Austin Tech World, meet Jim Howard

Natalie Lowe

Jim Howard was recently hired as the first ever Vice President of Operations for TicketCity.com. His interview process is what ignited the inception of a role that never previously existed within the company. Throughout the interview process, Jim initially interviewed for the Vice President of Technology position. But as the interview process progressed and talks with leadership continued, they began to discuss what was truly needed out of such a vital hire, so TicketCity leadership decided on a slightly new position, titled VP of Operations.

When Zach Anderson, TicketCity President, called Jim and approached him with this new role, Jim read through the role and discovered it aligned perfectly with his own personal and professional goals. Jim also mentioned that the uniqueness of the role allowed him to feed off the energy the Chief Energizing Officer brings to the company, the experience of the long-tenured management team and the personal relationship with Matt Justice and Andy Gaken who lead our Development Team at TicketCity.  In short, this hybrid position was so important because technology will continue to dominate all marketing and sales strategies moving forward. There is a heavy demand for segmentation capabilities as customers become more diverse. Because customers are becoming so different, they all expect tailored products and quick solutions. As a member of an upper level management team, there is no doubt that majority of those within your entry and middle level employee segments have grown up in a fully-digital age with an ever-increasing need for speed and easy usage. Jim’s new role provides the ability to allow both of those worlds to seamlessly collide.

We sat down with Jim to hear where his experience has taken him and goals he has for the future.

Question: What are your short-term goals at TicketCity.com?

Answer: Provide stability.  With different people, you get different leadership styles, As I make this transition in, I want to make sure I learn the way people communicate and utilize their strengths to achieve a few things. I’d like to automate some of the existing processes in the technology department and make things quicker and easier for the development team. In addition, I would like to refine a few processes, making it faster and easier for us bring in new hires, automating tech processes to make things calmer for the development team. Another short-term is goal is to look at how we take technology and make sure this spills into other departments of the company with automation so there is more accountability and departments, like Customer Service can solve problems and communicate with us in a fluid environment.

Question: As a new and uniquely designed hire in upper management, the idea is for you to broker the complex relationship between business leaders and the IT department. What are some ways you plan to do this?

Answer: At this point in life, most kids will grow up with tablets and find a way to receive communication through digital outlets, tablets and the internet. So, it’s important to point out that every single person communicates in a different way. So, the main way to achieve this success is through finding the communication style that fits those I work with best.

Some people like email, some like Slack and some like in person conversations. Our customers are the same way. Some like the app and want to do everything quickly, easily and online. If they want to communicate, it might only be through an online chat outlet. Whereas some people would love to have the phone call and personal touch of a traditional sales representative.  

What is your favorite thing about TicketCity so far?

The Mezzanine common space. Not all companies invite people into a common area to interact, across departments. In large companies, you are with your own department and don’t see the whole picture. Interaction between the company in increasingly important to everyone in a business.

How have you prepared yourself through your career as you’ve grown and received promotions?

In previous role, that was my first executive role, and at times, you need to step away from day-to-day and look more at strategy. You can’t be down in the weeds writing codes, you need to be able to delegate to your team and trust them to complete the task.

Recently, I went through a 4-week MBA webinar in the gap between jobs. I could pause and look at how businesses operate, viewing different tools, seeing how leadership affects a workplace.

Realized I had little experience as an executive, and a lot in other places but as I took on this position, I had to step away and make sure I took all of that and applied it to TicketCity.

What abilities should young would-be executives focus on developing as they choose companies, functions, and jobs?

The biggest thing to focus on is being able to understand someone’s perspective and have empathy for why someone feels or thinks the way they do. As technology changes, you fundamentally change the way people work. Through this, you can find what technology will help a specific person get the most amount of work done. How can this help me versus how is this a threat to me?

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