Matt D'Angelo is Vice Chairman of the Board for the Beaufort Digital Corridor and has worked in the software industry for over twenty years. He is currently Service Delivery Manager at Veritas Technologies LLC. He and his wife Cheryl, a local real estate agent, recently became owners of Beaufort's Ballenger Realty. Matt's advisement has been vital to several programs at the Digital Corridor, most notably Live Work Mentor - where college students develop their tech product over the summer at BASEcamp.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up outside of Greenville, in Greer, SC. It was rural when we moved there and experienced rapid growth. As kids we were all on various sports teams- we didn't really have video games so we did things like play out in the culverts that were laid out in a field that would eventually become the drainage and water source for our neighborhood.
How did you come to be in Beaufort?
Cheryl and I vacationed to her parents' Hilton Head timeshares for many years, and one day we went on a romantic bed and breakfast trip to Beaufort. For years we'd go on vacation thinking "we could move here" and on one vacation five years ago, we looked at houses on Hilton Head. When the first one didn't work out, we cast a wider net on Zillow and found our Beaufort home. We left vacation early to look at the house, loved it, and put it under contract on Monday. We loved the house, I loved the water, and Cheryl loved the small-town feel.
What was your most memorable early job? What did you learn from it?
My second job was with Right Source, a company that marketed IBM mainframes, AS-400s, and ThinkPads. We would put the computers into big display cases and ship them from venue to venue, and host events for 300 people to view the new IBM hardware. I produced the shows, and was eventually part of the team we sent to Europe to open an office there. I lived there for a year after I was married–so there I was in my mid-twenties transferred to Europe and got to travel to every capital in Europe as well as several countries in Asia.
After that, whenever international work would come up, the companies I worked for would say, "Well, Matt's had a lot of international experience..." so I got even more opportunity for international work. Cheryl and I have been so many places that our 'bucket list' is now just creative. It was only my second job, but it was the first one that launched everything for me in technology. Also, being in marketing, I got great experience working with senior executives with million-dollar marketing campaigns.
Did you have a managerial drive early on, or did you acquire it through experiences?
At my heart I'm an analyst, and what I've always done is take a collection of things that make the business "go" and organize them. At the company I worked for the longest, I documented/organized our project management methodology- literally wrote the book. I enjoy startup work and efforts to make processes repeatable and improvable. I can quickly get to the bottom of an issue or process, and work with the stakeholders to streamline plans. After enough years of seeing best practice and building experience, I wanted to lead the way through transformations myself.
In your own words, what do you do?
Veritas makes software and hardware relative to backing up data. My role as a Service Delivery Manager is most often doing Project Management work - I work with strategic customers that have complex requirements, where I can pull together activity from cross-functional teams: developers, sales, customer, service team, etc.
Veritas is a continuation of what I've been doing for some time; I've always moved towards business with opportunities for improvement and efficiency. Right now, we're experiencing change management, looking to reinvent ourselves as industry standards are changing. This makes me want to stay there and is what drew me to this type of work in the first place.
What is your management style?
I'm usually in roles that are building and formalizing processes, and I love mentoring. In these roles, my value is most often that I can take the existing building blocks, find the nuances that are missing, and help build a more robust solution. My management style is 'lead by duplication' where I serve in the role to establish the way we want it done, and then duplicate to others. I've found that people respond really well to personal, public recognition. So I try to first establish the process, then encourage and mentor.
What lessons have you learned from past bosses?
One of the most critical lessons I've learned is how to reward to get results and build loyalty. After any accomplishment, always look back at what you've done and learn, and then recognize achievement. When you ask a lot from people, recognize it, and recognize them.
Be completely honest as you evaluate your progress. Up front if I've properly explained what I expect, I will reward a job well done, but I have also earned the right to be constructively critical. Don't dwell on it, but correct, mentor for a better outcome, and move on.
What's the biggest misconception about being a good manager?
That you always have to be right.
Do you have a morning routine? How do you start and end your day?
In the morning I have a set routine: get up with the kids for school, drink a fair amount of coffee, and have a devotion. Here in Beaufort, as everybody knows, you end the day with a glass of wine and a sunset. If you also have a boat, then it is glass of wine, sunset, on the boat.
What obstacles have you faced in business? How have you overcome them?
Things that don't fit 'the program' are the obstacles, and people are always the biggest things that don't fit. After all, we are all different. You can always get rid of an old printer and get a new one. But if people won't change, you have to find another way to communicate the message, or move them to something they DO fit, or let them go. I'd much rather see somebody grow than get let go, and since I love mentoring and process improvement, I enjoy this part of growth.
What do you look for in the people you hire or add to the team?
Enthusiasm. Action. Even if you're going to do something wrong, at least do something. We can always learn and improve if it's done wrong. You can't steer a parked car, so be moving so we can achieve, or at least you can be guided.
What is your biggest pet peeve in business or amongst colleagues?
Doing the same thing twice, such as doing something successfully, and then again because somebody wasn't paying attention.
Also, when people don't act after the expectation is set and the course of action is clear. ...always be moving.
What advice would you give those aspiring to be managers?
The further you go up the chain, it's all about simplification. The lower your role, you are in the weeds and in the details. Your manager needs to be able to take all these details and give five bullets to their boss- who is getting the same thing from six other people. Colin Powell said, "Great leaders are great simplifiers". Consolidate and report in a simplified manner for the person who has more responsibility than you.
What advice would you give new graduates seeking to work in the tech industry?
Try a small company that does exactly what you want, and be there long enough so that they have to call on you all the time. You will learn how to do everything, then you may find what you might like to specialize in. Also, at the small firm you get a bigger title quicker- if you're the Director of Marketing where there were seven people, then you go to a place that has 70 people, your path to Director of Marketing has an advantage.
What do you see as the future of data?
Mountains and mountains of dark data has been saved but is not indexed and known - somebody's got to comb through and see what useful information is there. I bet one of AI's early initiatives will be to analyze data to categorize, and discover the best ways to present the data's best use. Right now, firms are paying millions of dollars for more manual analysis, using keywords they think might be relevant and important. But the only way to service these giant volumes is through automation. For example, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe is basically the right to be forgotten. Each person has the right to edit or remove data about yourself, and the data being collected and saved these days is enormous. To comply, people holding this data must know what they have. For example, all social media apps have to meet those requirements by demonstrating a full knowledge of all held data. If they cannot, the fines are staggeringly high. Google analytics is tapping in on maybe the last few years' worth of information, but there's much, MUCH more out there.
How do you juggle your responsibilities?
Somewhat procedurally – planning has become more important as my responsibilities have increased. If I make a note of the most important few actions for each of my responsibilities, I'll make sure to at least address the key items.
When I travel, I like to go during the middle of the week and work my other plans around Monday and Friday openings. Then to maximize efficiency, if you prepare for your own tasks, and state the expectations of others before you go, your time will be more productive as you go. The need for preparation cannot be overstated.
What one person have been the biggest influence on your business life? Why?
One of my past bosses created a group of us to be a 'transformation team,' and we worked at three different companies effecting transformation of the business to a higher level. I worked with him for eight years, and each time our mission was to set new process to bring about the desired change, and GO GET IT. He was a doer and he was very recognition-oriented. He asked a lot from you, but we always reviewed the success, and recognized the effort. I was able to watch the success of that method, of that action orientation, and the constant motion of learn/adjust/move which largely mark my current style.
What inspires you?
For work, I just want to get something done better, faster, stronger. Generally, in life? Faith, family, and freedom. I feel like I'm called to go do the best I can.
Are you a Mac or a PC? iPhone or Android?
Oh, PC! All the way.
What's a book you always recommend?
My favorite book is Tale of Two Cities. Another very good book, The Heart and the Fist, is about an intellectually and physically gifted guy pursuing his life's mission. While he pursued his path, (Rhodes Scholar, Navy Seal, and most recently Governor of Missouri) he learned and decided quickly and was able to find his calling and drive for excellence.
What is your usual restaurant order?
Hearth Spicy Italian Pizza with lots of peppers.
Outside of work what keeps you busy?
I'd rather be on the water than on the land, so somewhere on a boat, hopefully with a fishing rod in my hand. We are also serious in our faith, so we're very involved in church activities.
Ballenger is going well- he did great job building a business that has lasted a long time, and is liked enough to win Beaufort's favorite realty several years in a row. Since coming aboard, we've done some simple things like office renovations, and cut a cost here and add a cost there, but largely we'll keep following the business model. The secret to any go-forward success will be that everybody loves Cheryl. In fact, the secret of my life for the last twenty-five years is everybody loves my wife and I'm just along for the ride. We will continue to make Ballenger Realty feel more like a family than a collection of agents and workers so everyone will continue to love working there. My responsibility is mostly the operations side, and Cheryl is the expert running the business of real estate. Everett is still with us as Broker in Charge and provides long term consistency throughout our transition.