Meet Tim the TAM (Technical Account Manager): He jumps over fires for his customers and empowers them with Microsoft technology


*Note: This is a guest article by Tim Bennett for the Spotlight on MACH series. The writing is entirely his own. No edits, other than formatting, have been made.

Tim warrior dash - final

Love technology, but don’t want to be pigeonholed into a specific technology or sit behind a computer screen coding?  Want more face-to-face interaction?  Want insight into business but still want to be a geek?  I found myself asking these same questions after graduating.  Do they sound familiar?  If so, the TAM role may be right for you. 

First, a little on me.  I have a BS in Computer Engineering with a minor in Management & Technology, and I LOVE technology.  I live on Engadget and other tech forums.  I build my own computers.  I’m the family tech guy.  You get the idea, and many of you can relate.  During college I interned at IBM (Software dev & hardware research), Microsoft (PM in Windows) and GE (PM for internal tech projects).  Post graduation I interviewed with Microsoft for a PM position out in Redmond.  I didn’t get it.  I was crushed.  But then again, that’s the funny thing about fate.  Out of the blue I was contacted by a recruiter for the TAM role, I interviewed, took a chance and never looked back; and I honestly can say I couldn’t be happier.

OK, I’ll take the bait, but what does a TAM do?

I am the customer’s voice, and boy do they get loud sometimes.  Microsoft’s customers invest heavily in Microsoft technology in order to give them a competitive advantage.  The TAM is responsible for managing the service contracts that are sold with this software.  It is the TAMs responsibility to manage these contracts, align business objectives with coordinated service deliveries and ensure that our customers maximize the value they are seeing from their investment. 

Currently, I manage $1.3 million in contract value, have a regular cadence with executive leadership (Direct and CIO level) at my customers, have insight into strategic business decision-making processes and have gained an broad knowledge on the Microsoft suite of products.  I manage technical issues from the trenches and report them at the 50,000-foot level and everywhere in between.  And if you’re lucky, your customers realize the value you provide and buy more services from you. 

Why the TAM role?

Technology – I am immersed in technology every day at my customers whether it is their infrastructure, 3rd party applications, or anything in the ever expanding suite of Microsoft Products. The TAM role allows you to get a breadth of knowledge that some other roles simply cannot afford.  On top of this, you pick up troubleshooting tips and tricks along the way to help you out in future situations. 

Opportunity – Not only is the TAM role an amazing job, but it is an amazing way to start your career. Because of the broad range of technology you encounter, it makes deciding what you want to do in your next role that much easier AND you have the contacts to move there.  There are TAMs that decide to go purely technical and pick a technology they love.  Others go into sales.  Others still go into Project/Program Management.  The role truly is what you make of it. 

Balance – Like anything in life, this job will give you returns based on what you put into it.  The harder you work, the more it rewards you.  However, it also provides flexibility.  If you need to adjust your working hours one day (and as long as your customers don’t need you), you are free to make that adjustment.  If you want to work a 40-hour week, you can set those expectations with your customer. If you find yourself caught in a remote location (say for instance, a beach), yup, you can work from there too. 

Overall, the TAM role is an amazing opportunity at Microsoft.  You’ll gain insight into a broad range of Microsoft technologies and more importantly, how our customers are using them.  You’ll be given great responsibility and freedom to manage large accounts and have the opportunity to develop strategy side by side with some of our strategic partners around the world.  And when all is said and done, you’ll have an amazing springboard into the next role. 

Hopefully this has opened your eyes to the role of Technical Account Manager.  Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments and I’d be happy to try and answer them. 

Regards,

Tim

Comments (6)

  1. Ke Chen says:

    hmm interesting, a good description that's easily understandable of what a TAM's responsibilities are.  Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am interviewing for the TAM role, I am a computer engineer and have done my masters in MIS, I am currently working for a consulting company. My development/programming and computer science skills have taken a backseat, though i have a great foundation with my basics and concepts. My knowledge in Microsofts products stop at the User level. But i found myself relating to your starting paragrah, love technilogy but dont want to get typecasted into one specific arena. What are my chances of getting picked in an interview? Is there anyway you would mind sharing your email ID so i can contact you for more details? Great article! thanks for Posting!

  3. ike A says:

    Tim, is there any way i can contact you personally…i will be interviewing for the TAM role, and after reading your blog, i got rather excited about the opportunity, i have over 10yrs tech/helpdesk in software hardware n networking . i have simple questions about the Tech aspect of the job and interview. My email is ike1077@hotmail.com. any input will be highly appreciated.

  4. EGSP says:

    Hi Tim,

    I can identify with you in some aspects you mentioned. I worked previously at IBM as PM for 3 years and now I'm interested in a TAM vacancy at MSFT.

    According with your article, I guess both TAM and PM are very similar roles. Am I right? Would you like to give me your opinion?

    Regards!

  5. Deepak says:

    Hi Tim,

    I have few questions. Could you please give me your mail id or you can also mail me to deepakamath999@gmail.com

  6. Jeremy says:

    Sounds like they basically do a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing! Very vague-sounding job… but with a salary 2.5 times higher than my current one, it sounds like a pretty solid gig.

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