If I’d told my sixth form tutor back in the day that I was going to become a Sales & Client Relationship Director in the IT Industry, she would’ve chuckled and made a quip about getting the grades to get there!
Fast forward 10 years and I look back, at what many would rightly consider to be a short career so far, with a feeling of accomplishment and a desire to tell anyone who feels uncertain of their abilities that you CAN achieve anything you put your mind to (unless like me, at one point, you dreamt of becoming a pro athlete but you have a hopeless addiction to pop tarts!).
At 17, I did what many people do. I looked at my options based on how the educational system presented it to me – was I academic or was I creative? Falling into the latter category, and without any insight into how my skills could be interpreted differently, I followed down the creative path and got a diploma in theatrical makeup artistry – a skill that I must say has come in very useful for many a Halloween party since!
During my diploma, I started to take stock of what my other skills and interests were and how I could apply them. Without relevant qualifications, I knew I had two options: spend money and take time out to go to university to gain a qualification or start at an entry level job with the ambition to work my way up. As working had always been a preference over structured education – I had worked outside of school hours since I was 14, from picking mushrooms to paper rounds and, as I got older, waitressing and working in coffee shops on the weekends – I decided to find myself a job that would lead to a career.
At 19, I applied for my first office job and got it, starting as an office receptionist responsible for general admin and viewings for an Estate Agents. Five years later, I left, having become a Sales Manager, Valuer, Sales Negotiator and qualified MNAEA Member of the National Association of Estate Agents. It was in this company that I really built up my skills in client relationship management, sales management and the power of marketing.
By this time, I had become aware that there was limited progression from where I was, so I decided to move into the more technical aspect of housing and development by applying to a company that worked with national house and commercial developers to meet their planning conditions and building regulation compliance.
I initially applied for a position as a Regional Client Relationship Manager but I was too late as the position had already been filled. Knowing this was a company I wanted to work for, I applied for a different role which was a Sales Support position and which many would consider to be a step backwards in my career. I saw it as a stepping-stone into a new industry and knew I could work my way up to the position I really wanted as I had the drive to do so. Within one year, I moved from Sales Support to Regional Client Relationship Manager to National Client Relationship Manager.
I was determined to progress further and push towards the next step in my career. The technical aspect of the business had always intrigued me and I started to consider a career in the Tech Industry. An associate introduced me to a company to which he was subcontracting at the time as they had an opening for a Sales Director and this is how I made the move into the Tech Industry.
Fast forward over a year and I am part of the fantastic company that is Infrastar. My ambition and desire for knowledge and personal development has been welcomed and encouraged. Fuelled by my experience in sales across a broad spectrum of industries, I am happily challenged every day whilst having the opportunity to work with some of the top contacts in the Industry and great customers from a wide range of industries.
If you ever find yourself doubting yourself, always remember ‘your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth’. Keep pushing forward and you will get to where you want to be.
Author: Katie Frost – Sales & Client Relationship Director