[Brand New] Meet Duncan Field


(Duncan Field) #1

Do you currently manage a community?
I’m a brand new community manager - I’ve been following the crash course model over the past nine months, and we’re launching the first phase of our community now. I’m a rookie, but hoping to learn and develop quickly.

I’m currently developing and managing a community for our organization, and slowly bringing in other organizations over the next twelve months once we work out some of the kinks.

What career path brought you to where you are now?
My career path doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it all made sense at the time. I started off going to school to study Psychology (I wanted to be a therapist). At school I fell in love with Philosophy, Law, and Justice. I took a few shortcuts and went to law school, only to leave halfway through to pursue work in the charity sector as a researcher. That’s how I landed this job, which is a cool mixture of research and project development. The CM piece is one of the projects I’m overseeing, and the one I’m most excited for. I don’t know what the typical path of a CM is, but I imagine many people have strange paths like mine.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
For me, the biggest challenge is that I don’t have an IT background. There are certain aspects of the job that require technical or coding skills (customization, development), and I feel like that has been a limiting factor for me. Luckily I have a good IT team in the organization, and we’re working on a great platform that does most of what we want out of the box.

Another challenging part is that the idea of a community is fairly new to our org. It has been a really exciting challenge to shape our vision of what a community actually does and what it looks like. This includes all of the classic pitfalls - including the big launch. Feverbee has been a huge resource to help this part of the job.

What’s the best job you ever had that wasn’t in community management and does it inform your CM work in any way?
I’ve had a lot of jobs in research, including in law and social services. Those jobs were great because you have a huge amount of leeway and freedom to accomplish your goals, and you get to really follow interesting threads towards a larger goal. I feel that those jobs have helped me dive into the complicated (and sometimes frustratingly subjective) world of CM, and write persuasive policy pieces to outline what we need to do, and how to grow something that will last.

At the end of the day, this is a job that is stretching me. I’m very thankful for the huge amount of support offered here and by other CMs.

(Nikoletta Harrold) #2

Hi @duncanfield - it is super interesting to see where people come from into the Community manager world. We are all different with varying skillsets and yet we all have a great potential for our jobs, I think that’s what I love most about being a CMGR, it truly is an equal opportunity role for all.

What is your community about? Is there anything that we can help you with today that would make some of the challenges you are facing a little less daunting?

(Courtney Howell) #3

Hi @duncanfield. Thanks for sharing your experiences so far! I’m barely 3 months in, so I’m very interested in hearing what other new CMs are dealing with.

This line stuck out to me b/c so far, I’ve found it to be true. I’m guessing part of this is because the role itself is relatively new, or is at least gaining more mainstream popularity within organizations.

I also am with you on the IT challenges. These past few weeks, especially, as my role and responsibilities continue to grow, I keep bumping up against technical hurdles. It’s great to have an awesome team (like you mentioned), but it’s frustrating to have to wait (and embarrassing if you mess something up…yep that happened). Do you think you’ll try to acquire some of those technical skills or do you have too many other things to focus on right now?

Good luck moving forward with your community!

(Piper_Wilson) #4

Hello @duncanfield

I enjoyed reading your introduction. I’m glad your IT folks are helpful. I used to feel like the engineers were speaking a completely different language, even though I could recognize the words they were using were English.

Your enthusiasm really stands out. I find myself smiling and looking forward to your next steps right along with you!

(Duncan Field) #5

We’re a collection of faith-based charities. The purpose of the community is to connect charities who are solving similar problems (something they’ve been asking for for years, and connecting groups of people that have been existing separately under a single banner.

We’re hoping to follow something like the reddit model, where each group or collective is relatively autonomous, but surrounded by a shared/common space.

Our stakeholders seem really excited so far, but I’m trying to slow things down a bit so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves.

(Duncan Field) #6


Thanks for your message. I’m excited to be working on this because I have spent (and continue to spend) too much time on communities. This is really a project that fell into my lap, as it had been sitting on the backburner due to capacity issues.

(Duncan Field) #7

I don’t really know to what extent I’ll be picking up some of those skills. It seems like a relatively steep learning curve for something like coding/debugging, but I’m trying to get a good idea of what things are essential and what things are not. What have your thoughts on this been?

How did you get involved in CM?

(Sarah Hawk) #8

You don’t need to know any code at all, but a broad understanding of markup languages can be handy.

Courses like this one a Codecademy are great.