Career Path: Chris Fuller, VP Global Services at Brightcove
What does the career path and a day in the life look like for the VP Global Services at Brightcove?
We interviewed Chris Fuller to find out.
Where did you grow up? What did you parents do for work? What was your very first job?
I grew up in Endwell, which is in upstate NY, a suburb of Binghamton.
My father worked for my grandfather, who owned a 7-Up franchise, then went on to work for Canada Dry and eventually Coca-Cola. My mom stayed home to raise my sister and I and then got a degree in computer science and programmed flight control systems for GE, working primarily with Airbus.
As for my first job, I wish I could say it was something cooler, but when I was 15, a buddy and I decided we needed spending money. So, we got jobs in the stockroom at a retail store in the local mall.
You received undergraduate degrees from Boston College and Berklee. What led you down that path?
I had wanted to be a lawyer, a litigator actually, from before high school. My aunt was an attorney and I really looked up to her, so I got on that path and became a political science major at BC. I changed to English my sophomore year, but I’ve always had a love for music. For my senior year thesis, I chose to write an opera.
It was this experience that solidified that I was not going to be a lawyer and made me think about pursuing music more seriously. I took a year off to travel and figure out the music thing, then went to Berklee for the next three years. I then headed out west to California with my then-girlfriend from BC (now my amazing wife!) to try to get into the music business. I really wanted to get into post-production for film and studio work.
What were some of your first jobs after school and how did they lay down the foundation for what you are doing today?
Moving out to California definitely changed things a bit. We settled in a location that we thought would be great for both of us (she was studying gemology and needed to be near the GIA, and I was looking for work at studios in LA). I quickly realized that commuting for four hours a day for an entry-level studio job would not be living the dream after all, and I started temping at a local computer networking company as the office assistant. It just so happened that a guy there was running an early eCommerce business within the company and he needed some help, from then on I ended up working with him. We built up the online shop within the larger business, made some money for the company. Throughout we realized we were spending more time educating our customers about new products than anything else, so we decided to write a business plan for an online magazine targeting the SMB market for networking equipment. Our parent company had an investment arm and they decided to invest when we pitched them the idea.
We hired a team, built a test lab, created a website, and named the business 8Wire. This was in 2000 and 2001 and then the first dotcom crash happened and the investors pulled out, so we closed the business and started a new web development business in 2002 that we ran out of our houses for the first year. My partner in the business was based in San Diego, and my wife and I moved there. While she kept us afloat teaching at the gemological institute, we started to build the business. We were actually quite successful and he is still running the business today.
In 2008, we decided we wanted to move back to Boston and I ended up working for a consulting firm called Optaros through a contact I knew there. I started there as a technical architect doing a lot of Drupal work until they gave me an opportunity to move to Romania to build and manage a team there.
Romania was an incredible time in my life and career. The team was 15 people when I got there, and then 63 when I left. I was the only non-Romanian in the office throughout that time, so it was quite an adventure growing the team aggressively. From a personal standpoint, it was a really amazing experience for my family. My daughter, Neva, turned 5 right after we arrived and was in second grade when we came back to Boston, so we were there at a great time in her life and she was totally fluent in Romanian while we were there (she forgot everything as soon as we moved back, of course). My wife and I joined an expat choir that performed a few times a year, traveled a lot, and made some great friends. As fun as it was though, we wanted to get back to HQ and the states and raise our daughter here. Overall, I had a great run with Optaros and then headed to Brightcove in 2015.
You spent several years as a technology consultant and evangelist. Can you share some of the work you focused on while at Achieve Internet and Optaros?
After the first two years, Achieve was primarily a Drupal shop, so I was doing a lot of content management work in the media and publishing industry. We did work for a wide variety of clients, including Lifetime Networks, Fast Company, Universal Music Group and others. When I started with Optaros, it was very similar but Optaros eventually focused on eCommerce implementations and I got to work with some amazing brands like Stella & Dot, Rue La La, and Nestle.
What brought you to Brightcove and what are the high-level responsibilities of your position as VP, Global Services?
The people are what initially brought me to Brightcove. The head of HR at Brightcove is someone I have worked with in the past and she is the one who really got me turned on to the opportunity. I interviewed with a top tier group of people and it was a great experience. I was very impressed with the people, the products, and the passion for the industry.
At a high level, my main job is keeping our clients happy and making sure we deliver. I run the professional services team, which can have a lot of tight deadlines and tough projects. We have a great team, so I consider one of my main responsibilities to be keeping the great culture alive and staying ahead of the pressure as much as possible.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Coffee or bloody mary… depends on the day!
What time do you get into the office?
8:30. My team has a pretty early start overall.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
Morning: Fighting fires.
Afternoon: Meetings and more meetings. I am part of a highly matrixed group so there are a lot of standups and progress meetings that I am a part of, which keeps me informed about all of our projects, as well as keeping me plugged into the global team.
Evening: I am in two bands - one with a great group of people that includes my wife, and one with a great group of colleagues at Brightcove. Evenings have me jamming with a band in between taking international calls for work and spending time with my family.
What time do you head out of the office?
I usually head out around 6ish to catch a commuter train, but it depends on what late night calls might be happening that day. We have a lot of work happening now in Australia and Asia so it skews my schedule a bit.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I am always on. Not necessarily logged in to a computer, but available. My team and our clients are spread out over the globe and I like them to know I am accessible if they need me.
Any productivity hacks?
I might need some! Seriously though, I try to be an inbox zero guy, but I am usually more like 30 or under. I guess you might say I am not failing miserably or succeeding greatly with that.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Words with Friends
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
Building the business in San Diego, and my experience in Romania is a close second.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
There are so many people, but if I had to pick one I would say my former boss at Optaros, Mavis Chin. She is quite possibly the smartest person I have ever met; incredibly humble and she has a remarkable ability to cut to the chase and ask the right questions. She is truly amazing.
Images courtesy of Brightcove.