We’re going to start introducing you to members of our team. There are a ton of fascinating people here at IVR Technology Group. From a rock star to competitive cyclists, to opera singers, football stars, disco DJ’s and more. Today I’m fortunate to have found an open slice of time in they busy schedule of Clayton Northrup, Implementation Analyst.
Bill: So, Clayton, give us a brief rundown on what you do here at IVR Technology Group if it’s possible to be brief.
Clayton: The role is really helping our customers to realize what their application is going to need and how we’re going to solve their problems. A lot of times, with something like an IVR application, people have a general idea of what they want. For example, maybe they need to accept payments or take surveys. But there’s a lot that people don’t think about, and that’s what our team works on. Specifically, we’ll meet with a customer and get an idea of what their business needs are, and based on our experience, map out a really well-rounded solution for them.
Bill: It was interesting how you started out there, “Help them realize what they need.” That’s often the case, isn’t it, they come to us with something in mind, then you help them understand so much more is possible. Is there a specific example of this you could share?
Clayton: Recently, a customer came just looking for a payment IVR to accept payments by credit card. When we really get into the weeds of it with them, we helped them realize there are a lot more options. For example, SMS text receipts or accept more than just credit cards with ACH, things they never event thought of. From their perspective, they had always just taken credit cards, and ACH wasn’t even on their radar until we brought it up.
In our business, this is something we often take for granted. Still, when you’ve done enough of these and are able to ask the questions of the types of things people need, that’s when you hear what their actual problems are. And that’s the big thing with designing any solution, whether it’s an IVR or business process, listening to what the problem is, and not having a preconceived solution or design until you’ve understood what the needs are. Because then you’re building from the ground up, without a predefined decision of what path they need to take.
That’s a catch to sometimes, our customers might have a preconceived notion of what they need. Of course, in the end, it’s up to them, but we at least get the chance to provide some guidance and question things they weren’t even thinking about questioning.
Bill: How long have you been with our team?
Clayton: It’s been a whole 9 months.
Bill: Wow. It feels longer. But you’re far from the “new guy.”
Clayton: Exactly, that’s true. Everything’s moving really fast. I have a little seniority now.
Bill: When you’re not helping our customers realize what they really need, what do you do outside these walls?
Clayton: I like to read, I know that sounds really cliché, but I really am a fairly avid reader.
Bill: Is there a particular topic or genre you focus on?
Clayton: I’ve read a lot of fiction, but this year I’ve been focusing a little more on non-fiction and specifically biographies as well as cognitive science on how our brain works. And it’s funny because both of those are things I’ve not enjoyed historically, but I started reading a few good books in those genres and kind of fell down that path.
Right now, I’m reading the most interesting book I can recall reading in a long time called The Power Broker. It’s all about Robert Moses and how he essentially built New York City, and what a corrupt person he was. But it’s an incredible book.
Bill: It was a fairly corrupt time back then.
Clayton: Yeah, exactly, it wasn’t just him.
Bill: Everyone here has a sign on their door, expressing some attributes of something fun or personal. Yours highlights another passion of yours?
Clayton: Yes. I do love board games. My character here is “Implementation Wizard” with a plus-eight bonus on land. I love playing board games with friends and my wife sometimes, depending on the game. She’s not quite as avid a gamer as I am.
But sure, board games, books, my wife and I do some volunteer work. I feel like when people ask me what else do I do, I often don’t know what to say, but it seems like I’m always busy doing something.
Bill: So you’re a Buffalo native?
Clayton: Yes, I am. But we lived in Cleveland for 10 years and moved back a couple of years ago.
Bill: What attracted you to Cleveland?
Clayton: I worked for a software company where we built content management software, and my role was very similar. For the first couple of years, I was in a training role. Every new employee would come in for four to six weeks of training. A later ended up in more of a product role, and that’s how I got into solution design and solution engineering.
Bill: What would be one thing that no one else here knows about you?
Clayton: Not a lot of people probably know that I speak Swahili and lived in Africa for two months.
Clayton: I’m not good enough to be a translator or anything, but I can get by.
Bill: Can you close us out in Swahili?
That was, “Thank you for reading and have a nice day.”
Bill: Fantastic. Clayton, enjoyable as always.
Bill: So we’re here with an important person, whose name is on the building, Northrup Grumman, and he is Clayton Northrup. So tell us about your career designing top-secret spy satellites.
Clayton: It’s more of a hobby really.
Bill: For those who don’t know, we share an office building with Northrup Grumman.