Employee Spotlight: Ian Woodward, Yacht Rock Enthusiast
WordStream has some impressive employees in our ranks: from industry influencers to marathon runners, from analysts to authors. The Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the talented individuals who work here. Each month, we’ll be featuring an interview here on the blog and on our social accounts.
For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we’re featuring Ian Woodward, who’s been at WordStream for about five years. He was also the inaugural Employee of the Year at our first Core Value Awards. We talked with Ian about why he wanted to join WordStream’s sales team, his Yacht Rock playlist, the new brewery across the street from his apartment, and more!
What’s your position at WordStream?
My current title is senior manager of sales operations, but what I do has definitely evolved over time. When I first started, I was a member of the sales team for about a year and a half before moving over to a sales enablement role. That job required me to provide general sales training to the floor and onboarding for all new hires on the team. My responsibilities have since grown to include maintaining all of our sales technical systems and managing a team dedicated to sales support, as well. Operations can be pretty broad and luckily that's allowed my projects to be wide-ranging, which is definitely a perk.
How did you hear about WordStream? Why did you want to work here?
How I came to WordStream is a lot different from how we hire now. I was actually working with an outside recruiter who had successfully placed two of my roommates, so I knew she had a good track record. When I interviewed at WordStream, I really liked the team I met and was impressed by how much emphasis there was around internal growth and promotion. The major thing that attracted me initially about the sales process was that it offered the opportunity to work with so many different small and medium-sized businesses, which never gets boring.
WordStream's sales team at last year's holiday party.
What’s your favorite thing about working at WordStream?
How easy it is to find new challenges. On the sales team, that could be joining one of our departmental cross-functional teams to help shape the future of our product or contributing to our growing library of training collateral for newer members.
On my team, I make sure that the folks working for me always have the opportunity to branch out and explore other responsibilities. My approach is to make sure their day-to-day responsibilities are handled, and then do my best to find new and interesting connections for them throughout the company.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on here at WordStream?
My personal favorite project was helping start WordStream’s sales development team. Sales development representatives (SDRs) are fairly common for companies our size so we were definitely a bit behind the curve in standing a team up. The goal of that team is solely to reach out to new people and schedule meetings for the rest of our sales organization, who would then own that relationship going forward.
For the first six months, I was also the manager of that team which required learning a ton of new skills such as figuring out the requirements for the role, actually hiring the first four SDRs, and developing appropriate goals and targets for them. It was challenging, but it was really interesting, as well. By the time the team was in a position to grow much bigger, it was obvious that it needed a full-time manager so Alex Stang came in (hired internally, of course), and he's had incredible success. I’m proud of laying the groundwork for that team, and I consider it a highly valuable learning experience.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned on the job?
Outside of understanding all of the different systems we use, the best thing that I've learned is how to run or attend internal meetings efficiently. In some ways it’s similar to what I had to do in sales: setting an agenda, potentially overcoming objections, and—most importantly—being thoroughly prepared. A perfect example is this employee spotlight; I spent some time reading previous interviews and trying to come up with good answers to the common questions ahead of time. There's a whole skillset I’ve had to develop in understanding what’s going to make a meeting the most productive for each attendee.
Anything you’re listening to on your commutes now? Go to-podcast, playlist, or audio book?
I've started getting into podcasts recently, and one that comes to mind is Pod Save the World. I didn’t have too much familiarity with U.S. foreign policy or diplomacy before listening, but the hosts do a great job of presenting the information relatably. And since there’s a new episode every week, it’s always relevant.
You need to put your head down and get some work done asap. Do you have a go-to song?
I’m usually “headphones out” at work—too many people stop by my desk throughout the day to fully disconnect. But when there's the off-chance that I need to do some writing or Powerpointing, my go-to playlist on Spotify is called Yacht Rock. Check it out; it’s super positive, every song is a classic, and the music is never distracting.
What’s your workspace aesthetic like? Minimalist? Homey? Neat?
Pretty minimalist. I've got a few personal items on there and a couple of photos, but I try to keep it free of papers or the like. I read an article about the Audi U.S. headquarters and how they’d make sure employees left their desk surface clutter-free before the end of every day. While I’m not quite that militant, I do like starting each morning fresh. Realistically, though, on any given day I’m only at my desk for a couple hours, so anything I need, I’ll take with me.
If WordStream announced a last-minute day off for tomorrow, what would you do with your suddenly free day?
First thing I’d do is try to figure out why, because if something internal is broken, I’m probably not going to be off the hook. But if everything's fine and I really do have the day off, it would depend on the day … My fiancée works at Boston Children’s Hospital and has every Wednesday off. If that were the case, we’d head out to a brewery for the day. The Trillium taproom in Fenway just opened near our apartment, and I’ve always had a great time there.
What’s your go-to lunch?
My go-to lunch is typically leftovers, which is about the most boring possible answer. If I want something a little bit more exciting, I’ll get a Harvest Bowl from sweetgreen.
What’s one skill outside of work that you want to learn or get better at?
I just started playing squash, and I’ve still got a long long long way to go.
What is your best way to relax when you get home from work or the first thing to do when you get home to decompress?
Changing out of my work clothes definitely helps signal the end of the work day. I'm also very fortunate that my fiancée typically gets home before me. Because of that, we’ve got a good system figured out—she’ll cook and I'll clean—so I’m usually having dinner right when I get home.
What's the first application you open on your computer when you get to work?
It’s a three-way tie between Slack, Outlook, and Salesforce or whichever has the earliest notification.
What’s one product or service you wish you had an unlimited supply of at your desk?
Rold Gold honey wheat braided pretzels. I could eat a bag by myself in an embarrassingly short amount of time
What was the last TV show you've binge watched?
I’m in the middle of watching “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+. It’s funny because I typically put on “The Today Show” in the morning when getting ready so seeing a dramatized version of a show I know well is pretty interesting. You can definitely tell where some of the inspiration for the fictional characters and storylines came from.
If you didn’t work in digital marketing, what would you want to do?
I've been getting much more interested in being more environmentally conscious, so I’d potentially join or support one of the great sustainability initiatives in Boston.
I’m not positive what form it would take—could be composting, could be recycling, or could be working for a green energy company—but something dedicated to sustainability.