John ColaruotoloMason Smith

We posted recently that we’re looking to hire a Solution Design Partner out of our New York office, and we thought it would be useful if we spoke to a couple of our SDPs about what life as an SDP for Collective Next is like. John Colaruotolo and Mason Smith were kind enough to share their insights. Here are some highlights of our conversation.

What does a Solution Design Partner (SDP) do for a living?

JC: We support our Solution Designers (SD) to design and deliver projects for our clients. We’re like buddies who works alongside an SD, stagehands. An SDP works directly with clients, not just the guy behind the guy. An SDP helps make everything happen by working with the SD on gathering content, putting together the agenda, designing the curriculum … whatever the needs may be.

Mason: An SDP wears many hats at the same time. We plug in wherever the need is. It’s up to us to figure out which hat is appropriate. It’s a great model for those who want to progress and move forward.

Do SDPs have to make ambiguity their friend?

JC: Absolutely. You never know when you get a creative surprise gift or some crazy restriction that you have to work around. You have to be able to roll with the unknown. You don’t necessarily know how you’re going to get from A to B, but to me the fun is taking people on the ride from A to B

Mason: The coolest part of ambiguity is that there’s something new every day. It’s never rote, never the same thing. That’s exciting. It does make things difficult sometimes because it’s hard to plan. But there is something very exciting about making so many calls in the moment.

What would be your advice to a prospective SDP?

Mason: Be open to learning new things. Even if you come here with a background in this industry, an SDP has to be a quick study in both content and people. You’ve got to be willing to learn and adapt, and as we said you’ve got to be cool with ambiguity. 

JC: An SDP has to have an inherent sense of curiosity. And you have to be interested and willing to working together. If you’re a diva rock star, you won’t fit in here. We don’t have people here who do everything by themselves. 

Mason: Exactly. You have to have a willingness to work collaboratively. 

What did you bring here?

JC: I got here by accident! My background is entirely in music. I met a friend of a friend who was doing this work and I was fascinated with scribing and graphic synthesis the first time I saw it. I wanted to try it, even though I didn’t have an illustration background. What drew me to it is that, to me, it’s really a listening game, which is not unlike being a musician. You’re always listening, processing, synthesizing, reacting to what you’ve heard so far, and in the end, making a “thing” of some sort. And that goes for all of our work, whether it’s scribing, facilitating, or working on a longer-term creative project.

Mason: I came here with a PsyD in clinical psychology. My interest is in change, making comprehensive and lasting change. We’re doing therapy on a grand scale with corporations, helping people feel more productive, happier, more a part of a team and a broader organization. That’s the goal: make cultural change, so people can feel happier and be more productive.

Interested in being a Solution Design Partner with Collective Next? Find out more here.