This week, our Operations Manager Jalle Islamovic celebrated a milestone 9 years at GRM Digital! We took the opportunity to catch up with Jalle to find out more about his role at GRM, how the agency has changed over the past 9 years and plans for the future…
How did you get into the world of web development and digital marketing?
It all started whilst I was undertaking a leadership course at University in Sweden. During the course, a colleague and I were asked to perform a mock interview with the manager of a large company. Incidentally, the interviewee was Nej Gakenyi, (GRM Digital CEO) who at the time was working at Ektron as a Sales Director. Little did I know that my mock interview would lead me to where I am now! Speaking to Nej about Ektron CMS was a real eye-opener, and that was what ignited my interest in web development and digital marketing. I stayed in contact with Nej following the course, and in 2010 he offered me the chance to move to the UK and challenge myself within the newly founded Green River Media (now GRM Digital).
You officially hold the most previous job titles at GRM Digital! How has your role evolved into Operations Manager?
I think this is my 6th role at GRM Digital now! Since my start more than 9 years ago, I’ve been involved in most parts of the business, from Quality Assurance through to Operations.
My first role at GRM was as a Quality Assurance Engineer (QA). This was the role that taught me the foundations of what web development and digital marketing is. It was also one of my most challenging roles, as you are tasked with being the final person to inspect a project before handing over to the client. Naturally, there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability to make sure that projects are meeting the agreed expectations. Throughout any of our projects, quality is always the main objective and if there is anything during the project that can be optimised, the QA engineer will usually be the first one to bring this to attention. So, in one way it was my most important role at GRM, as every project had to go through me!
After 3 years of building up my knowledge in Content Management Systems (CMS), I slowly started to deliver small demos for clients to show customised features we had built during the project phase. I knew the CMS platforms inside out due to my work as a QA, so this was a natural step for me. GRM started to deliver more custom projects, so I soon took on the full-time role of CMS Trainer. By performing training sessions daily, my knowledge of CMS platforms increased, but now more so from the eyes of a marketer. CMS platforms like Kentico, Sitecore and Umbraco have come on leaps and bounds since then, from simple website content solutions to fully-fledged marketing tools with automation, reporting, A/B testing and SEO optimisation all built-in. (I was also SEO Strategist for a short period!)
As you can see, every role I have had at GRM has been related to clients and assisting them to overcome their challenges. When the opportunity arose for me to take over the support department, it made perfect sense to move into the position. By this time, GRM had grown significantly and gained some excellent support clients including Eurotunnel and Gardner Denver. Providing flawless support to clients of this size was very fulfilling. Together with the team, we were tasked with providing quick solutions to serious issues such as attacks or downtime related to server issues. Both of which could have a huge impact on client revenue.
9 years within one company is quite rare these days, but it doesn’t feel like that at GRM due to the various roles I’ve had. I feel like I have constantly progressed and that has been key – to always strive for more knowledge. Luckily this can, through hard work be achieved in a fast-paced digital industry!
What do you like most about your day-to-day role?
It would have to be the regular challenges that are being brought up by ever-changing technology. You have to adapt! Look at mobile responsiveness for example. When I started, it was never mentioned in workshops, now most websites are developed for mobile users first. As an agency, you have stay at the forefront of digital, or risk falling behind.
On a day-to-day basis, I would like to think that smooth running of operations in our organisation is what I like the most, although it sounds simple it includes being responsible for people, operations, budgets and project delivery. Luckily here at GRM, we have a great team and lots of talented people working with us to help keep track and to improve.
What have been your biggest highlights from the past 9 years?
It would have to be working with all of the skilled colleagues I’ve had the opportunity to share the GRM Digital office with over the years! Seeing how they’ve helped the organisation to grow and become what it is today. Some have even gone on to build their businesses, which shows that there is a steep learning curve here at GRM and something we are proud of.
Also being able to work directly with some large, recognised brands such as Gardner Denver, Eurotunnel and Quintessentially. It’s always fulfilling to be able to add value to their already talented marketing teams and help shape their future strategies. There’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a great feeling to deliver projects that add more revenue to our clients.
There’s a lot of changes happening at GRM Digital at the moment, can you tell us a bit more?
When I first started at GRM, we were purely doing web development with Ektron CMS. Looking back, we've changed a lot since then! In recent years, we’ve had to adapt to the changing requirements of our clients. Our development team is now skilled in Kentico, Sitecore and Umbraco to name a few, so we’re much more widespread in terms of the platforms that we can offer. But this is only the start!
You might recall how I mentioned that the CMS platforms have changed a lot from being very simple tools to an all-in-one platform for marketing teams. So, it is only natural that we have again broadened our interests and knowledge to be able to assist our clients in all of these fields. We’ve invested heavily in our digital marketing capabilities, allowing us to offer unique insight and strategy that can help shape our client’s strategies. And last but not least, we’ve undergone a rebrand to GRM Digital to accurately reflect our growth and the range of services that we offer.
The past 9 years have been a great journey and I look forward to more growth with GRM Digital and our excellent clients!