Many would consider software developing a dull career filled with coding, programming, and work deadlines, but they are wrong. Mr. Ben Gallant demonstrates just how wrong. In the following he gives his thoughts as to what it takes to be successful in the modern, technologically-driven workplace. Mr. Gallant currently resides in New Zealand where he works as a technology consultant for his own company; he has experience in management, contracting, and consulting, and he knows a thing or two about being resilient and communicating well within a professional climate. The Burning Glass Data Table will help guide and understand some of the questions in the interview. We will learn more about Mr. Gallant’s professional history, writing/communicating tips as well as the importance of skills in the workplace. We will also learn what skills that Mr. Gallant values and what he believes young professionals should learn before entering the workforce.
- What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?
I started out as a graphic artist and then moved on to be an executive coordinator for an international non-profit organization. I then was hired to manage and grow a few different companies for CEOs where I went on to do project management for software development and technology teams. I’m now doing technology consulting in New Zealand for my own company.
- What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?
You should make sure that your grammar is checked by others if you don’t trust your own writing skills. Find ways to communicate with your stakeholders that connects with the way they communicate. The point of communication is to be understood and to get something accomplished. If they digest bullet points better than large paragraphs, then adjust your writing style accordingly.
- What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
Mixed writing styles.
- What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
Mostly spreadsheets and other forms with KPIs.
- What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?
Keep the most important information clear and concise.
Try to find out what will connect best with the person reading the report and make sure that information is clear. Iterate with newer versions of the report if necessary, after getting feedback.
- What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
Don’t make the mistake of being unprepared and lacking passion. If you know the material, you’ll be able to present it well. If you care about what you’re presenting, you’ll knock it out of the park.
- Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career?
I wish I had some personality training prior. Understanding empathy and developing your EQ is key.
- After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
Some of the skills listed there appear pretty ambiguous (what’s the difference between Analytical Skills and Problem Solving?), so this list should be refined a bit. I was surprised that Leadership and Planning weren’t higher in the list.
- What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
Young professionals need the skill of resilience. There’s something about an employee that just doesn’t give up, no matter what.
I see too, often young people entering the work force and just caving when a problem seems too tough. They ask for help too quickly and don’t try to work through the issue by themselves for a little while. They need to sweat and feel the weight of some hard work.
There are several key takeaways from this interview, such as, Mr. Gallant’s view on personality training, writing advice, knowing where your passions lie, and resilience. All of which translates to success in the workplace when executed well. When asked to name something he wished to have known about sooner about business communication, Mr. Gallant stated how he wished he had some personality training before his professional career. This can be put into practice by becoming more understanding of the people with whom you work; developing empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace. As far as writing advice, Mr. Gallant kept it simple and straightforward, much like a business would like. He recommends avoiding mixed writing styles, for example, knowing when you can use formal and informal language. Additionally, making sure grammar gets checked and proofread by peers. Finding ways of connecting with customers, employees, stakeholders, and others. Last, adjusting your writing style according to how the audience will digest and retain the information
When asked about what speaking advice there was for professional communicators, Mr. Gallant expressed making the mistake of unpreparedness and lacking passion on the subject will prevent you from executing your goals. Thus, if you know the material, it will present well. It’s simple: if you have a passion for what you’re doing, then you will know the material. If you know the material, then it will be effective and successful. Last, the best piece of the interview came from the last question, when asked about what team skills young professionals need the most. This narrowed down to having resilience, and this does not mean just in the workplace. Upon entering the workforce, it becomes more apparent that young workers may give up and accept defeat when a problem becomes too difficult. It is at these difficult times that as an employee you have the opportunity to show your worth by demonstrating resilience.
Ben Gallant received his degree in Information Technology from ITT Technical Institute in 2003. He later received his BS in Business Administration and Management from the University of Southern Indiana in 2015 after transferring classes from Arkansas State University. From 2005-2009 Mr. Gallant worked as the Executive Administrative Coordinator for Campus Outreach in Brazil. There, he coordinated administrative activities for 27 franchises of Campus Outreach around the globe. He also established a system to run each office and shared information to keep the administrative teams on the same page. After his return to the States from Brazil, he had a brief run as Host and Customer Service Specialist at Chick-Fil-A in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Then from November, 2013-December 2015, Mr. Gallant took his experience to Go Mini’s Portable Storage as the Technology Director; handling contracts for software development projects, making technology decisions for the board of directors, managing remote software development teams to build new applications for an international franchise network, and brought a new intranet that maintained compatibility between franchisee and dealer networks of websites and systems. After his stint with Go Mini’s, he decided to take his expertise to SIGMA Equipment as the Software Development Manager from December 2015-2018. At SIGMA he led and maintained software developers through daily coaching, time off requests, one-on-ones, and mentorship. He provided transparency on software projects for employees through the helpdesk and presentations. Mr. Gallant managed three separate teams of software developers, organized projects to meet quarterly deadlines for released products, and presented future projects to shareholders and business owners weekly. He completed several major projects, while at SIGMA. Including, designing and implementing patented software called SIGMA Workspaces to organize work between teams. He helped create SIGMA Recovery, which points out any idle assets (used by Campbells Snacks). Finally, Mr. Gallant designed and implemented an AI-driven Sales App for the SIGMA Sales team and interacts with SIGMA Workspaces. As of December 2018, Mr. Gallant brought his expertise overseas to New Zealand as a self-employed Remote Contractor, where he consults with management on new features and plans of internal software, forms partnerships with external software developers, and supports SIGMA through the helpdesk.
Tyler Hoel is a communications student in the Romain College of Business at the University of Southern Indiana.