Another friend from my days at Old Dominion! Tom read the article in our Alumni Magazine and contacted me. It was great to reconnect with him! Here is his story….
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am the Director of Sales & Marketing Novozymes North America
Q: What do you do?
A: I manage a staff of Sales, Marketing, and Research professionals dedicated to identifying biological solutions to some of the world’s most challenging consumer problems. Develop sales and marketing strategies for biological products that assist companies such as Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, and Nestle in the development of insulin for diabetes, environmentally friendly detergents, and trans-fat free foods, just to name a few. Negotiate contractual agreements for these partnerships with the intent of developing new sales in a 2-3 year time horizon. Develop new product launch, sales tools, promotional and PR materials. Have to understand our customer’s business as well as if not better than our own. Coach and mentor fellow colleagues and employees on their own job performance and career advancement. Consult regularly with internal government relations team and congressional groups in Washington DC on the benefits of biotech in modern society. Company spokesperson locally and internationally.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: For 12 of the last 20 years
Q: If no, what was your prior profession and what made you change your profession?
A: Golf professional, Specialty Chemical Sales and Adjunct Marketing Professor. I am always looking for a new challenge, building on past experiences with a desire to increase responsibility and income.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: Sincere interest in Science and the challenge of growing a business while helping others.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: Very dynamic. The position and industry itself is highly attractive right now as society demands environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemistry. It requires a comprehensive skill set, excellent communication skills, desire to innovate and help others.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to college. 4 yrs. Old Dominion University; BSBA. 4 yrs part time while working, Widener University; Masters in Business Administration and Environmental Science.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: Yes, primarily in terms of organizational, time management, and communication skills that are essential to success in the corporate world. A Master’s degree prepared me as a better leader with the ability to find consensus amongst diverse teams. That said, certain skills such as financial modeling, business plan development, and project management have also been critical. As for the technical (science) aspect whatever I learned but forgot in school is typically refreshed on the job or with supplemental education.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: Yes, too numerous to list.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
A: Not required but I take frequent advantage of internal and external workshops around leadership, innovation, and public speaking. Usually one to two short courses per year.
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: 25% consulting with customers and project teams via conference call, video, or in person, 30% internal meetings with employees, strategy groups, and executive management, 30% travel domestically and internationally, 15% interfacing with local universities, government agencies, attending trade shows and conferences. Every day is different.
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: You must be well versed in a lot of technical but also societal matters with a passion for science, strong work ethic, leading others, excellent communication skills (verbal and written), visionary, self-aware, and results oriented.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: Yes, 75 days travel in US, about 4 weeks internationally to Europe and South America.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: 50-80 hrs/week depending upon time of year and priorities not counting travel or entertainment.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The opportunity to work with some of the world’s most esteemed business professionals and scientists. I have visited 26 countries and met with people ranging from President Bush to Bill Gates through my job. Every day is different and requires a lot of diverse skills. Trying to explain to my kids what I actually do.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: Occasionally too much travel, time away from the family. The stress of managing a large business unit when sales aren’t going so well. Internal politics and bureaucracy. Having to dismiss a poor performing employee.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: First, study whatever subject you have a passion for be it English, Chemistry, Art, Nuclear science, etc, the money will come later if you’re creative and work hard.
The career advice I typically give others is a function of three things:
1) Everyone has their own unique skills and competencies. Know and leverage them by connecting even the most minor ones with the job you wish to pursue.
2) Keep a robust network of contacts alive (easy in the internet age).
3) Demonstrate more enthusiasm than anyone else for whatever you endeavor to do.
*If you want to pursue a business career even with a specialization in Marketing you’re better off with an MBA on top of any of the aforementioned skills rather than pursuing a BSBA as an undergraduate – just my opinion.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession? If no, why not?
A: Yes, but life’s a windy road. I was fortunate to make some good decisions along the way combined with a little luck. Now that I’m in the midst of four different careers I’ve probably held 11 or 12 actual job titles. The hard part continues to be making decisions about what path to take in the future; i.e take an overseas assignment or a lateral position when you feel a promotion might be around the corner. The key is to be flexible but keep building upon your experience and welcome change.
Q: Are you having fun?
A: Absolutely, but I’m 42 and still not sure what I want to do when I grow up. If you’re not having fun, don’t waste time whining about it, those are precious minutes you could be spending on the next great idea.
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?