When Adam Oaks started attending North Georgia College, now the University of North Georgia (UNG), he decided to major in marketing. Adam soon discovered that leadership training, in addition to what he learned in his marketing courses, was a big part of being a student at North Georgia. The principles of leadership Oaks learned while in school has proven to be a driving force in his career.
“I have learned that whatever your profession is in life, whether you are an accountant, a salesperson or anything else, if you do your job right, do it well and lead by example, you can choose to be a leader even if you are not technically in a ‘leadership’ position,” Oaks said.
Marketing is a constantly evolving field. The field may look very different on its face now than it did when Oaks graduated in 1986; however, the fundamentals that make up marketing, particularly surrounding branding, still look familiar. According to Oaks, what has changed most is the availability of innovative tools provided by the introduction of the internet. These tools include search engine optimization and social media to help marketers accomplish their goals.
Oaks is also thankful that his marketing degree included plenty of math-related courses, including accounting and statistics, as part of the curriculum. “Math is everything,” Oaks explained. “You never understand why math is important when you are in school, but everything you do once you are out is connected to math, from budgets to forecasting to creating estimates.”
Oaks did not immediately pursue a career that utilized his marketing degree after graduation. He took a slight detour and flew helicopters for the U.S. Army. Later, he began to pursue a career in sales and never looked back. His first position was as a sales representative at Construction Market Data where he was promoted to director of sales and led a team of over 130 people.
Oaks gained operational and international experience with MFG.com as global vice president of sales, senior vice president and general manager of the Americas and Europe. Today, Oaks is CEO of Estimating Edge, a software company that serves the construction industry. In the year of COVID-19, he has been able to utilize the leadership skills he acquired at UNG and adapt to a variety of new challenges.
“Our company was one of the lucky ones,” Oaks said. “As a tech/software company, we were already prepared to work remotely. We were also poised to help our clients work remotely by encouraging many of them, including our more established clients who had previously resisted, to upgrade to our cloud-based product when the pandemic hit.”
Estimating Edge also needed to provide a new, virtual training process for their clients. Their former process included a week-long, in person component. Oaks’ tech team was able to plan and implement a virtual training process within two weeks and that process may become permanent, replacing the original method.
“We discovered that our customers benefit more from our virtual training since they are learning in their own environment and on their own systems,” Oaks explained. “The only downside is the difficulty of relationship building with our clients, so that will need some more thought.”
Building and fostering relationships between Oaks’ own team of employees has been less of a challenge. They are staying connected through weekly online meetings, and they also have the occasional virtual happy hour where the team ends the workday early to chat online and share a beverage together. “Our company culture is strong,” Oaks asserted, and that has helped bring them closer together despite being apart.