told that she loved her new nickname and I am really grateful for that. Although I might say many silly stuffs, I value genuine friendship with a few people more than casual acquaintance with many others and I am having a very happy work life in Buzzvil.

As I grew up, I had tended to follow my heart rather than my head. It is because that I found out that I had less regret but more courage to accept consequences and take a responsibility of my own actions when I did them following my heart. I went to college a little longer than usual people. During the first half of my college years, I took business lectures following my head but, during the second half, I spent a considerable amount of time living in France as I was deeply into the French literature with all my heart.

By living a heart guided life, it took me very long time to find a company/team that could inspire me to work with all my heart. And then in 2013, I came across the team that had a vision to incorporate IDEO, the company that I had longed to work for, in Asia region. It was the brand communication & design studio that I have been with from the beginning of the project and feeling a sense of accomplishment after contributing to creating team’s groundbreaking work (The winner of IF Design Award two years later) helped me set overall direction of my future career. I want to work with people whom I can share my dream with and make meaningful outcomes.

2. What brings you to Buzzvil?

I applied for the position that I am currently holding in Buzzvil because I was confident that it would be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. It’s been two years since I joined the Buzzvil.

Before joining Buzzvil, I was in charge of planning job in the company involved with the distribution of duty-free goods. But, soon after, I quit the company despite the fact that I had a decent understanding of the relevant business because of my long-standing interest in the fashion industry. While I was preparing to start the business in prior to quitting my former job, I felt the strong urge to work at the company whose size is small but gradually making a progress towards its goal. In that way, I thought I could avoid a trial and error that otherwise could have been caused by my lack of experience and immaturity. I had knocked doors of many small/start-up businesses for 50 days in search of the company running a team that is capable of embodying a goal that could seem unclear at the early stage.

In the meantime, one of my college seniors introduced me Mr. Dae Yoon Kim, the representative of “People Fund”, FinTech Start-up company, whom I received mentoring from. Mr. Kim’s wife happened to be a Softbank’s investment appraiser and I got an opportunity to turn in my resume to Buzzvil, one of companies in her portfolio, through her. Then, my resume was forwarded to John, CEO of Buzzvil, and David, one of my college seniors who was already “sweating” at Buzzvil, reached out to me to discuss this potential job opportunity. After talking to him about the industry to which Buzzvil belongs and its workforce organization, I applied for the company with the strong confidence that the company meets my personal career criteria that I mentioned in the above. I had a 1st round of interview in the morning and 2nd one in the afternoon at the very same day. Even though I don’t perfectly recall specific interview questions and answers exchanged during the interview process, I still have this vivid memory that Young (CEO of Buzzvil), who is now my fan, slightly shook his head and said “I think this guy is a bit crazy.”

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all the representatives who haven’t passed by my cold e-mails/calls during the busy hours and have carefully listened to me, human resource managers, and Yoon Jung Jin, the investment appraiser in “Softbank Ventures” who recommended me to Buzzvil.

**3. What is your role at Buzzvil?**

I am in charge of the business strategy and operation in advertising sales team. Since I don’t have a predetermined set of job responsibilities, I have to set my own job criteria to motivate myself. During the performance of my work, my goal is to meet the satisfaction of both internal clients, who are our sales team members, and external clients, who are advertisers.

To give you a little more explanation, I work with my teammates to develop advertising products and improve the efficiency of advertisements so that advertisers can achieve the best marketing results with buzz screen products. We also combine post-sales feedback received from clients with new ideas that appear in the global mobile advertising industry to introduce the new product to the market in collaboration with the product team.

I have recently focused more on meeting the needs of internal clients (sales team members.) I am doing everything I can to help our sales managers perform sales activities in an aggressive manner. My work is generally classified into three areas: 1) Data management, 2) Optimization of sales team resources, and 3) Policy development.

Let me briefly explain each category of my work as follows: 1) I provide sales data that I manage and process through the utilization of sales data management tool that was built in 2016 by spending a substantial amount of time during that year. I share certain figures with teammates to help them make decisions on where we should target to improve our sales, which sales channels have problems, and what we need to do to increase the probability of success for landing new clients. 2) The inherent nature of start-up business can sometimes make it difficult for us to reach the goal without staying focused. I develop an alternative way to work that can reduce inefficiency derived from repetitive tasks, a byproduct of the work with the complicated nature and think about ways to enable the whole team to work smarter. There needs to be a minimum degree of ground rule in place so sales managers selling identical buzz-screen product can perform sales activities uninterruptedly and leverage their personal strengths. I carefully listen to team member’s requirements that keep changing over the evolving sales environment. Then, I adopt them in developing team operating policies

4. How does it feel to work at a startup? or advertising industry?

Two things that I learn every day are that “the more I try, the higher probability of success I can have.” and “everything changes.”

Following the word of advice from author Kazuo Inamori, I sit at my desk telling myself every morning that “Let’s do this a little better than yesterday”. Equipped with the belief that I/we can do better than now, we select areas that need to be developed and then turn them into personal assignments. (Buzzvil encourages its members to set up personal assignments on their own initiative and make a progress. Isn’t it cool?) When designing the sales data management tool, I wanted to improve work efficiency by minimizing the number of data input of sales managers, the actual users of the tool, at the same time maintaining the same appearance of UI. In order to do so, I touched all of the sandbox logics but I kept failing to come up with the expected output as matters such as priority between logics and multiple ternary operator began messing with my head. After a couple of weeks of making numerous attempts, I finally came up with a master code that simplifies the problem and I was so excited by the fact that I got the wanted outcome that I mistakenly sent an instant message to John saying “I made it!!”, which I meant to send Caitlyn who was my girlfriend at that moment.When I am certain that there must be a better outcome but doesn’t know how to get there, I simply try as many times as possible. 

Along with having a flexibility on how we get our job done, a rapidly changing business environment (i.e the digital advertising market for sales teams) stimulate changes in almost every aspect. To keep up with advertiser’s KPI evolving day by day, the Buzzvil sales team is trying to make quick decisions in most aspects of our Ad products and policies. It is not the rare situation in which the answer that seemed right yesterday becomes less appealing today. Though it might come as a disappointment, I think it is important not to be discouraged by such a situation and learn to move on in search of better answers. The above mentioned master code has now been replaced by another one.

I later found out that I was lucky to be part of Buzzvil, the company that I chose to work for after long contemplation, since the fact the company belongs to the advertising industry (or the ad tech industry) has offered me a lot of opportunities to learn. To be honest, the thought that I couldn’t shake off until I had the interview was “I am neither interested in nor attracted to lock screen advertising” But, after I came to work here, I realized that there are a lot more valuable things that I can experience than I initially thought: the mobile advertising world beyond the lock screen advertising, the digital advertising world beyond mobile advertising, and the IT industry beyond digital advertising. It is really exciting.

Taking one example, I believe that the proposal any colleague students could make when they were working on IT related college projects was that “we plan to build the revenue stream model based on advertising” I once thought that it could be a very easy thing to do just like they said. The reason why most of the Internet services are offered to the users for free is because there are many companies willing to pay for advertising spaces that can easily grab our attentions, and this is undoubtedly one of many business models adopted by IT/Media companies. However, I feel the strong need to establish our own business model by having witnessed 1) advertisers evolving day by day and 2) media monopoly (FB & Google). Getting paid by advertising? It is certainly not easy money.

5. Is there something that you can say “this is the best part being Buzzvillians”?

I would say that the corporate environment that encourages amateurs to make challenges without the fear of failure and colleagues equipped with amateur mindset.

As mentioned above, many Buzzvillians including myself don’t join Buzzvil as being an expert on his assigned position. So, when they try to accomplish something, it is inevitable for them to go through many number of trial and error processes and this is, in fact, highly encouraged by Buzzvil culture. Since there is no predetermined set of job responsibilities as I mentioned before, they are forced to go through the process of applying what they studied to their work and adjusting them based on their peer/client feedbacks. It might seem ineffective at a quick glance as it takes longer than usual but I think that the process itself is one of our most valuable assets as it can bring the confidence to the individual, and at the same time experience points to the team.

[Conversation between author and CEO, “Buzzvil Redemption”, 2016]

There are not many people who specialized in advertising sales when they came in. A lot of people encountered challenges because they didn’t choose to take the generally accepted career path of advertising sales but there are those who set the long-term goals to win the business of important potential advertisers and successfully turn that potential into the significant revenue stream. On one occasion, one of teammates in the strategy team who looks like Goliath jumped around and entertained the whole office yelling that he made it through a lot of failures of coding complicated data queries.

What makes us outstanding is that even though these amateurs have become experts in their fields of work, they still work ‘hard’ with the mindset of amateur. They always try to find new ways to solve the same problem, automate repetitive tasks, share their personal experiences of a trial and error with others, and educate their colleagues on what they’ve learned. In this way, Buzzvil is getting stronger day by day.

6. Do you have a personal goal or dream? If so, how does your experience at Buzzvil help you?

My personal goal is to run fashion commerce business one day. I know for certain that there is room for improvement for some parts of the value chain in today’s fashion industry. Some of the experience at Buzzvil will certainly directly/critically help me with the next step of my personal goal. But, when I thought about it, I felt rushed because it seemed like I was missing an opportunity to learn technicalities that I can really use and get the necessary experience. So I changed my mind and started being more conscious about the work attitude I would like to have during my whole career rather than a technical edge. I have this belief that I can get through anything under any circumstance if I only stand right. I am under a great deal of stress every day for turning my thoughts into habits but I believe that this is meaningful process. I talk to my wife half-jokingly that “One needs to train his body and soul to bring a peace to home and rule the world.” I want to train my body and soul at Buzvil. (Of course, I would never neglect to bring the excellent job performance..)

I really like a few phrases excerpted from Inamori Kazuo’s books that I am deeply into. I want to do my best when I am in the middle of the sumo ring rather than it is too late to do my best after I am pushed to the edge of the ring. I am greatly inspired by Buzzvillians putting all of their efforts into their works. I want to thank Buzzvil for giving me a chance to think about what kind of mindset I should have in my career.

``We are hiring!`` Buzzvil is finding a serious and self-colored person like Simon! (Direct Link)

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