This week’s spotlight is on Matthew Tisdale, MA, CCC-SLP, PMP, a non-clinical speech-language pathologist who now works as Consumer Sales Manager at Lingraphica!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Matthew Tisdale, MA, CCC-SLP, PMP
Consumer Sales Manager at Lingraphica
What additional roles do you currently have?
I am one of three program managers in the consumer business program at Lingraphica. I manage a team of consultants and training specialists.
As a program manager, I optimize and implement new processes, as well as strategize on program initiatives.
I manage projects that contribute to program growth across the consumer business value stream, ultimately delivering a product to the client (i.e., a speech-generating device for a person with aphasia).
Where are you located?
Where did you go to SLP school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I worked as a speech therapist in the acute care setting for six years. One of those years was doing travel therapy.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
I worked in the following settings:
- Long-term acute care hospital (LTACH)
- Skilled nursing facility (SNF)
I treated clients for swallowing, aphasia, trach/vent, and head and neck diagnoses.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
Initially, I enjoyed being able to apply my newly learned skills from grad school, collaborating with nurses and physicians, working in a fast-paced environment, and overall teamwork.
After a few years, I tried to reinvent myself by changing hospitals and settings. However, that was only temporary.
I began to feel a sense of boredom, grinding away to meet a productivity standard, and having a sense of clinical plateau after only six years in the profession!
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I transitioned to a more non-clinical role in 2016 as a clinical consultant. I served as a consultant and subject matter expert to other speech therapists. Essentially, I trained the trainer with a consultative sales approach to fit their clients with a speech-generating device.
What are you doing these days?
My title is Consumer Business Program Sales Manager. Prior to this role, I held the title of Senior Clinical Technology Consultant for two years and, before that, my title was Clinical Consultant for four years.
I have worked on various projects, big and small. One of the larger projects I worked on was building out a clinical educator program and hiring contract in-service providers in 2018.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I no longer treat patients as a speech therapist.
As a program manager, I am in a coach-player role. To stay current with the product and trends, one-third of my time is allocated to training clients and communication partners after a stroke. The remaining time is spent coaching others and managing the program.
How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve spent more than six months in my role as a Consumer Business Program Sales Manager. I held the title of Senior Clinical Technology Consultant for two years, and spent four years before that with the title of Clinical Consultant. I am coming up on seven years at my current company.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
I made the initial transition into my role with my speech background. Along the way, I earned the Project Management Professional (PMP®️) certification. Recently, I wanted to know more about running Agile projects, so I earned the Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) certification.
Editor’s note: Read more about the career path of scrum master and agility coach in this spotlight on Uju Onyilagha, DPT!
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
I found my job on ZipRecruiter. I got lucky with a cold application submission!
When I interviewed, I said I would move anywhere (within reason, of course). Geographic location wasn’t critical, so I moved from California to Texas. I still have a pick-up-and-move spirit!
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
I can’t remember entirely. I believe my clinical resume was sufficient for my initial role. However, these days non-clinical career changers need to develop their resumes to stand out from the crowd.
My resume looks nothing like it did back in 2016. Last year, I invested in myself to update my resume and work with a resume writer. It’s important to always stay current.
What was the interview like for the role?
I remember going through five or six rounds of interviews. It was a series of phone interviews and GoTo Meeting calls. Then, I traveled to the home office to meet leadership and give a presentation—it was a lot!
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Everyone’s reaction has been favorable. I went from a clinical speech therapist to consulting within the industry, so it made sense to people.
I maintain my license. However, career-wise, I identify as a project manager, program manager, and consultant these days.
I’ll keep you posted if new reactions roll in after this spotlight!
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
A typical day is filled with meetings and Zoom!
I collaborate with other program managers on enhancing new processes and strategizing on new initiatives. Because I work within a program that is a wheel cog in a larger system, there is a lot of cross-departmental collaboration.
I have a team of five direct reports and meet with everyone weekly. Other responsibilities include:
- Analyzing data and metrics
- Managing projects
- Managing a small pipeline working with clients
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
One of the many rewards is working with a cohesive team to deliver a product that can help improve someone’s quality of life. I enjoy the data analysis and seeing the business grow, based off of the initiatives we introduced—it’s great to see how it all comes together to deliver value.
One challenge that can occur is knowing when to Slack, Zoom, email, or pick up the phone to find a solution. As a remote employee, you must be cognizant of your level of engagement with your teammates, especially as a manager.
How did your clinical background prepare you for your consumer sales manager role?
My clinical background was important for the position because the product is specifically for clients with a communication disorder diagnosis.
It was also important for me to be relatable and have industry knowledge. I use this to train speech therapists on the product and strategize how to use a speech-generating device with their patients.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
The type of person that would excel in my role is someone who can:
- Relate to other rehab professionals
- Empathize with clients
- Understand the bottom line to move the product down the line to the point of sale
- Nurture relationships and set boundaries simultaneously
- Work autonomously
- Manage their own schedule
- Stay accountable to deliver on their key metrics/goals
As you can imagine, teamwork is huge, too!
Do you work remotely or onsite?
I work fully remote. Prior to COVID, I traveled to hospitals to present the company’s products and services.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
We have a lot of SLPs at the company; some more clinical and some completely non-clinical. A few functional areas where SLPs are housed within the company are consulting, documentation/compliance, marketing, and customer engagement.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
I obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP®️) certification and Scrum Master certification to explore the field of project management and working in an agile environment.
I attend webinars and read articles frequently on pmi.org. Anyone can join; there’s a lot of cool stuff on there if you are interested in project or program management.
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
I’m not sure what a typical career path would be. However, I know many have moved into program management, marketing management, project management, systems, and product management—it’s all on the table.
Eager to launch your own non-clinical career?
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
The next step for me is leaning more into the project management space. I am definitely in exploratory mode as I write this.
My areas of interests are project management, product owner, solutions architect, program management, consultant for a consulting firm…so many options out there to grow my career.
I’m not tied to the healthcare industry anymore. I want to continue to develop my skills and work on complex projects. A high-level career aspiration would be working on projects on a global scale.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
Learn about the business world sooner, specifically during your clinical specialization.
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
I would say: tell yourself it’s okay to pivot, grow, and give yourself grace if you decide clinical work is not for you.