New role: The 30-60-90 plan – The first 30 days

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The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)

Prior to starting my new role recently as Technical Marketing Manager at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) I tweeted a link to a guest post titled “A 90-day Plan for New Product Managers” by Ninon LaForce writing on one of my favourite blogs: On Product Management.  The post struck a cord with me as I had recently accepted an offer to join CSIT in a role not dissimilar to a Product/Product Marketing Manager.  I was interested in how I could apply the plan and stick to it.

As I approach my first 30 days at CSIT it is timely to review how the first third of the 30-60-90 plan has went.  I thought a retrospective look at my first month there was in order.  It also gives me a great reason to get my blogging boots on again following an extended break.

Before the Start Date

In her post Ninon suggests some tasks to carry out prior to starting to ensure you hit the ground running:

Obtain all relevant information I can find to get up to speed on what is happening with the organization (e.g. annual reports, website, press releases, internal contacts if I have them). Also get a good understanding of what is happening in the industry.

I had done a fair amount of this anyway both in terms of pre-application due diligence to determine personal fit with the role and in the run up to interview.  Notwithstanding, once I was offered and accepted the post I continued to read up and quiz industry contacts on CSIT.  I made a point of meeting with my new boss and another new work colleague to learn more and lay some foundations before my first day.  The more I learned the more I looked forward to starting.

Day 1-30: Learn my way around and get to know the team

I’ll look at Ninon’s advice for the first 30 days in a moment but first some of my own thoughts on this important period.  Having worked in a number of roles over the past 12 years I see the first 30 days as a time to understand the organisation, its culture, history, processes, personalities and what makes it tick.  Its also about housekeeping, administration, inductions and form filling.

The first 30 days can make or break the perception you have of a new employer.  Both the new employer and employee need to be prepared for it to work.

Now let’s see how I have managed against what I had hoped to do with reference to Ninon’s eleven points for the first month:

Meet with my manager to identify top priorities for my department and what is expected of me. Set up a time for weekly status meetings.

Done.  My manager, Stephen Wray, has been excellent in this regard with short, medium and long term priorities set.  Weekly meetings have been arranged and we usually find time to chat on an ad-hoc basis most days.

Meet with each member of my team to learn their role, challenges and opportunities. Find out what they expect of me and how I can help them.

Done.  I don’t have any direct reports so this one has been easy. 🙂

Meet with as many top influencers as possible and ask them valuable suggestions about my role and about navigating the organization.

Done.  My first two weeks had a meticulously planned series of induction meetings with everyone from the Director of ECIT Prof. John McCanny and operational colleagues through to the various Directors of Research of each of the research clusters, Engineering Managers, Research Fellows, PhDs and last but not least Spin-in company staff.  Every single meeting without fail was exceptional.  Everyone was welcoming.  Everyone blew my mind with the breadth and depth of research carried out at CSIT and reinforced in my own mind what a brilliant opportunity I had been given to come and work with them all.

Learn the corporate systems, the internal workings of the company and read the company policies and procedures.

Done.  I made a point of seeking out those systems and policies in particular that I would need to know and use regularly.

Attend any orientation or training offered.


Review the list of existing partners and study what is known about them, how they have been performing, etc.

Done.  This has been helped by having to get involved straight away with organising Belfast 2012: 2nd World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit at CSIT and The ECIT SPACE Summit. More on those in later blog posts.

Subscribe to industry online news, thought leadership, and any other industry online resources.

Done.  These include SC Magazine, Info Security Magazine etc. I’m also swotting up on my Wired Magazine collection.  I want CSITs research featured in there.

Go to lots of meetings and offer to help on small initiatives.


Read as much as possible and study to continue to improve industry and product knowledge.

Done.  I’m reading as much as I can, mainly in the evenings as the day time has increasingly focused on preparing for Mobile World Congress among other things.

Draw up the logical value chain (ecosystem) for the industry and find out as much as possible about each value step and how the organization adds value (or could add value).

Could do better.  Still trying to get my head round this one.  Well, I am allowed one! 🙂

Listen and take lots of notes.

Done.  I even went all hipster and bought a new bright red Moleskine.
10 out of a possible 11 isn’t bad.  The challenge is to sustain this over the coming weeks ahead when I will be attending two trade fairs as well as hosting a summit back in Belfast.  It won’t stop me trying though.  I have been loving every minute. 🙂