Employee Spotlight: Sean O'Connor

Volusion is what it is because of the people who work within its four walls. So we thought we’d tell you more about some of those people. What makes them tick? Why do they come to work each day? And what do they look forward to doing when they leave the office? In this Employee Spotlight series you’ll get a glimpse at one featured employee each month. This month we talked to Sean, who is a Senior Search Marketing Specialist.

What do you do here at Volusion?

I am a Senior Search Marketing Specialist on the internal Digital Marketing team. I specifically specialize in Google Shopping Feeds as part of our paid search department. I create, manage and optimize the feeds of Volusion merchants who come to us for marketing services. As Jacob once said, I make Google things happen.

How did you get into the field?

Surprisingly, I guess? I was an English major in college, with an emphasis on poetry and creative writing. As those fields pay the BIG BUCKS I supplemented by income by being a freelance real estate photographer as the housing market crept back to life. This lavish and stable lifestyle led me into Volusion’s open arms back in 2011 when a friend referred me for a customer-facing support role. A few hops and jumps later I came to the marketing department where I’ve been ever since.

How do I spin this writing background into working with Google Ads, excel documents and bids — numbers — all day? My little anecdote on that is that as a kiddo I was really into cartography. I used to travel around a lot growing up and our family car had these broadsheet-sized Rand McNally maps I would pour over. These maps were the first real case of me working with data, making connections and following this inherit logic of roadways. That interest now carries over into the campaign structures and the "how does this work" tinkering I do daily.


What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

Frustratingly, sometimes a campaign simply does not work. It simply isn’t effective. We’ll create a good baseline, optimize our feed appropriately, set competitive (and super competitive) bids and still not convert. There isn’t demand, we’re off-season. We check a lot of the "correct" boxes but we’re left with thin results. Recognizing this interplay from Google and then delivering this less-than-stellar news back to clients is tricky.

What are you most proud of in your career? What about outside of your career?

From the challenges of empathizing when a client isn’t performing well, the flip side of that is also true. I have a lot of pride in some of my earliest accounts who are continuing to grow and develop Amazon’s looming cloud. Having bailed out sinking ships and seen them turn profit quarter after quarter is rewarding, to me moreso than helping someone get their first sale.

Outside my career? Man, what a question. Whenever I get a large question like that I like to bring in back to what am I most proud about this week, just a microcosm of what I’m enjoying. To that end I’ve started up some creative art projects again that were on the backburner. In Autumn I tend to pursue a few new creative outlets and it’s always nice to restart a few of them.


What do you love most about Volusion?

I think it has to be the people who I’ve met and worked with these past seven plus years. I’ve been around for quite some time now and have met some of the funniest, wittiest and kind people. I’m been able to make some truly formative and foundational relationships with people all because of Volusion.


A snapshot from the Great Volusion Prank War of 2013.

What’s the first thing you do when you get off work?

There’s a low-hanging fruit joke about Austin traffic in here I will pass on. Honestly if there’s a pub with a nice porch and dark beer, you’ll probably find me there with some coworkers after 5 o’clock.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

As I write this, we’re currently in the "Autumn" phase of Austin temperatures, so my weekends are packed getting as much good weather time as I can manage. I hike a lot — I’ve been to just about every state park and long trail in a three-hour radius from Austin. I really do enjoy camping and hiking, but it’s not my cup of tea when its 105 degrees outside, so I need to utilize this time. Long drives into the hill country working on one of my photo projects would be an ideal Sunday. But I’ll also rattle off the usual checklist of literature, pub trivias and my shamelessly encyclopedic knowledge of the Game of Thrones universe for good measure.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

The fact that I don’t have a quick answer to this is either a) a very good thing or b) very very telling that I did something buckwild that I’m repressing. I’ve made some ill-advisable shortcuts while hiking which have changed my walks into swims and got kinda-sorta detained by French police after a wrong turn. Recently some buddies of mine drove down to the coast to celebrate the equinox with our toes in the sand super late minute so I’ll end with that.


One of my hikes in the Texas hill country

Where are you going on your next vacation?

I’ll have a familial adventure to upstate New York for the Thanksgiving holiday but my next big trip is up in the air. Earlier this year I flew off to London for a solo trip and had a lovely time, so I should really dust off the ol' Passport more often. I think a trip to the Scottish highlands is likely at the top of the list but cool mountains or clear waters may usurp it.


If you could open an online store, what would you sell?

One of my recent projects, as silly and as morbid as it sounds, has been about gilding animals skulls for ornamentation/décor. As clean, minimalist site with handcrafted pieces of things I’ve made would likely be on the list.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The only coffee I can handle anymore comes from our Volusion kitchen. Couple cups a day for over half a decade and my palate has completely changed.