Tony Albanese, Senior Manager, Product Marketing talks to Philip Bossonney, Senior Associate at New Peak Partners about the impact he’s had since joining Unomaly (since acquired by LogicMonitor), and his experience of being an expat in Sweden.
Unomaly was founded in Stockholm, Sweden and has a team of 35 employees from 13 different countries. Unomaly’s algorithmic monitoring approach to log analysis helps IT teams better understand their IT environments by surfacing log anomalies and allowing users to explore their data. By focusing on anomaly detection, Unomaly helps teams act on issues early, before they become more complex and expensive to investigate and resolve.
Tell us a bit about your journey to Stockholm
Originally, I am from New Jersey, USA, but moved to Los Angeles with the hope of working within the entertainment industry. After a long period of unemployment, I applied to a product marketing position at a design company building product design applications. I had no idea what product marketing meant and mistakenly thought it meant just marketing, but for products. After a year in that role, I was fired. This wasn’t a great start, but it was fair because I didn’t really know what I was doing!
I was then lucky enough to take another Product Marketing job with a small tech start-up, PagerDuty – this time with a lot more knowledge in the field. The team was small, just about 25 or 30 employees and I was their first product marketing hire. It was a great experience, but given the fast pace of the company, I felt a bit burnt out and now that I was getting a bit older I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to take time off and travel before my career became too serious. So, I left the USA for the first time to go backpacking around Europe.
After a few months, I returned to the States to get my career back on track. I gained more experience by working with Ticketmaster and freelancing for several global clients. While freelancing and consulting, I realized I didn’t need to be tied down to a specific place so I joined Remote Year, a program that offered me the chance to work and live like a local in cities around the world for a month at a time alongside a community of other professionals from different backgrounds and industries. Every month, our group of 50, changed cities, countries and continents while continuing to work remotely. Ultimately, I travelled for about 18 months in Europe, Africa and South America. It was an amazing experience and helped me realize that I really wanted to have the experience of working for a non-US company, full-time in another country.
Serendipitously, Philip from New Peak Partners tracked me down via LinkedIn and told me about the opportunity at Unomaly in Sweden. Unomaly was searching for a product marketer with experience working for an American tech company. This mapped perfectly to my profile and just so happened to be exactly what I was looking for.
What made you join Unomaly?
Philip really sold me on the company and the opportunity they offered. More importantly, I felt like I really clicked with the Co-Founder and CTO, Göran, who would ultimately become my manager. I felt a strong connection with him and the rest of the team members that I was able to meet. Also, the move to Stockholm was attractive as I felt it was the right time for me to settle in one place and leave the digital nomad life behind. While freelancing, I had missed the personal relationships you build with a team and it was great to see that Unomaly, started by two friends, Göran and our CEO, Johan, really valued their people.
What were you brought in to do?
There were a lot of gaps that I was brought in to fill. When I joined to lead product marketing, there was no product marketing or any marketing of any kind in place. The best way to sum it up was that I was brought in to help Unomaly better understand who our users were and how to best communicate with them. Though the company had existed for several years, the market was evolving, and we were trying to change with it. Finding a product-market fit during this shift was essential.
Of course, being a small company, we didn’t have a very large marketing budget. I’m used to having to make do with very little, therefore it was vital that we focus on defining our messaging and understanding how to best communicate it.
How did you go about it?
When I joined Unomaly I knew nothing about logging or log analysis, but I had a pretty good understanding of marketing to engineers and to a technical audience. I set out to learn as much as I could about our customers and our product. I spent a lot of time talking to people internally and externally, especially Göran, and looking at what other people were about in the space. We’d then test out different messages through our sales team and through our marketing channels.
I’ve spent more time talking to Göran that I ever expected to spend talking to another person”
What was really awesome about our team is that everyone was really focused on the same goals. Everyone was truly committed to making the company special and there wasn’t a lot of ego involved.
What impact have you had on the company?
At Unomaly, I ended up wearing many different hats. I initially joined to be the product marketing lead, but I soon jumped in to fill the VP Marketing role while simultaneously leading two parts of the company. I lead one of our product teams, the Growth Team, which includes front-end developers and our technical writer, while also leading our marketing team, which grew to include a marketing specialist.
With the Growth Team we were focused on developing our new website, documentation platform and free tier of our product. Meanwhile in marketing we were focused on messaging and testing that messaging through our website, content and other online channels, creating a consistency around how we spoke about the product.
In my opinion the website had the biggest impact, we rebuilt it from scratch to leverage the skill sets of the team members we had available. This project really helped steer our messaging in a precise direction, but more importantly helped get the entire team on the same page when it came to the value Unomaly delivered to its customers.
We also focused on launching the free tier of the product, which would ultimately get more people using Unomaly. This project lowered the barriers of entry and enabled us to attract more users, have more conversations and get more feedback. It also helped our product team identify and fix issues that came with self-onboarding. Early on a belief resonated in the company that users would not be able to figure out how to get going on their own. We learned that it was possible and were then able to make it easier for them.
We hired Tony to help us find the right voice for our engineering audience. He was instrumental in helping us connect with engineers, whether it was through our website, documentation, or launching our free tier”Göran Sandahl, Co-Founder & CTO at Unomaly
What personal growth have you experienced?
Coming to Sweden and working for a start-up turned out to be an experience that I wasn’t as ready for as I thought I was. It was hard learning how to communicate with the team, not because of any language barriers, but instead, individual cultural nuances that would occasionally leave me confused and frustrated. However, I quickly grew to appreciate the Swedish work culture and cannot see myself fully embracing the American way of work again. Unomaly has a very international team, with about 50% of us non-Swedish nationals. I believe this level of diversity has been overwhelmingly positive for the team as we needed to understand and adapt to everyone’s way of working.
I feel extremely lucky to have had this amazing learning experience.”
In Sweden the hierarchy is very flat, and the focus is on consensus which was something I needed to get used to. Because of this, my management style has completely changed, I’m much calmer and much more trusting of my teammates. One big difference is the feeling that ‘we’re all in this together’ which I have really grown to appreciate over time. There’s a humbleness to the Swedish culture too, which as an American I wasn’t used to. The focus is on joint credit and a collective mindset, and I believe this has helped me become a bit more humble.
The way I approach conflict has become much more calm and collected, thanks to the Swedish influence.”
What about professional growth?
Since joining Unomaly I’ve had exposure to lots of experiences that I hadn’t had before, such as being much closer to engineering and more involvement in how businesses operate as a whole. And more recently being part of the leadership team discussing the acquisition and making important decisions that impact everyone’s future, which has been a really great, albeit stressful, experience.
I never really had a seat at the table before”
I’ve learned something from almost everyone that I worked with at Unomaly. In particular, Göran, Co-Founder and CTO, and Ramon, VP of Product, both played a huge role in helping me learn about the specifics of our market and the product. Ingrid, the VP of Engineering, had a huge influence on my management style, which I will take with me to any future roles I may have.
In terms of product marketing, working at Unomaly gave me the ability to refine some processes that I have developed in the past. Specially, I’ve solidified a product launch process that I’ve slowly built during time spent with former employers and clients. It’s at a point now where it’s easily scalable regardless of the stage or size of the company. I am currently introducing the product launch process to our new parent company, LogicMonitor.
What’s next for you?
It’s been great to see Unomaly’s success and to be part of the journey.
The acquisition by LogicMonitor is a great thing, it’s given many members of our team a really fantastic opportunity to grow within a larger American company. I’m personally excited that the legacy of Unomaly’s technology will get to live on. We were doing things in a unique way and now the efforts of our team will be seen and used by so many more engineers around the world. Given that, the reality of any acquisition is that there are differences in culture and processes, the integration of the teams brings challenges which are very interesting professionally.
I’m in a unique position as an American, working for a Swedish company that was acquired by an American company, sharing the role of outsider and insider.”
At the end of the day, I’d ultimately like to find another really awesome small tech start-up and help turn someone’s great idea into a reality. My niche is being the first-person in product marketing (sometimes first business hire) and growing the function. Ultimately, what matters most is that I positively impact the lives of my coworkers by making a company successful. Now that I’ve worked in Sweden and with other clients abroad, I realize that start-ups don’t need to move to the USA to be successful, there is talent everywhere. I’m enthusiastic about whatever may be next.