Corporate

Then and Now. An Interview with Matt Thompson, EVP of Worldwide Field Operations

August 8, 2018

When Matt Thompson, EVP of Worldwide Field Operations, first joined Adobe back in 2007, it was an entirely different ballgame. Back then, he describes the company as “Steady…Predictable. We sold boxed software like Creative Suite and Acrobat through long-time reseller partners, and were on 18-month product cycles.”

But today, it’s the complete opposite.

“Now? It’s more exciting because of our velocity. We’re growing incredibly fast and entering new markets. We’re even more global, and have the ability to show greater business impact in what we sell. We’re anything but predictable now, in a very good way.”

For someone who’s first job was a french fry cook at McDonald’s when he was a kid in Chicago, and then selling industrial chemicals right out of college, Matt’s come a long way and seen the sales landscape evolve tremendously. “At Adobe, we sell experiences, not products now. And we give everyone – from artists to global brands – everything they need to design and deliver exceptional digital experiences. That’s a pretty awesome aspiration!”

To take a closer look at Matt’s journey then versus now, we spoke with him to learn about the biggest change he’s seen at Adobe, how artificial intelligence and machine learning have affected the sales function, and what skills potential candidates need today in order to succeed.

Since joining Adobe, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen here?

The perception of who we are and what we do has completely changed. Today, we’re in a pretty unique position to serve customers in both the Digital Media and Digital Experience sides of our business. With the pace of our growth and the way we go to market, there’s honestly little that’s the same with then and now. Except our core values—I’m proud to say they’ve remained tried and true.

A common theme I hear today is that artificial intelligence and machine learning will “replace” humans in the workforce. What are the implications of introducing more AI and ML in the field of sales?

I think it’s cool. Because of AI and ML, we can work smarter and more efficiently. Do I think salespeople will be replaced? No. But access to AI and ML will enable us to do our jobs more effectively. The way we sell online, and the way we serve customers in person will both benefit. 

You meet with customers from all over the world. What are the trends you’re seeing with them, and how is Adobe meeting them where their needs are?

Digital transformation is the number one boardroom agenda. And brands are looking for Adobe to help them achieve that. Providing solutions that help them nurture the customer experience is where we excel. It’s dynamic and really exciting. 

Why should candidates choose Adobe?

It’s cool work and you’ll be with a well-respected, globally recognized brand. There’s a warm reception for us everywhere we go. Customers are excited to hear what we’re up to, which is quite unique in sales. Our brand is a competitive advantage for us.

So, in terms of hiring, what are the top skills you’re looking for when hiring for your team/org?

I’m looking for smart, creative and what I call “math-y” people. That’s the new DNA. And it doesn’t matter what your background is, as long as you’re driven to achieve certain goals.

I always tell incoming employees to treat work like sport for adults. I may not be able to mix it up on the court or field like I once did, but I get to compete every day in the market on team Adobe. 

That being said, being an inclusive company is on every leader’s mind. How do you view diversity and inclusion in your organization?

We take it really seriously at Adobe. When we say Adobe is “for all,” we mean it. We’re a global company with a diverse set of customers, so in order to best serve them we need to mirror them. My organization is “for all” in the way we develop and grow our employees, hire externally and create an environment where employees feel a sense of inclusion. Not only does it make for a better team, it’s the right, ethical thing to do. It’s part of Adobe’s identity. 

One example, which is specific to gender diversity in my organization, is Leadership Circles. It’s a development program that’s designed to engage high-performing females and increase their impact within the sales organization. We’re in its sixth year and as a result of the success of the program, we’ve expanded it to other parts of the company.

Fun facts

If you could only be great at one sport which would you choose?

Golf. Right now, I have a 14 handicap, so let’s just say I have plenty of room for improvement.

I understand you were number seven in a family of nine kids. What is the best part about having that many siblings? And what’s the worst part?

Best part was that it was a lot of fun. It was a bit nuts, but we’re all really great friends. It was a really competitive environment. Worst part…You have to do some crazy things to get noticed.

What was the craziest thing you did?

I’m not going there! But let’s just say I did get noticed.

What are you currently reading? 

Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office by Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP, and also Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.

And lastly, on the theme of “then and now,” if you could go back and give your younger self career advice, what would it be?

I would move to California and get into the tech industry a lot earlier than I did. It’s challenging but fun. There’s so much opportunity, diversity, growth and excitement here.

Want to join our world-class sales team? Apply today on our career site. And for more perspectives from our newest executive team members, read our interview with:

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