Melanie Chandruang | Supporting Creative Agencies and Best Practices for Building a Remote Team’s Company Culture
Smart Business Revolution

Melanie Chandruang is the Founder of WeConsult, a consultancy that helps agencies scale by optimizing their operations and strategizing infrastructure around financials, HR, culture, and overall workflows in business. Melanie helps creative agencies set up their day to day operations in order to run profitably. She has more than 10 years of experience handling all the in’s and out’s of business administration for agencies, startups, and tech companies. 

Melanie Chandruang, the Founder of WeConsult, joins John Corcoran in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast to talk about her work supporting creative agencies in building better workflows. Melanie also shares her tips for building a company culture for a remote team, strategies to prevent employee burnout, and talks about the hiring challenges agencies have been facing. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Melanie Chandruang’s experience working at a custom development shop and how she rose through the ranks to operations manager
  • What makes a good manager and how can you spot an employee with good management potential?
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic impacted agencies 
  • Best practices for building a company culture for a remote team
  • Melanie talks about the hiring challenges agencies have been facing and shares her advice on preventing employee burnout
  • How Melanie used a culture audit to help a client solve high turnover rates
  • The peers Melanie respects and where to learn more about her

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. You know, if you’re new to this show, go check out some of our past episodes because you got all kinds of interesting episodes with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs from companies ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And quick shout out to Karl Sakas of Sakas & Company, who introduced me to today’s guest. And our guest is Melanie Chandruang. Hopefully I’m saying that correctly. She’s the founder. 

Melanie Chandruang 01:12

Yes, nailed it. 

John Corcoran 01:14

She is the founder of WeConsult, a consultancy helping agencies scale through optimizing their operations, and especially lies in strategizing infrastructure around financials, HR and culture, and overall workflows in business. And we’re talking about some of the changes that are happening in our economy with the acceleration of digitization that’s happened through the pandemic. And we’ll we’ll talk all about that. Of course, this episode brought to you by Rise25 Media where we help b2b businesses, clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. Go to, or email us at [email protected] to learn all about it. Alright, Melanie, excited to have you here today. And you got an interesting background, having worked in a number of different agencies, and then now done consulting with different agencies. And I’ve done other interviews where I’ve talked about this agencies, digital agencies, in particular have been really on the forefront of the massive changes that have happened in our economy, because so many companies have been thrust ahead five to 10 years. We know really making them to work remotely making them to digitize their, their processes. So I think it’s gonna be interesting conversation that you started first at a custom development shop. And part of the inspiration to what you do now is you had a manager who was not a great manager. In spite of that you started as an admin, you worked away. Yep. So yeah, something went right. But tell me about that experience.

Melanie Chandruang 2:51

Yeah, well, first of all, thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be on this. Yeah, my career, that’s kind of what I, you know, say as the was the starting point of my career, I did not study any of this. I went to, you know, undergrad for Child Development of all things. And then I totally pivoted, and got a job at a startup. And the reason I took that job was because there was a ton of growth opportunity. And yeah, I did, I started as an admin assistant, and I went on to become the operate operations manager at that agency and learned the ropes, I was able to learn a lot on that job. However, the unfortunate part was that I did have a really, he was a really tough manager to have, you know, there was a lot of turnover as a result of his management style. And I was there for five years. So I really, you know, I got the brunt of it. And I’m not someone that really, you know, just sits and just follows along the process, I’m always going to point out what can be improved. That’s essentially what I do now. And so it’s always been in me, but it’s really hard to to be in that situation when the person is not receptive to change at all. And that was the case over and over that, you know, he had to learn that the hard way, because there was turnover the entire time that I was there. Yeah.

John Corcoran 4:16

Yeah, there’s some people that are just bad bosses bad, you know, just kind of jerks in general. Maybe there’s some people that are, you can’t, you can’t do anything for them. But for those that you you can, what do you do? Where do you start? It sounds like it was a lot of different things that was contributing to the turnover and contributing to the culture.

Melanie Chandruang 4:34

Mm hmm. I don’t think he’s a bad person. I’m still in touch with him till this day. And I think it’s just lack of awareness around what makes a good manager and I think that’s the case for a lot of companies. You know, they will promote someone that’s really senior in their role to become a manager. Because if they’re really great at you know, designing or developing or whatever the expertise may be, they’ve got to be able to to teach other people how to do this and, and be a, you know, contribute more contributing member of the organization and that is sometimes furthest from the truth. Those people sometimes should not be managers, it takes a very specific skill set to become a manager. So,

John Corcoran 5:17

yeah, right and and how do you spot someone who has good management potential?

Melanie Chandruang 5:22

Hmm, I think someone that is an inherently good listener, I think that really does go a long way. And that they want to offer themselves up as a supporting person to that person’s growth. I think that is really the key to what makes a good manager if I can spot that they really do care about the well being of other people and the career of, you know, other people’s careers within the organization, that is what is going to make a good manager. There can’t be any ego behind it. And and they also need to have an understanding of the bigger goals of the organization too. Because that person is going to have to align whoever their direct reports are with the goals of the company. And that, you know, just makes it a great. Yeah, relationship.

John Corcoran 6:21

Alright, I want to go back to March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, and recording this in March of 2022. So it’s two years on. But take us back to, you know, what that experience was like for you personally, and also what you observed with other companies and agencies and how they’re impacted at the beginning, and then as it unfolded over the months, following the beginning of the pandemic, at least as it hit North America?

Melanie Chandruang 6:48

Yeah, yeah. I mean, my observation was that it was a really scary time for agencies, I mean, all types of companies, but agencies, in particular, I did see a lot of companies just go through a hiring and spending freeze, they just paused everything, because they weren’t sure what was going to be happening with their their clients, whether they were still going to be able to keep those streams of revenue coming in. And so yeah, it was a very scary time. You know, fortunately, I was able to, I was only working with one client at that time, and I was able to continue working with them. And they did have a freeze on spending, but I kind of just made it in there at the last minute. And we forged ahead with operations. But yeah, it was a that at first, and then I think in the months that followed a lot of agencies, then, you know, we’re realizing that we weren’t going to go back into a physical office. And so then it was this huge shift from working in an office atmosphere to this temporary remote work to, okay, we really need to get our remote infrastructure in place, because this is a permanent situation for our organization, we really need to make some shifts here. So that was a, you know, kind of the sequence of events, and then from there, from, you know, focus on remote work and remote Best Practices It was then it was then, you know, going through this crazy crazy, you know, I guess, landscape that we’re in right now with hiring and that it’s so competitive, and also that their businesses, some of their businesses ended up growing during the pandemic as well. So all, you know, resulted in some broken processes and infrastructure. And and so yeah,

John Corcoran 8:46

so many Sony agencies, you know, initially were scared and either had hiring freezes or layoffs or something like that. And then before they knew it, they needed to hire people, because, you know, they, they had clients that wanted to invest in digital marketing or whatever. And, and so it was interesting, how that changed things. And did you find that the the agencies you were working with at the time that they were prepared for this? Or did they have a lot of work to do in order to make it work during the remote period?

Melanie Chandruang 9:20

No, I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. From a founder standpoint, no, I think it was a lot for founders to have that. I think riding on their shoulders, leading their company through this really, really uncertain time, I think was scary, and I don’t think anyone could have prepared for it. I think from a financial standpoint, some companies were prepared for it if they had, you know, three months or 30% of their revenue in savings, they had some cushion to really fall back on and and they didn’t have to make some drastic measures like cutting employees and and lay off. So there, yes, some preparedness, but yeah, others did not so Right,

John Corcoran 10:05

right. And then let’s talk about building that remote culture. And some of the things that you’ve observed agencies do in order to, you know, replace whatever they were doing locally, maybe it was happy hours, maybe it was just hanging out in person or having lunch in the conference room, to building culture remotely, what were some what are some best practices?

Melanie Chandruang 10:26

Yeah, um, I think it’s really understanding that communication is, I mean, obviously, within any organization, communication is key. But now when you’re remote communication is so important. And so making sure that there are open flows of communication, you know, from the employees up to the management, and then back down to the employees, it needs to go both ways. That’s a huge one. You know, that’s communication, I, I look at that as a piece of culture, because that really does create a foundation for for the culture at large. And yeah, you can throw fun things into bond, the team like lunches where everyone gets together, you can do all hands meetings is something that I saw a lot of agencies do continue on remotely is, you know, the, they would still meet every morning to discuss what everyone was working on, or however they had, whatever that forum looked like for them at an all hands. And then yeah, sprinkling in like some fun, happy hours. But I think one of the biggest culture pieces is to make sure that each employee has a one on one check in with their manager, and really utilizing that time to find out how they’re doing. Because it’s really difficult to do that in a remote atmosphere. If you’re in an office, it may just happen organically, you see someone there kind of, you know, not themselves, you can ask them how they’re doing in in remote work, you can’t see how they are unless they’re on right for their meeting. And so I think having really managers that are really tuned in to what they need to be doing during their check ins.