Lead(H)er Profile - Jillian Wiseman, Vice President Strategic Development at Examity
Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I grew up in South Jersey -- Moorestown, to be exact. In high school, I moved to Singapore and attended the Singapore American School before coming back to Moorestown for my senior year.
I haven’t changed much since being a kid... I still act like one today. I was always extremely competitive, happy, and social as a child -- and I’m still like that now. I’ve always been very athletic, and played tons of sports when I was young -- everything from lacrosse to tennis to football to soccer. I even played competitively on the boys’ baseball team through sixth grade! I enjoyed school and loved art classes, so much that I wanted to apply to art school for college.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I went to the business school at Washington University in St. Louis, where I majored in marketing and minored in art. So I guess you could say I went to art school after all!
After graduating, my first job was with Detroit Edison (now DTE Energy). I was in their Professional Opportunity Program, which involved a series of rotations in their marketing department. The opportunity was managed at a slower pace than I expected; I was looking for something a little more energetic. After 19 months, I decided to move to Boston.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
Family and friends always told me I should be in sales because I had the personality for it. But, to be honest, I think I got into sales by mistake.
Soon after I moved to Boston, I found a job with a marketing intelligence firm -- which turned out to be more like glorified cold calling. I stuck with that job to the point where I was tripling and quadrupling other people’s lead rates, and realized: “I should just be in sales.”
I later found a job selling computer hardware, where I stayed for nine years. When my children were three, I moved into a pure commission recruiting role, working from home and placing software sales people. I spent six years as a recruiter, and while I enjoyed my time, the experience made me realize that I wanted a more sophisticated sale.
In the summer of 2014, I connected with Michael London. He had started a company called Examity and was looking to build his sales team. The timing was right for me and the opportunity seemed like a perfect fit -- which of course it turned out to be!
What is your current role and responsibilities?
In my current role, I manage a team of enterprise sales representatives responsible for closing new business and fostering current relationships. In addition, I spearhead many of Examity’s most strategic partnerships. I have a team of five that reports directly to me.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
From childhood, my goal in life has always been to be successful. I’m extremely competitive and want to be #1 in anything I do, whether that’s sports, business, or anything else. I think that attitude could have taken me anywhere -- but I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d end up as a VP of Sales.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
Understand the entire business and how business works. Be aware. Don’t have blinders on, or focus on only one thing. If you understand the product, the account management, and the technology, you will be a better salesperson.
A couple other life lessons that have served me well: Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take risks. Be creative. Do first, ask for forgiveness later.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
For me the most important skills have been tenacity, creativity, determination, discipline, autonomy, and awareness of myself and those around me.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s most challenging?
I love my job. Sales feeds my competitive spirit. I loved growing this company from the ground up. I started at Examity when it was less than a $1 million in revenue, and today we’ve been recognized with awards such as the BBJ Fast 50, Boston Inno’s 50 on Fire and Deloitte’s Fast 500. It’s been a privilege to be an integral part of a company with such incredible growth.
I also love the process of selling itself: strategizing with my customers to provide the right product to meet their needs and selling in an ever-changing industry. When we started Examity, we had a really innovative product and were ahead of the curve, but people caught up. Today, you have to constantly evolve and reposition your approach. I love figuring out how to stay ahead of the pack.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
See above: being part of Examity’s growth is the proudest part of my professional career.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
To be honest, I don’t have time to be involved with anyone else! When I was younger, and so were my kids, I was a member of MMOTA, Massachusetts Mothers of Twins Association.
What’s next for you and your career?
Examity is definitely keeping me busy right now! As for what’s next, I’m focused on continuing our growth. There’s a ton of potential in this industry and I want to continue helping us be the market leader.
One thing I know for sure is that I will remain in sales no matter what. I think I could sell anything, and I appreciate the opportunity to set an example for other women salespeople in technology.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I do CrossFit at 5am, which probably shows you how much free time I have and how crazy I am!
I spend lots of time with family and friends (my twins are now in 8th grade), and also love watching reality TV and listening to podcasts about reality TV. My all-time favorites are Survivor, The Bachelor, Temptation Island (what a train wreck), and Paradise Hotel (where the rules can change at any time!).
How do you manage stress?
I try to take as much control as I can of the stressful situation. My philosophy is that if you’re stressed out, then do something about it. My absolute best stress management tool is my husband: he helps me talk things out, keeps me grounded, and level-sets me.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
Oh boy. It’s a lot. I have one when I wake up, another one or two when I get to work, and one in the afternoon. So, somewhere around four? I love coffee. I love coffee with cream. It makes me happy.
What's one of your favorite places in the Boston area?
I’ll be honest: I love our house. We just remodeled it and I find it so calming. Life is hectic, and work is crazy. It can be nice to just sit in my house and settle into a reality TV show.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
I’m not much of a reader, though I’ve tried many times to change that. As far as podcast recommendations, I’ve got lots! I love reality show podcasts like the Ringer’s “Bachelor Party” and the “Ringer Dish,” when it’s about Survivor.
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Work hard, work smart and don’t be lazy. Don’t think anything will be handed to you. If you make a mistake, fix it and move on. Your hard work will be recognized. If you learn to manage up you will get ahead.
Also, take risks. You can go through life and do the same thing every day, but if you want to do something, do it. Nothing is gifted: you have to make it happen yourself.
Want to learn more about Examity? Check out their BIZZPage.