Melody Taylor may be described as vital to the functioning of a well-tuned machine that operates like a Swiss time-piece — the Smart Dolphins’ IT helpdesk.
When you read the phrase “Swiss Made,” you are reading a corporate and government-regulated aesthetic. The phrase sustains cultural intent, and a mentality where craftsmanship is unapologetically refined.
The Smart Dolphins’ helpdesk is there to back up carefully crafted IT roadmaps that are the foundation in every client relationship. Although robust and operating with exacting standards, the helpdesk is necessary because computers and applications and sometimes users need help. Truth be told, mechanical watches are dead simple in comparison to computer systems.
Melody is celebrating her third year with Smart Dolphins. How the support helpdesk and POD managed without her is a profound question, to be sure.
She could be pigeon-holed as a service manager.
But there is more, much more.
She holds herself accountable for the impact that the Dolphin staff have on each other and with clients. This simple statement carries weight.
She said, “I do that by listening and observing — a lot. I manage processes, and I coach people. I also am finding a lot of enjoyment keeping up to date with feature releases across our tools — I’m not a technician, but I like using our own technology so the real techs can do their work better.”
“It’s also a vibe,” she added, tongue in cheek.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected business in a profound way, everywhere. For Smart Dolphins it was a boon. Technical debt reared its ugly head when the work from-home-migration began in March 2020.
We were well-prepared at Smart Dolphins IT and in short order, all clients were able to work from home or from anywhere (WFH, WFA) very quickly.
“Hybrid work-life is heaven,” shares Melody. “Why haven’t we been doing this all along? Give me the option to change my environment appropriately based on the kind of work required of me? Yes, please.”
“With all that was out of our social control during the worst of the pandemic, having sovereignty over my home, and the home office helped me feel stabilized — I was truly fortunate in that sense. When I work from home: I focus on being cozy. No one objects to how warm or cold I keep my home office, no one complains about the scents in the diffuser, I keep the lights dimmed, play some melodic metal, and get my work done. Okay, if I am working completely by myself, it is Taylor Swift — her album Folklore goes well with Excel spreadsheets.”
That is a parallel only an ardent fan can drum up.
The educated mind
Melody’s education comes from McGill University, where she completed a master’s degree in Information Sciences.
Asked how the degree informed her professional journey, she said, “I think my degree gave me a foundation as a professional and added context to why I do what I do, knowledge management is a valuable thing to do. The program was less focused on the specifics of how to do it or what software programs to use, and more on the general direction and attitude a person needs to get their foot in a door. For example, I learned how intranets should and could be set up optimally — not how to use SharePoint to make intranets.”
“Honestly, I think the experience of moving to a new province alone in my twenties was more valuable to me as a human than anything I learned at any time before that. Professionally, a lot of what I have to do cannot be done without confidence. I know that at one point in my life I was brave enough to enter the Jean-Talon Market with only ten dollars and knowing very little French, so leading meetings full of technicians who see the world in a completely different way than I do is much less intimidating.”
For Melody, she enjoys helping in the process of finding the next great Dolphin member. They are out there, but as business leaders are finding out, they are exceedingly rare. Smart Dolphins cheekily might say, “we have already hired all the great people.”
“I think my favourite moments have come out of the interview process. We have hired so many new staff this last year, and we have an intense interview process. One thing I look for when meeting someone new is how well they can banter with me about literally anything else other than technology. Most of the current dolphins on the support team had a moment in their interview where we hit a topic that made their eyes twinkle — and I love that moment.”
“People are people no matter where you go. The basics of supporting other humans to do their best work are always the same. The principles I learned at working at a spa; I brought with me here. I don’t always succeed at it — but I try to come to people from a place of empathy and honesty when navigating issues at work.”
The cultured persona
Asked about her choice between coffee or tea — I mean why not go deep and sort out the personality in a real-life scenario?
“Don’t make me choose! I’m particular about both,” she laughed. “The best coffee I’ve had was in Montreal, they really do a good cappuccino. I’m working on making a good chai.”
“What fave current dish to prepare,” I ask?
“Okay, the phrasing of this question is great.” says chef Melody. “I know there are dishes that my family loves to eat, or things I like to eat but are stressful to put together. But my fave dish to prepare is a go-to from university days — my former roommate calls it “drunk pasta.”
“There is no recipe. The only prerequisite to making it is that I am in the right creative space (sometimes wine helps with that) and pasta. I just like to go with my mood and what is in the pantry…and when you are a broke student that can be interesting. Combinations like pumpkin carbonara with chorizo, or crispy kale mac and goat cheese come to mind.”
Creativity versus structure
Does it make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do? Probably not.
“So much of my work and family responsibilities are dominated by the part of my brain that needs rules and structure. Everything has a place, there is always a reason for it to be there in that place, and it always goes there. It’s efficient, straightforward, and systematic.
Cooking? Not so much. It’s my safe zone. I have the freedom to do whatever the heck I want, make a mess, make some mistakes, and then see if I have enough skills to fix them.”
Part of the attraction is that Smart Dolphins provides a complete kitchen.
The company is also an annual Great Place to Work® Canada honoree. Dolphins are good at what they do or are going to be good and Smart Dolphins gives them a chance to shine. Just as Melody has been doing in the POD for three years.