I certainly never saw myself as chief operating officer of Goodwill. This is totally off the track of my childhood dreams, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity. When I look back, I find that the key to my career has been making the most of the opportunities I’ve been given.
My values are simple: R.I.S.E.Respect everyone you come in contact with. Integrity: Do what you say you’re going to do. Serve people well. Excellence: Try to be the best at what you do every day when you go to work. As you do these, you rise, and everyone around you rises.
This has proven true in my career.
I spent 19 years in the radio business selling advertising time and managing radio stations. I worked my way up to become a vice president and general manager running three radio properties for Chancellor Broadcasting, which was eventually purchased by Clear Channel Communications.
I spent four years in the District as director of sales for WASH-FM and BIG 100.3.
I was a great salesperson. I could develop strong relationships in a very short time. I was able to find out what advertisers’ needs were and help develop programs that would help build their business. I also had strong managerial skills.
I always had the ability to create good teams, manage people and get them moving in the same direction, even as a kid working in a grocery store, when I started as a cashier and was promoted to assistant manager.
Over the years, I’ve learned you have to establish very clear expectations, make sure everyone understands what the goals are and focus on a set of goals without distraction.
I eventually became the vice president and general manager of radio stations when I was 33, and I was enjoying a successful career in the radio industry.
When the company decided to reorganize again, they offered me a great job, but instead I cashed in my stock options and walked away.
I knew I had reached a turning point, and it was time to look in a different arena. I wanted to do something with more redeeming social value.
I took three months and did some soul-searching. I traveled down to Australia, did some scuba diving and really found a calm center. When I started to look for what to do next, I ended up having lunch with my former boss, who had moved to Goodwill. The rest was history.
I loved the Goodwill mission. The whole philosophy of teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish really fills my soul.
I joined in January 2004. I started out developing our commercial janitorial business, going out and finding clients to use our service.
Since I had done a lot of training work in the radio business, I ended up teaching customer service to the employees.
In 2006, I took responsibility of the human-resources department, which was having a lot of problems. We turned that around. A year later, I joined Goodwill Industries’ executive development program, which is a two-year program where you learn everything there is to know about running a Goodwill. I visited other very well-run Goodwills around the country to learn everything about its retail and contracts business and everything Goodwill does. This is definitely an environment where I have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
Interview with Vanessa Small, Published: November 27, 2011
Read the full article at The Washington Post.
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