Cascading Leadership - The Show

Making a Mid-Career Switch Without Ever Submitting an Application

February 23, 2023 Jim Season 3 Episode 10
Cascading Leadership - The Show
Making a Mid-Career Switch Without Ever Submitting an Application
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Dr. Jim and Lawrence welcome Stephanie Davis to Cascading Leadership to discuss navigating a career change as a mid-career professional. 

Stephanie speaks from her own experience on how to switch functional areas of expertise and what factors to consider when making a transition in a career.

Dr. Jim transitions to talking about the difficulty of transitioning from one career to another, especially when compounded with issues of race and gender.

Dr. Jim interviews Stephanie, a former financial services professional, to discuss her transition from finance to her current career. Stephanie had always been interested in money and business and decided to pursue a degree in economics and finance. 

She started out in financial services and eventually transitioned to her current career. She talks about the challenges she faced navigating the change and provides advice to others who may be looking to do the same. 

She encourages people to take opportunities and be open to possibilities, while also reminding them to take time to understand the industry they're entering and build relationships. She also emphasizes the importance of knowing yourself and your strengths and weaknesses.



Navigating a Career Change as a Mid-Career Professional


Navigating Career Transitions and Overcoming Challenges of Race and Gender


Navigating Career Change and Her Experience in Business and Economics


Early Career in Finance and Technology


Conversation on Transitioning from Buy Side to Sell Side of Financial Services


Conversation on Career Transitions and Relationship Building


The Power of Relationships and Networking in Achieving Success


Navigating a Career Switch with Stephanie Davis


Conversation on Navigating the Buyer-Seller Relationship for Career Success

Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera

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[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: welcome to another episode of Cascading Leadership. I am your friendly neighborhood talent nerd, Dr. Jim and with me is our very own deep voiced co-host 

[00:00:09] LB: lawrence Brown, otherwise known as lb, 

[00:00:12] Dr. Jim: hello, L. 

[00:00:13] LB: Hey, how are you? 

[00:00:14] Dr. Jim: That's a very muted muted response, but 

[00:00:17] LB: my voice sounded really big when I said it the first time, so I was trying to mellow it out, 

[00:00:21] Dr. Jim: no, that's a, that's the whole point of you being on the show is for your big voice.

[00:00:24] Dr. Jim: That's the only thing that you bring to it. So that's why I have you around,

[00:00:27] LB: Not the good look or great sense of humor or intellect, any of that. 

[00:00:30] Dr. Jim: No. Actually your wife actually put me up to that, so she you can get mad at her. 

[00:00:34] Dr. Jim: Today we're doing a feature topic and the topic is focused on navigating a career change, but specifically navigating a career change as a mid-career professional.

[00:00:44] Dr. Jim: And in this particular episode we're gonna talk through, How you switch functional areas of expertise and what you need to think about in terms of preparing for that move and what factors you need to consider as you're navigating that transition. So with us, we have our featured [00:01:00] guest who's gonna speak from personal experience.

[00:01:02] Stephanie Davis: Lawrence. Jim, pleasure to be with you. 

[00:01:05] Stephanie Davis: I'm Stephanie Davis. I'm speaking to you from my newly designed home office in Boston, Massachusetts.

[00:01:12] Stephanie Davis: I grew up here, I've grown up in the Boston area, went to school here, earned a a degree in. Economics Finance from Bentley University. At the time it was Bentley College. I was actually born in the Bronx but have, lived and worked here in the Boston area. My, my mother was working in the it field when it was punch cards, . My dad was a a reporter, journalist, newsman. We moved from New York to Boston when I was around four five to live with my paternal grandmother. and great-grandmother, my father and mother separated.

[00:01:51] Stephanie Davis: But the thought was that I would, it would be better for me. I'm an only child, by the way, to be here in Boston [00:02:00] with my grandparents while I was going to school. So from, yeah, I'd say from the age of four to the present, I've lived and worked here in the Boston area. Attended private schools, both in grammar and high school, and then, as I said, earned a degree in economics and finance from Bentley University, which is a, it's a business school located in Walham, Massachusetts.

[00:02:25] Dr. Jim: Now, before we get into the meat of the conversation, I probably have the most important question that you're ever gonna be asked in the history of important questions, and that is how big of a Red Sox and Patriots fan are you? Because this is gonna shape the rest of the conversation 

[00:02:40] Stephanie Davis: I'm a Homer. I'm a Red Sox fan all the way. I used to work. Little aside, I used to work at Fenway Park and my some of my earliest growing up experiences were with the red Sox, just enjoying sports in general. And Boston is a very sports b Boston is a sports team.

[00:02:59] Stephanie Davis: I can say that [00:03:00] I remember. When the Patriots weren't the Patriots, The past 20 years, they were the laughing stuck of the N F L. But it's been a great, these past 20, 25 years have been a great run for all the teams. So I'm a total, I'm a total sports homer. Love them all. Let follow fall sports in general.

[00:03:18] Stephanie Davis: But yes, red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins Revolution.

[00:03:22] Dr. Jim: I think I'll put this disclaimer out. We have a very broad audience and I would like to think that our audience is pretty understanding. So I'm fairly confident that they won't hold your fandom against you.

[00:03:33] Dr. Jim: When we get into the meat of the conversation. I hinted at this in the beginning of the of the show. Whenever you're making a transition from one career to another, that's a difficult transition to navigate, and it becomes increasingly more difficult the older that you get and the more technical a field that you're in.

[00:03:50] Dr. Jim: And then when you compound issues of race and gender into that conversation, it can be. Sometimes overwhelming in navigating that change. And that's that's part of [00:04:00] the reason why I wanted to have you on the show because we've known each other for quite a while and I know the transition that you navigated and I think it would be an important conversation to share your learnings of how you pulled it off so that other people that are looking.

[00:04:15] Dr. Jim: Doing the same thing, have an easier path and can, avoid some of the roadblocks that they might encounter. I wanna wind it back a little bit and, talk through, your sort of college experience. We touched on a little bit of your early background but you came into the world of work coming out of a business focused and economics focused career and degree path.

[00:04:38] Dr. Jim: Why did you land in those two areas, and then how did that shape, what sort of early career opportunities you sought out? 

[00:04:45] Stephanie Davis: I've always been fascinated by money, business commerce, and , how, what is the system for understanding how all that ties together?

[00:04:57] Stephanie Davis: So it seemed logical [00:05:00] that, and I've read some economics. I would just read it informally and I thought this is interesting. Why don't I, why don't I pursue this line of study? And because it's a unique, Bentley has, that's a unique degree. It's not an economics major. With a finance minor or vice versa.

[00:05:18] Stephanie Davis: It's economics, finance. So it gave me an opportunity to study both of those disciplines. Part theory, part application.

[00:05:27] Dr. Jim: When drawing you into that path there was an initial level of attraction or fascination with it how did you end up landing? , you spent quite a bit of time and I and I don't want to, get too far ahead in the story, but you started out in financial services a as the early part of your career.

[00:05:43] Dr. Jim: What was it about that particular sector that attracted you and drove you to it? 

[00:05:47] Stephanie Davis: As one graduates, one has to say now how am I going to earn some money? So I started applying for jobs and I sent an application into a company called Technical Data, which is then a [00:06:00] division of Thompson Financial Services.

[00:06:02] Stephanie Davis: And I received an interview, and when I went into the interview and was offered the position, it was a position as a technical analyst. For the foreign exchange desk of technical data and it, I said, why am I being considered for this position? Why did I get it? It's, I knew one thing I knew multiple things, but the one thing that was attractive was Excel.

[00:06:23] Stephanie Davis: Cuz Excel. Now, interestingly enough, I never used Excel in the position, but what we were doing is to, technical data would provide third party objective. Institu advisory services to the institutional investor investment community. So hedge funds, trading desks high net worth investors who are.

[00:06:44] Stephanie Davis: putting want to know where to allocate their funds. And so that was what, that's what the business model of technical data was at that time. And the foreign exchange market is the largest financial market in the world still. So they were [00:07:00] looking for someone who could, a, write and B perform analysis short to media term analysis.

[00:07:07] Stephanie Davis: for the readers of that service, which was disseminated through the Dow Jones tell rate system, which is now, the part of the Wall Street Journal. But and that, that's how I got my start. So I was a technical analyst on the foreign exchange desk, and the thing I liked about it was that, that I would receive calls, From customers reading the page saying what do you think about asking me what I thought about the markets?

[00:07:32] Stephanie Davis: That made me feel, that made me feel important. I like that. And it also as part of the job, we would, all the analysts, not just myself, would receive calls from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, reers. To give commentary on the direction of the markets. And so anytime the markets were moving anytime the Fed was going to be meeting, they would ask for all of our opinion on the markets.

[00:07:59] Stephanie Davis: And so [00:08:00] that gave me an opportunity to not just to do something technical, but to translate that into something practical. People found valuable. So it was a nice, it was a nice way for me to apply my analytical skills, but it was also good communication builder, and it was great for confidence. So that's what I found, and I enjoyed that type of interaction.

[00:08:22] LB: Was there anything in your upbringing or your parents or any exposure to any particular segment of society that kind of piqued your interest to take you down that path?

[00:08:31] Stephanie Davis: Maybe it's a good question. Maybe part of it is, as an only child, I enjoyed reading. I was very much, I'm a self-motivated person and I'm also someone I think I'm in. I am intellectually curious, so I just pay attention to the news. And you would hear about, read about certain things, and you'd wanna know what's the story behind that?

[00:08:54] Stephanie Davis: Why is that? Why is that happening? So I've always had a an intellectual [00:09:00] curiosity about almost anything that's going on around me, and I wanna understand why. With finance, economics, business, those are powerful people and they make money. Which is something that frankly , I found that, that appealed to me.

[00:09:15] Stephanie Davis: Absolutely. I remember reading Barbarians at the gate, which was a story about the takeover phenomenon. Mike Milkin, Colberg, Kravis, and Robertson. I thought that's, I didn't understand it, but it sounded interesting. It just, it appealed to me. So I would just say I'm an intellectually curious person.

[00:09:34] Stephanie Davis: and I found my father was, he liked to play the stock market a bit, so that had probably had something to do with it. But I would just say it was just something that appealed to me on an intellectual level and I thought why I could probably do this somehow. 

[00:09:48] LB: Yeah, I think that's fascinating because it's an important call out about intellectual curiosity because it, it creates, an advantage overall, and it's interesting to hear how it took you down this path into finance and [00:10:00] into tech, which I'm sure we'll get into at some point.

[00:10:02] Stephanie Davis: Yeah, and that was, it was all I should say, that was also around the time Internet 1.0 and this. Transition into client server, but those as aspects of the technology revolution, were also taking place as, as well. So we've come a very far, we've this country's technology sphere. Sphere, and look, I don't wanna jump ahead, has really in the past 20 to 30 years, it's amazing.

[00:10:30] Stephanie Davis: What has happened. And when I look back on it, it's almost like when I started it was the stone age, which it was compared to where we are today. 

[00:10:37] Dr. Jim: One of the things that you mentioned in the early part of your career, you were talking about some of the blocking and tackling of the sector that you served and the work that you did.

[00:10:44] Dr. Jim: It seemed it came across that that you seem to enjoy the. The part of the role where your input is being asked by all of these publications. So when you look at, your early career and the work [00:11:00] that you're doing within finance and the foreign exchange markets What were the aspects of the job that you really enjoyed?

[00:11:05] Dr. Jim: What were the aspects of the job that didn't really align that well for you? 

[00:11:09] Stephanie Davis: You're sitting down at a desk every day. You sit down at the desk and you say what's going on in the world around me?

[00:11:15] Stephanie Davis: And you have certain responsibilities. At that time, the, our customers were paying, it was a paid service, so they. The, on my watch, they were looking at the, it was called the Chartist. It was Forex, chartist, and it was through they received the service through, as I said, Dow Jones, Tillery a terminal or Bloomberg, and they would be looking for certain, this was before the Euro, by the way, so you'd have the yen, the Deutschemark, the Swiss Franc.

[00:11:45] Stephanie Davis: People would be looking for levels that we were recommending to them. to position their portfolios. So every day you'd have to maintain, you'd have to identify what those levels, what the optimal trading levels would be, what the optimal trading [00:12:00] strategy would be to enter the market, to exit the market.

[00:12:04] Stephanie Davis: And if something dramatic happened, if the Fed raise rates or some government got toppled or something happened, then you would see this dramatic shift. Capital out of the market and the page that you had carefully, landscape, cuz you're looking at a page with levels. It would all be, it would all vanish, it would all be irrelevant and I'd have to rebuild it.

[00:12:27] Stephanie Davis: So that was, it was fun, but it became tedious after a certain point. I like parts of that. And then after a certain point in time that became tedious. I always like the relationship with the customers who would call me to ask me for their advice. And I remember once I had gone out to lunch and when I came back, my, my manager just said, you have a call from a customer.

[00:12:51] Stephanie Davis: And she said, , I told him that I was your manager and that I could answer the question, which she could, but he said, no, I wanna wait [00:13:00] until Stephanie comes back from lunch. I wanna speak to her directly. So it was things like that I felt like I had built a, I could build a relationship with the customer, and that they trusted what I had to say.

[00:13:12] Dr. Jim: How did that I guess enjoyment or desire for the interpersonal connection drive your career trajectory or navigation within the financial services sector?

[00:13:21] Stephanie Davis: I Was, saw the opportunity or felt that I had an opportunity to, to transition. Some of my analytical skills to a financial planning capacity. So I went from the buy side to the sell side of the financial services and began working in risk management and financial planning cuz, and doing some sales and marketing, which gave, again, gave me the opportunity to give advice.

[00:13:48] Stephanie Davis: Help people deal with people, but also apply some level of technical thinking and acumen to what I was doing. So I did that for about five [00:14:00] years, between five, six years, between risk management, financial planning. Marketing in some sales where I was perhaps supporting some of our field people and helping to position financial products.

[00:14:14] Stephanie Davis: In this case for small business owners, whether it was employee benefits or compensation or wills and estate planning. But I still had the opportunity to use some of my technical abilities. So it was a com. It was a combination of the two, but it was more in line with, there was more interaction with the p, with the client.

[00:14:36] Stephanie Davis: So there was advice and there was that combination of advice. And technical ability with a little more selling a little bit. I'm not a great salesperson, but I figured it would be useful for me to to get some exposure in that area.

[00:14:49] LB: we've definitely talked to several guests that have talked about the importance of sales. And so I guess even if you say that you're not necessarily good at it, I think that you do bring up a very good [00:15:00] point of at least getting that exposure is what you, what I understood you to say that it was still helpful in the overall process of what did you want, what you wanted to accomplish.

[00:15:06] Stephanie Davis: My father would say from time to time, he would say, everything is a sale. No matter what you do, you're selling something. To somebody and I never, that thought had never occurred to me, but as it turns out, as one goes through life and looks back on what their parents say, oh yeah, he was right about that too.

[00:15:27] Stephanie Davis: So he would say Everything is a sale. 

[00:15:29] LB: Jim and I have oftentimes laughed about this, the whole idea and notion of you're either selling.

[00:15:34] LB: or being sold. So it's great to, to understand it and be on either side of the equation. I prefer to be on the selling side, right? . . I think that when you think about it, it is an important element. At its core something that you've talked about to a great extent is about this idea and notion of relationships.

[00:15:49] LB: And I think that does in fact help you to be stronger and Idea of working with people. I was curious about this though, as you were talking about the finance side and you were sprinkling a little bit of the the [00:16:00] technical side of things. Can you share with us a little bit about how you made the transition from finance to the data and the technical side of things?

[00:16:08] Stephanie Davis: I must say that the one key, if I had to give before I go into this, it's relationships. If you can build effective relationships, you can do anything you want. So I'm very good at building relationships and a friend, rather casual said, there's an opportunity for you to work in a transition into somewhat of a managerial position with some opportunity to drive sales.

[00:16:38] Stephanie Davis: Revenue inventory for LG Electronics. They're trying to build their brand aware, brand awareness in North America, and they're looking for someone to manage their Northern New England territory. And if you're interested, I could probably get you an interview. I thought, that's interesting.

[00:16:59] Stephanie Davis: [00:17:00] That's. It wasn't something I'd ever thought about per se, but it was an opportunity to broaden my horizons and develop some managerial and leadership skills. So I thought okay let's see where this leads. Long story short, I got the position, and again, I'm here in Boston, but I have the Northern New England territory building.

[00:17:21] Stephanie Davis: B2B relationships with major accounts, lgs major accounts. So you're talking about Sears. You're talking about w Walmart, you're talking about Home Depot, you're talking about Best Buy, managing the relationship at the with the store manager, his or her team, and the district management of those major accounts.

[00:17:42] Stephanie Davis: So that was appealing to me because A, there is some analytical skills involved in figuring out how your sales are doing. Where you're doing with sell through how my team is doing with sell, through how we're doing with inventory, managing inventory training,[00:18:00] and interacting again with the the decision makers of these major accounts.

[00:18:05] Stephanie Davis: So that gave, that helped me broaden my skillset to not only technical, but marketing some sales. Managing a distributed team and developing strategy. When you're looking at numbers, then you have to decide based on that, how am I going to drive myself through or my team sell through to attain the goals that the company has that has set, so I did that.

[00:18:32] LB: I got excited because you covered so much in that little snippet, because when. Talk about the relationship building. I know we'll get up to this a little bit, but when, what I was thinking as you were saying that is, is we're talking about, career transition.

[00:18:43] LB: And it seems to me that one of the ways that you were able to, and I don't wanna project, but I'm just excited about sharing this part, is that you're talked about the network and the relationship building. And just very cool and calmly, you mentioned that's how you actually got the LG [00:19:00] opportunity, right?

[00:19:00] LB: It was based off the relationships. It was based off the network. People knew your brand, believed in that brand and said, Hey, I have an opportunity. And so we've talked about this in several of our shows about this whole idea of having an advocate. So you had the opportunity to create the advocate, the advocacy.

[00:19:20] LB: You were in the driver's seat, and you sound very intentional about Yeah, I'm very good at relationships. I'm very good at building partnerships and it's fascinating to me when people have a good sense of that. And I think this is an important call out for those of us that are listening to leverage that.

[00:19:37] LB: This is one of the ways in which you can have the kind of success that you've had in terms of being able to transit. 

[00:19:41] Stephanie Davis: Very few things happen in life without a relationship. I. , whether it's, we, you look at the this controversy in the N F L over coaches.

[00:19:49] Stephanie Davis: , that's a relationship business. And somebody found out, for example, that most of those coaches are married to somebody in the org. They have a marital relationship. There's some [00:20:00] interpersonal relationship they have with the team that gives them an edge over everybody else. , who wants those physicians?

[00:20:07] Stephanie Davis: So I don't want to drift, but my point is, it's all, it's everything is a relationship. And if you have, if you know how to master relationships and build networks and optimize those networks, you can get a, you can accomplish a lot. You can go very 

[00:20:24] Stephanie Davis: far. 

[00:20:25] LB: The other thing that, that I was that I was laughing at inside is that, so everyone talks.

[00:20:28] LB: Again, to your point, not everyone, but a lot of people talk about the idea notion of like social media influencers. And as I was listening to what you were saying, I'm like, oh she's, she was an influencer before. The whole idea of influencing was a thing, and I mean for more of the, for the new, for the younger generations, that this influence again is that ability. To help convince, to help drive outcomes. And I think when I listen to what you're saying that's an element too of having the ability to influence based off relationships and based off of [00:21:00] networking. Even what you described just now about the N F L is that really a lot of that influence is around what you described as like the relation, the actually family relationships that exist there, that people get these shots and opportunities.

[00:21:12] Stephanie Davis: I don't wanna jump the gun, but I think that social media, for me, I use it as a tool. It doesn't use me. I use it. I'm not wailing on social media 24 7 cuz I don't find it that appealing. But it can be a tool for me to get the things. That I wanna get, right? 

[00:21:32] Stephanie Davis: But relationships are key and they're all around you, by the way, and you have to be. Very, you have to read the room. You have to always be paying attention because there's always things going on around you. And if there's something you want, there's probably somebody around you who can help you get it if you're paying attention.

[00:21:51] Stephanie Davis: Which is something else I'm very good at doing. I'm, somebody told me I have very high situational awareness 

[00:21:58] Dr. Jim: One of the things that stood out [00:22:00] about the answer that you gave a little while ago, your you're. . As you're navigating your trajectory, you're picking out these different areas or functional areas of expertise that you want to build. Started off at the analyst side, you wanted to expand the relationship side.

[00:22:16] Dr. Jim: You shifted from the buy side to the seller side. Then you navigated into sales, which gave you experience in that functional group which also gave you some exposure to. Distributed team leadership gave you exposure to you know, managing a team, all of these different pieces of the puzzle.

[00:22:35] Dr. Jim: Now, did you pick those things out intentionally or was it just something that, organically evolved because the way that you described. it struck me as, okay, these are specific things that you, at some point, or somebody else at some point said you need to shore up these areas, or at least get exposure in these areas for a bigger plan.

[00:22:55] Dr. Jim: So what was the bigger plan behind getting those tho [00:23:00] those different flavors in your arsenal of tools in the in, in the world of work? 

[00:23:05] Stephanie Davis: Oh, 

[00:23:05] Stephanie Davis:

[00:23:05] Stephanie Davis: knew I wanted to be in the IT world. But I also felt personally that I needed to be, I always thought I should be a, as a c e O type, that you have to be well-rounded.

[00:23:17] Stephanie Davis: I assume that they have mastery or at least familiarity with a multitude of subject areas. The, we are told that we are the CEOs of our own career paths, so I was. Taking opportunities as I saw them. And it's not particularly intentional. I'm like almost more Forest Gump but I have certain interests that lead me in a certain path, but I can't say that I'm the most intentional in the bi in the bigger sense, but in certain areas I do have cer a strategic focus.

[00:23:49] Stephanie Davis: But I would not say that it's, I would say it's more organic with some, again, attention to detail and opportunities arising within my network and relationships [00:24:00] that I've built. 

[00:24:01] Dr. Jim: When you were going through that process and then you made the decision to look, I need to make a strong play to get into.

[00:24:09] Dr. Jim: The IT space and get out of the finance space. And I'm not even sure if that was that distinct a decision. What were the things that you set up to help navigate that change or facilitate that change? What was the process that you went through to make that switch into it from finance?

[00:24:27] Stephanie Davis: One thing that did happen that I didn't plan is my mother passed 

[00:24:31] Stephanie Davis: away. So that kind of gave me, that was probably the biggest life-changing event I have ever had, and probably anybody will ever have because it forces you to, I, it gave me a sense of vulnerability cuz I'd never been without my mother.

[00:24:47] Stephanie Davis: So that was, for me, that was something that caused me. Step back and say where am I? Where am I really going? And what do I really wanna be doing with my life? So I kind, that gave me an opportunity to take a [00:25:00] pause. I said, I need to just chill out for a bit. So what I did at the, in the meantime, I bought a Mac, the first Macintosh computer that I had ever owned, and I started playing around in the terminal.

[00:25:12] Stephanie Davis: I, I discovered this terminal. and then I learned, oh, this is Linux. What's Linux? So I got into, I, I earned a Linux certification and I started attending meetups. This is pre pandemic and programming and meeting different people and learning the language. Now I'm focused on coding, learning how to code, mastering, really getting into detailed, a detailed understanding.

[00:25:40] Stephanie Davis: What I thought would be an entree into technology, which was administration and IT admin and service administration, and that, that was my entree. I was obsessed with this. I was on that, my computer in the terminal and learning as much as I possibly can about. [00:26:00] Linux, every flavor of Linux that I could possibly learn how to install different flavors of Linux, how to master virtual computing.

[00:26:08] Stephanie Davis: As I said, some coding, playing around with Python and attending meetups where there were employers that were looking to hire people. I'm not a great coder. Nobody will ever hire me to code anything, but I at least had a working knowledge. Of the language so that I could speak intelligently with potential employers about those opportunities.

[00:26:32] Stephanie Davis: So another thing you have to do is win in Roman. Learn how to speak and do as the Romans. Romans do. So the introduction to Linux opened up a whole new world for me, and I would publish it on a, I had a blog, so I would publish what I was learning on the blog, thinking that would give me some credibility.

[00:26:51] Stephanie Davis: If people wanted to know what do you know? I could say I publish on this blog and I wound up somebody from Amazon [00:27:00] Light Sale picked up. Maybe I put it on Twitter. and said, can we write about you? Cuz I'd gotten myself into a mess. , I like to break things and then fix them and I . I made a mess of, I'd gotten into a problem that I needed some technical support and I published this long detailed exposition of how I got out of it and somebody from Amazon found it, I guess it was on Twitter, and they said, can I, can we write this up?

[00:27:26] Stephanie Davis: I said, sure. . And so that gave me some credibility. And in the, now I'm in the IT space and I developed a relationship with someone who was actually doing it, service management work. And I did some consulting with him and he took an interest in helping me progress and I was able to put that on a resume.

[00:27:48] Stephanie Davis: Long story short, companies, the United States Department of Labor, a an apprenticeship program so we know what apprentices are. Plumbing the trades. There is a, it's very [00:28:00] popular in Europe and it's becoming popular, more popular here in the states. It apprenticeships. So I learned of and applied for this it apprenticeship where you are actually trained in specific area.

[00:28:13] Stephanie Davis: and employers are looking to hire you because they're desperate. They're looking for trained IT people. And so I passed through this apprenticeship program and I had an immediate position within nine months. The program you passed through the program and you have a position and that's where I am now.

[00:28:32] Dr. Jim: There's a couple things out of that story that are pretty interesting. You, earlier on in our conversation, you mentioned, Hey, I'm not a big social media person. It's a tool just like anything else, and I'll leverage it, how I wanna leverage it.

[00:28:44] Dr. Jim: But when we look at how you navigated that, I think one of the big things that, I talk about with people that are considering career switches, is you have to develop your voice. And extend that voice on any platform that you feel comfortable with, so that [00:29:00] it gives people an idea or a window into who you are, what you're about, and what you think.

[00:29:06] Dr. Jim: Because by making yourself vulnerable like that or exposing yourself like that, it actually opens up a lot more opportunities that you might not even be aware of. But for. You posting sort of your journey or your learning journey on your blog, there's an argument to be made that you might not have actually accelerated to that point.

[00:29:26] Dr. Jim: If you're like, Hey, nobody wants to hear anything that I have going on, I'm just going to, keep my head down and do my thing. So that's an important lesson. But the other part of it is when you're, when you know I don't want to short sell what you just did because when we look at transitioning into technology and some of the biases that exist when it comes to.

[00:29:46] Dr. Jim: Hiring that happens there? You have to have a computer science degree. You have to fit, a certain profile. You have to come from these places. Or do these types of, I'm referencing the tech bro culture that you completely buck the trend by leveraging your network again, [00:30:00] going where the people that.

[00:30:02] Dr. Jim: That hire for these roles and getting yourself out and building a network across those communities to give yourself an opportunity. So when we're asking the question how do you navigate this? Lesson one is you have to make your learning journey public to the level that you're comfortable.

[00:30:19] Dr. Jim: Lesson two is you have to find and embed yourself into the communities where. , your target audience or your target employers hang out and, engage in those communities. So if you want to go a non-traditional route, those are two key things, and I think it's important to to say that out loud.

[00:30:40] Dr. Jim: I think what's interesting is that you've, that's twice that you never really had to formally navigate a quote unquote job search. to make that career switch. Your curiosity and your ability to give people a window into your learning created those opportunities for you.

[00:30:55] Dr. Jim: Maybe I'm oversimplifying it, but how do you respond to my analysis 

[00:30:59] Stephanie Davis: I think you're, 

[00:30:59] Stephanie Davis: [00:31:00] you, Sherlock Holmesed that very well because I'm gonna write a resume and send it to somebody because you'll never get anywhere that's, it worked for me one time, but every other time it was the basis of a relationship.

[00:31:13] Stephanie Davis: Then you send the resume, then you have the conversation, and then you move forward. But sending resumes blind. Is it's a waste of time. What you wanna do is, again, through relationships. Some somehow, if, even if it means going on LinkedIn and targeting somebody you wanna talk to and asking them for an interview, that's a more personal way of getting your foot in the door, then sending a resume blindly.

[00:31:42] Stephanie Davis: I happen to like the Wall Street Journal. There are names and companies and titles throughout that publication. So if you wanted to get into an industry, in all likelihood, that paper or, and I'm not selling it, but that paper or [00:32:00] Yahoo or Google or whatever, you can find out who the C e O is or who the whatever it is, position that you want to.

[00:32:07] Stephanie Davis: they tell you who it is. So that's, so now you know that there's probably six degrees, six degrees of separation I've found is true. I think that's the basis of social media and these relationships is somebody knows somebody who knows somebody, who knows whoever it is you want to talk to.

[00:32:24] Stephanie Davis: And your job is to try to navigate that strategically to get where it. You wanna be to develop a relationship with that person. 

[00:32:33] Dr. Jim: Steph, you're you're 

[00:32:34] Dr. Jim: talking about a complex sales process right there. This is a buyer seller relationship that you're describing.

[00:32:40] Dr. Jim: You are the seller of a particular set of services in terms of your career trajectory. You're trying to engage your network and find the person that is willing to buy those services and bring you in. And what you're talking about is navigating that, that journey. Of identifying who the buyer is.

[00:32:59] Dr. Jim: It's stuff that I [00:33:00] talked about all the time, and I advise candidates on all the time about, Hey, don't throw your resume down the a t s black hole because it's, somebody might, if you're lucky, spend eight seconds looking at your resume and put it in, in the appropriate pile. You're better off taking a sales approach, which is people buy from people who they know like, and trust.

[00:33:22] Dr. Jim: So how do you. Visibility. How do you build credibility? How do you build trust and likability? It's by engaging your network and going directly to the person that is the buyer, or at least trying to find who the buyer is. So that's I think if people are looking for any sort of advice when it comes to navigating a career change, that more than anything else is is pretty solid advice. 

[00:33:44] LB: I know you covered a lot, but if you were to break it down to three one of mine would be, for example, that intellectual curiosity, I think you are absolutely spot on, but what are some of the other key ones that would be important for folks to to lean?

[00:33:57] Stephanie Davis: I would say situational [00:34:00] awareness. Pay attention to detail of what's going on around you. For me it's intrinsic. I just, I'm always, I'm like a shark, I just, if there's something going on, I I can sense it. Pay attention to detail. Always be networking. Hone your communication skills in the end, no matter how brilliant you are, no matter how great your idea is or ideas are, if you cannot sell them.

[00:34:28] Stephanie Davis: And if you cannot communicate with people to get them to buy them, it doesn't matter. 

[00:34:33] LB: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. So situational awareness intellectual curiosity always networking and to be an effective communicator. And I think that those are great cheat codes for us to be successful.

[00:34:45] LB: And more importantly, I think on topic of being able to navigate a mirrored career transition in your role. And I think this was really important, Stephanie, for. , anybody really any, at any point in their career. So I do appreciate that advice. 

[00:34:59] Stephanie Davis: I [00:35:00] think I have found most people, the vast majority of people are willing to help you in some way if you ask.

[00:35:08] Stephanie Davis: Yes, absolutely. That people are not brutes, they're , they wanna help if they. And you should be willing to reciprocate, by the way, I like to that I'm willing to do that for others too. But in general, don't be afraid to say, I need some help, or Can I talk to you about this? I'm trying to do this.

[00:35:28] Stephanie Davis: Can you help me? You have to have some idea of what it is you, what the ask is of the individual. But if you ask, I've found that people, they'll 

[00:35:38] Stephanie Davis: help. 

[00:35:39] LB: Absolutely. Thank you and we appreciate you being a part of the show. I hope that our listeners will be able to check us out on their favorite podcast platform.

[00:35:48] LB: We are also all over social media, and of course we wanna use it in a way that Stephanie has helped us to understand social media today. You can find us on YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, and we look forward to [00:36:00] catching you on the next episode of Cascading Leadership. 


Navigating Career Transitions and Overcoming Challenges of Race and Gender
Navigating Career Change and Her Experience in Business and Economics
Conversation on Transitioning from Buy Side to Sell Side of Financial Services
Career Transitions and Relationship Building
The Power of Relationships and Networking in Achieving Success
Navigating a Career Switch
Navigating the Buyer-Seller Relationship for Career Success