Regaining consciousness was hard. Doing it while being sucker punched was even worse.

“Wake up!” Tiny Bighouse slapped my face for good measure. Then someone threw water on me. Really, I prefer my baths alone.

I forced my eyes open enough to see an expensive black dinner jacket over a white tuxedo shirt. The bowtie was gold. I was in worse trouble than I thought.

“I’m disappointed in you,” the suit said. “You promised to solve my little problem.”

I spat. It tasted like copper. “Blame your thugs, Rizzo. I was almost there when they abducted me. I need more time.”

Tiny moved in with a punch while his boss backed up, delicately dabbing at the drops of blood on his pretty white shirt. “I don’t want excuses. I want results. And you’ll deliver results – or Tiny here will start taking fingers.”

Okay, so they’re not detectives, and certainly, our customers don’t hire thugs to beat people up, but our sales engineers are excellent at sniffing out mysteries and solving problems – big and small. To learn more about our digital detectives, this month, we talk to Wayne Burrows.

Wayne comes to Newscycle from Media Services Group, which we acquired in February 2018. He’s not a sales engineer, but rather the senior implementation specialist for the Elan publishing platforms and is the person they call in when the customer has an issue that isn’t customer-support-related, and to help the customer leverage the software for optimal use.

Newscycle: Tell us a little about yourself: I was born in South Africa at a time when it was not unusual for government thugs to beat people up. I moved to New York to go to graduate school and then went on to a career in social work. The unexpected plot twist came with a temp job after a move to Los Angeles. What was meant to be a short-term pause while looking for another social work gig turned into a passion for the publishing industry. I’ve worked at a trade show company, a business-to-business publisher and now am happily working with many different publishers.

Newscycle: What you do for the customer? My main job is to implement our software, though I also help with sales and training. I’m the one who goes to the customers and compares their business processes to the software and figures out how to reconcile the two. I help encourage process changes where we can streamline tasks, and advocate for the customer with programming when system enhancements are needed.

Newscycle: How has MSG joining Newscycle affected your job? The best change for me has been meeting the Newscycle staff. Everyone with whom I have interacted has displayed a wonderful combination of kindness and intelligence. No thugs or gangsters here. So far, I am still focused on implementing the Elan suite of products, but I am really looking forward to learning more about the other Newscycle products and hopefully having a chance to work with other parts of the portfolio.

Newscycle: Which product is your favorite and why? I am passionate about the CRM module for many reasons. My background before coming to MSG/Newscycle was in sales, so I am personally familiar with the business processes supported by the module. I was a user of the first version of the CRM tool, and as a customer I had the opportunity to contribute suggestions to the design of the system so it is “my baby.” The sales process does not easily lend itself to automation, and the typical salesperson needs a tool that does not take up time or distract them from the sale. I love the challenge of helping design a tool that is easy to use and still powerful, and I love the challenge of implementing CRM and convincing reps that our system offers enough advantages to make the work process change worth the effort.

Newscycle: What do you enjoy the most about your job? I guess I’m still a social worker at heart. I love feeling that I have helped make a difference. The greatest reward for me is going to a customer, battling with a tough problem or unusual business need and helping implement the software in such a way that we improve people’s jobs and help businesses run more efficiently. We are also extremely fortunate in having a great customer base. Implementations are stressful, and often that pressure helps forge strong friendships between the members of the implementation team. I love being able to revisit customers that I have known for a while and enjoy our annual user group as an opportunity to catch up with friends.

Newscycle: Have you ever had a work-related mystery which has – figuratively – kicked your butt? Many years ago, as digital advertising was emerging we started to develop a digital module. There were few other products paving the way, and we were not sure what our customers would need. We hosted a think-tank session with a group of our customers, so that we could get their design input. Jeff Shine and I carefully prepared a list of questions and before the seminar started we were pretty sure that from our research we already had the basic design in mind. I asked the opening question along the lines of “Do you do A or do you do B” a chorus of “YES” came back from the audience. It was a tough introduction to digital advertising. For all publishers, adding other delivery methods alongside print is a challenge; supporting that is not simple. The digital business is evolving quickly and in so many different directions. I am always learning in this area, often with that sense of an unexpected sucker punch and a rough regaining of consciousness.

Newscycle: What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever given or received? Oh, perfect timing on this question. I’m answering these questions while I wait for a meeting to start at a client in the UK. They are in the countryside outside of London, and as I was on the train heading to them I received this text from the customer with a wonderful excuse for why our meeting would have to start late: “Rather (un)amusingly I have a bloody Wood Pigeon stuck in my chimney that I need to get out. I’m hoping that that the RSPCA will respond rapidly post 8am but I may be a little late. Hardly ideal given we have the intense challenge of Digital set up today but there is little I can do …” Even Tiny Bighouse would have to chuckle at that excuse.