Welcome back to our Employee Spotlight series, where we highlight members of the Tonkean team who exemplify the unique spirit of our company. This week, we’re spotlighting Rory O’Brien, our Head of Solutions. Proud father of two senior dogs and a former professional competitive gamer(!), Rory O’Brien is a marvel. A great leader and an operations wizard, he works tirelessly every day to solve users’ thorniest operational problems and to in turn show them what’s truly possible with software. Here’s how Rory O’Brien does it, along with what brought him to this work.
Rory O’Brien: What brought you to Tonkean? (What’s your story?)
After having an unsuccessful startup story, followed by a successful exit, I then joined an old colleague building a boutique sales + marketing ops agency. After that foray into the SaaS services industry, I had two ideal paths: work for an early stage SaaS company in the Ops space, or jump back into esports (I was a “professional” competitive gamer back in the day, and just seeing how much that space has grown has me feeling lots of FOMO). I had three different offers, but after two conversations with Sagi [Tonkean’s CEO], it was obvious that Tonkean was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Describe the work you do at Tonkean in a few sentences. (What’s a typical day like on the Solutions team?)
We solve complex business problems by bringing them to life in Tonkean. There’s no shortage of pain in a knowledge worker’s life, and my team exists to be a kind of “automation Doctor” who prescribes the right prescription(s) to cure their ailments. Our typical day is spent discovering root causes of this pain, showcasing the “Tonkean way” of alleviating it, and empowering our prospects and customers to go and triage their coworkers’ woes.
Tonkean was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Which Tonkean Core Value do you identify with most? Why?
Combining “No BS” with “Think People-First.” As the technical champion for our clients, it’s really the Solution team’s job to be completely transparent on the art of the possible, as well as provide tangible value to our clients. We’re selling software, which can be a bit of a noisy Blackbox. What’s sometimes lost in the process are the actual humans who use software. They’ve got goals, feelings, and pressure in their own right, and no one has time for excess BS in their life. If we’re not saving people time, money, and increasing overall happiness for the human’s purchasing our software, what are we actually doing?
What’s your favorite part of working at Tonkean?
Independent freedom of thought and ownership, combined with an unhuman-like R&D team. Tonkean cares less about input than outcomes. This is the best way to manage humans, in my opinion. If you can’t trust who you hired, why’d you hire them? Tonkean’s management team has been great about accepting all ideas. And the “north star” for progress as a company is continual learnings from our efforts.
Our development/R&D team is just unreal. They work crazy hours and field all the requests from our team, and our customers, with grace and patience that I just haven’t seen in my 10+ years working in tech. It’s a bar set so high I’ll be wildly impressed if I ever work with a team at their level again in my life.
What makes Tonkean’s platform different/special?
The freedom and ability it provides users to do nearly anything. Sure, we help companies’ Legal teams triage their many inboxes. We help HR + IT teams provision/deprovision employees. And we provide chatbot capabilities to customer support teams. But did you know that we built an actual Fantasy Football-like draft for our sales team to divvy up our accounts in Salesforce with Tonkean? Or a notification system that our team used to track when PS5’s became available to purchase at retailers in an attempt to beat the system? Did you know that I have an actual personal CRM configured in Tonkean that legitimately helps me be a better friend? It’s quite silly how much is possible in Tonkean and we’ve only just begun.
Did you know that we built an actual Fantasy Football-like draft for our sales team to divvy up our Accounts in Salesforce with Tonkean?
What do you foresee in our future?
We’re a few years ahead of the market and what we’re doing is still a bit “out there” for some folks to really comprehend. Screen scraping has been around for nearly two decades, and the first API was built in like 2004, yet most buyers in the market still see RPA/iPaaS solutions as the cutting edge technology. They just don’t really know what’s possible yet, and it’s not their fault. Once everyone sees, and more importantly feels, what’s possible in terms of holistic business process design with Tonkean…it’s going to be wild.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Spoil my two senior dogs, play soccer, basketball, and golf (all three of these, not nearly enough). Like most folks, Twitter and Netflix have done a fantastic job of rewiring my brain into needing their constant dopamine hits to my system. I also consider myself a below-average amateur wine connoisseur, but a professional wine drinker.
Describe the Solutions squad!
Professional problem solvers and software automation artists. We talk with every single business unit in every single industry (our ICP doesn’t discriminate) and with that comes a complete smorgasbord of business problems we try to solve. Benny on our team put it nicely: “I wake up every morning and just solve puzzles.”
Why do I say we’re artists? Because the Tonkean platform is an actual blank palette, just waiting to be painted with whatever grandiose solution you can dream of. There are 30 different ways to solve a problem, and it’s up to us and our creativity to make automation-art happen in the workflow builder. I don’t think it gets talked about enough, on the creative side of things, for an engineer/solution architect to step back, look at their code/automation and just take pride in the beauty of what they were able to create, much like someone who just created a beautiful painting.