Featured Professional: Devon Henry
What’s your current position?
CRM Systems Business Lead
How long have you been at Wiley?
Where did you go to school?
Bachelors from Baruch College (CUNY), Masters from Rutgers University (Camden)
What degree did you receive?
Bachelors in Marketing Management with a Minor in Psych, Masters of Business Analytics
Give us a quick rundown of your career path. Where did you start, and how did you get to where you are now?
I started working for Wiley as a Student Partner (student ambassador for their digital learning platform) for 3.5 years. During this time, I worked with Wiley colleagues on student focused presentations and held office hours to help students acclimate to the platform. I continued to work with Wiley after graduation doing a variety of small projects until I was brought onboard as an Implementation Specialist (now the Customer Success Manager role). I would stay in this role for about 2+ years before transitioning into a sales role on the Inside Sales team. After almost 2 years, I transitioned to our Sales Operations team as our CRM Admin and Business Lead.
How would you describe your current role? What are some of the key activities you perform on a regular basis?
My current role tends to focus on helping our academic organization learn how to use our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. I design, liaise, train, and develop new/enhanced system functionality that is focused on improving user engagement and system usability. A lot of my job is focused on speaking with the different business leaders to understand what the current and future needs of the business is. Through these conversations I can outline what is needed and work with our developers provide context around what the ask is, why, and determine what is possible based on our technological capabilities. As well as working with end users to ensure that they are having the expected user experience when using the platform.
Top three skills you think are useful in your current job.
Critical thinking & problem solving – My job requires me to think constantly about what currently is, how to solve for problems that arise, and how to convey the necessary information to the various stakeholders. Without the ability to think critically and a solution oriented mindset, I don’t believe I would be able to be as impactful as I am.
Forward thinking – My job isn’t just to solve the issues we face now, but find solutions for issues that may come down the pipeline based on current decisions that are being made. As such, I spend a great deal of time looking ahead thinking about what else can we build? What will we need? Is there ways to make this process better?
Flexible mindset – Working with as many people as I do, with so many different wants can be overwhelming and restrictive at times. It is very important that I have a flexible mindset so that I can pivot when things need to be reprioritized or changed altogether. Sometimes we just need to stop working on something and move to something else for the time being. This can be very discomforting for some people, especially when you have invested time, resources, and energy into making something happen.
In what ways has your career trajectory deviated from the original plan you made when you first entered the workforce?
I initially thought that I would get a job working for a company in marketing or a typical 9-5 where I would move up in the company and one day own my own company. The deviation here isn’t that this isn’t what is happening but the ways in which it happens. I think I believed that it would be a linear process, and in many instances it hasn’t been. My first job at this company I got through connections and didn’t fully realize I was being interviewed for a role. My following roles I earned their my ability to demonstrate that I was a quick study and could do what I took as long as I put my mind to it.
Throughout this time, there was a set path for me in any of these roles. Most of them tend to be roles that people can easily get trapped in for decades. It is easy to become content with them as they do tend to settle into a routine. I realized that I don’t like feeling content with my work and would rather seek out new challenges as a means of personal and professional growth. As such I made sure to be vocal about my aspirations and courageous enough to advocate for myself at any opportunity.
How did/do you gain skills and experience that aligned with your career goals?
It might be silly to say, but I paid attention to everything I could. I knew very early on that I wouldn’t always be afforded the opportunity to simple spend time being taught what to do and how to do it, so rather than sit and fall into a content mindset I decided to make every day a learning opportunity. I tried all the technology applications we had access to internally and learned how to use them, sometimes spending hours of my own time really honing my skills. At work, I would watch my colleagues when they demonstrated something and take as detailed notes as possible and the attempt to do it myself. I even enrolled in “YouTube University” (not a real thing) to watch as many tutorial videos as possible so that I could train myself to understand technological design and implementation. This allowed me to instinctively learn how to use applications I never even knew existed. And where possible I reached out to others to see if they could share their knowledge with me.
All to say that I invested time and effort into learning what I wanted and continued to do so. Whether it is YouTube, EdX, LinkedIn Learning, or Coursera there are many ways to upskill yourself as you grow in your career. You must take the time to do the one thing that many people may not do for you, invest in yourself.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone during their job search?
The one piece of advice I would give someone during your job search, is to never turn down a job just because you are afraid you won’t be good at it. Fear is a mechanism that allows us to stay grounded. It can be debilitating, but it can also provide the much needed kick in the butt to strive for excellence. Every new job I accept I am typically filled with fear. Fear that I won’t do well, that others won’t be like the people I used to work with, that my manager won’t understand how to manage and inspire my talents, fear that the company will eliminate my role. There is enough fear in my mind to cripple a large mammal, yet I push paste it to prove to myself at the very least that I can do what I set my mind to.
Do you have any regrets about your career path/journey so far? Did you make any mistakes along the way that you wish you hadn’t?
It is hard to say I don’t have a few regrets. I regret not changing my major to something more technical in college, I regret that I didn’t apply for more technical roles when I was younger, I regret that I didn’t see the value in my talents sooner. But those are fleeting thoughts. Because I think about at times when I made hard decisions and they paid off. Times when I could have chosen something else and down the road I realized that it wouldn’t have been right for me. So, I regret some things in the sense that I wish I knew how it would have impacted my life, but I doubt if I were given the chance I would go back and change it.
As for my mistakes, I have made a good amount. None I will share here (sorry), but the one thing I learned is that mistakes aren’t bad things. You may feel bad in the moment, you may feel embarrassed or disappointed in yourself for a time, but that passes. Making mistakes gives us the opportunity to learn something new, something we shouldn’t do, a way not to do something, which at times teaches us the right way to get something do. Your mistakes are the footnotes to your journey in life, don’t be afraid to make them. I would be more concerned with living a life without them, the pressure that would accumulate on one’s shoulders would be massive. Being perfect is a burden. Being flawed is human.
Did you face any obstacles and how did you overcome them?
I have faced a few obstacles along the way. One of the biggest ones I faced when joining the workforce was getting over my fear of speaking public (or at all). I didn’t like talking in front of others, I didn’t particularly like hearing my own voice, and the thought of standing in front of people and giving a speech horrified me. I had to learn to be comfortable even when I wasn’t. Projecting an air of confidence even when I was frightened. Eventually my fear began to melt, and my projection became my default state. At times I do still get nervous about presentations and speaking, but more times than none, I feel ready to put on a great performance.
Another obstacle I faced was that I didn’t learn the way others did. So being taught was hard for me because my brain worked completely differently than that of my peers. I had to first understand how I learned and find ways to help me. I spent so much time reinventing wheels just so I could understand some of the basic concepts people may take for granted. But in time I trained myself to be more flexible in my learning process.
I still need to use the various tips and tricks I developed in my youth to learn, but I have found ways to ensure that I am not missing out on knowledge. Whether it is diagramming a problem, having technology read something to me multiple times, or using music to help open new neural pathways while doing an exercise, I have learned how to process and compute information in a manner that suits me.
Do you have any interview tips?
The best tip I believe I can give anyone when it comes to interviewing is to think of the interview as a conversation and not an interrogation. This was something that I used to find hard when I was first interviewing for jobs. I felt that I was just meant to sit there and answer questions in hopes they liked me and thought I was qualified. What I never took into consideration was the fact that this wasn’t a one-way street, but a multi-directional avenue. One where I was interviewing them just as much as they were interviewing me. Once I started to rephrase the narrative I was able to determine what was a good fit for me in a organization and what wasn’t.
Remember that interviewers are looking for someone who they believe fits the company culture, team dynamics, and their own preconceptions of good work. The same can be said for candidates. WE are looking for a company that has values we can align with, a culture the empowers us and grows our skills, and ultimately some place we would like to want to go to daily without resentment.