By Ashley Keimach, SIS Contributing Writer
Candace Jordan is more than your average sales professional. As a performer at heart, Candace learned early on in her career how to stand out. With over a decade of sales experience, she now works as a Manager for Consumer Goods at Google with a team of 10 sales professionals under her leadership. Undoubtedly Candace has built a career that many young professionals aspire to. But what is it really like to walk in her shoes? How can you climb the corporate ladder, keep up with the demands of a sales career, while still having time to build your own personal brand? In this interview Candace welcomes us into her world, and gives us all a peek inside of what it takes to build a successful career without neglecting your own personal brand and passions.
How It Started
Before making her mark in tech, Candace started off her career in the entertainment industry as a professional singer. While performing fueled Candace and was a deep passion of hers, she ultimately decided to switch career paths with the goal of finding greater stability. In an effort to find a new lane for herself, Candace decided to go back to school and focus on advertising. Initially, Candace hoped advertising would give her the opportunity to continue flexing her creativity and love for music by writing jingles for commercials. However, Candace quickly found that she was much more interested in the financial side of advertising, which ultimately led to her building a new career in Media Planning.
“What I found in all of my courses is that I actually liked managing the money. I didn’t like the creative process as it was too restrictive for me so I ended up in Media Planning where I got to work with brands who basically said ‘here’s what we’re trying to accomplish, here’s how much money we have, tell us what to do with it’ – and I loved it!”
Working in Media Planning revealed to Candace her interest in strategy and marketing. It allowed her to be close to her initial love for entertainment while giving her the freedom to build new skills that would eventually open the door to greater opportunities.
Through networking, Candace found her next opportunity with Google as a customer service rep. This opportunity eventually led to a transition into sales as an Account Manager. In this role, Candace was able to keep her finger on the advertising world as she worked with advertising agencies, connecting them with google solutions and products that would better serve their clients.
As an outsider looking in, it’s easy to see the results of Candace’s hard work without seeing the strategy behind it. When asked how young professionals can take control of their career and break into the sales industry, Candace shares the following insight:
“There are a lot of roles that are transferable into sales… When I developed my resume and I wanted to tell the story about what value I would bring into the company and in the role, I talked a lot about my ability to influence stakeholders…”
Candace goes on to explain that it’s all about “identifying what’s transferable in your current role and what gaps you need to fill…If you are doing problem solving and influencing stakeholders, or convincing people that a strategy you developed is right for them, you are already selling.”
This is precisely what Candace did for herself. Each job opportunity presented new skills and experiences that she was able to leverage to break into new roles and make a positive impact within the sales industry.
The work however, doesn’t end there. It’s one thing to aspire to a role like the one Candace currently has – it’s a totally different thing once you land the role.
How It’s Going
When asked what it’s actually like being a leader at Google, Candace shared the following:
“It’s harder than it looks. Good managers spend a lot of time trying to keep the team calm and supported and happy and shield the team from a lot of things that might be going on externally or internally.”
But that’s not all.
Candace goes on to explain that being a manager also means you have to ensure your team is doing well and performing well.
“It can be difficult to navigate so many different personalities and people at different places in their career and levels of expertise.”
Despite these challenges, Candace loves the fact that she has a direct role in helping the people on her team develop and grow professionally. “Developing people [and] coaching people is something I have always done, I just wasn’t being paid for it, but it’s important to me.”
Candace goes on to share that being a Sales Manager at a major tech company “takes a lot but it’s a labor of love. “I was a very strong seller and contributor…[but learning how] to transfer those skills to others is a new challenge…but it’s very fulfilling.”
When asked if someone in a sales position can get better, Candace shared the following perspective: “There is an academic aspect of sales that can 100% be taught. Do the research and come prepared. You can definitely get better at that. You have to pair the concrete side of sales with your own unique personality.”
Over the last few years, Candace has worked her way into her current position where she is now leading a team of 10 sales professionals. What started out as a desire to find stability, evolved into a wealth of experience and a beautiful career.
Identity and its Challenges in Tech
Climbing the ranks at a major tech company and within an industry that has been male dominated for many years is not an easy feat. There are many challenges one might face as they work to build their career, especially if you’re a woman of color.
Candace experienced these challenges first hand and it has created a passion inside of her to work towards greater inclusion in spaces where women of color were historically left out. Instead of simply focusing on building up herself, Candace poured energy into helping others and in turn, nurtured her own passions alongside building her career.
“Becoming a mom made me think more critically about the people that come behind me. I can’t kick the door open and let it close – now, I have to hold it open.” It was this realization that led Candace towards the action of using her talents to impact change.
“Early in my career, there were about six black women [on my team] and by the end of my second year at Google, I was the only one left. I wanted to try to understand what was happening.” Candace used the problem solving skills she learned working in sales to investigate why this happened.
“I looked for a gap – and the gap was inclusion.”
Armed with her passion and this new information, Candace created programming during 2016, which was a pivotal and poignant time of social unrest in America. This programming helps people of color feel like they belong, educates those that want to learn, and offers ways for everyone to get involved and create a better environment – both internally and Google and externally in their communities.
“I didn’t have any budget, I just decided this was something we needed to do. We built this programming from nothing and now it is one of the biggest inclusion focused programs at Google.” Candace used her everyday skills to impact the world around her. Instead of losing sight of her own passions, she found ways to integrate them into her work, and has provided immense value to those around her at Google as a result.
When it comes to building your own brand, Candace says that nurturing your passions is a major key to doing well at your job – it will force you to get into the habit of “prioritizing in small chunks”, which to Candace, means “considering where you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck…This perspective helps me keep things together.”
Another strategy Candace shares is blocking off time for things that are important and not neglecting things like taking a break, spending time with family, and nurturing your passions.
When asked how one can nurture their passions like she has while keeping up with the often ever increasing demands of a sales career, Candace offered the following advice:
“Be kind to yourself…It’s impossible to practice balance well all the time.”
Throughout her career, Candace has managed to find ways to excel in her job roles while simultaneously building her brand and working on passion projects. If there is anything to learn from the career that Candace has built, it is that the skills you develop as a sales professional can be leveraged to create the life you want and to positively impact the world around you.
To learn more about Candace and the work she is doing at Google, be sure to watch the video of her interview.
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