From company to company, business development doesn’t always look the same. In one company, the role could hone in on customer relations—in another, it could have a financial focus.
What business development professionals will agree on is that each day is different and that they get to work across all departments within the company, putting their networking skills to good use. And, they come to work with the knowledge that they’re having a significant impact—finding opportunities for growth and playing a big role in determining the company’s direction.
Want to know about how the paths they took landed them their business development roles? Read five professionals’ stories below.
1. Jesse Breaux
Business Development Associate, Social Tables
When he was young, Jesse Breaux had career goals that his parents still joke about now. “I wanted to be a cashier at Walmart,” he explains, “because I thought they got to take home all the money in the register when they were finished that day.”
With those cash register dreams in mind, Breaux studied accounting at East Carolina University—but promptly discovered that he didn’t love that as a career. To find a new path, he searched on AngelList, where he came across Social Tables, which provides guest management software to the hospitality and events industry. After a few emails back and forth, he came to the office to interview—“and from the moment I stepped in the office, I knew this was where I wanted to work.”
A week later, he had a job offer. In that business development role, Breaux works closely with both the sales and marketing departments. He typically spends a portion of his day researching how to strategically approach potential clients, then actually reaches out to them to find the best ways for them to partner with Social Tables.
2. Tyler Donahue
Manager, Business Development, Yext
After studying mathematics and economics at Duke University, Tyler Donahue was hired at Yext in an analyst position on the marketing team. But then a surprising series of events caused that role to shift.
When Yext hosted a TechCrunch event, Donahue attended with a few of his co-workers—partially for the networking and partially for the free beer. He stuck around to finish his beer after his colleagues left and spent the rest of the night talking and networking with the Yext CEO. “He must have thought I was a networking fiend,” Donahue recalls, “but really, I just wanted to finish my beer!” The next morning, he was called into the CEO’s office and told he’d been moved to business development.
Now, Donahue puts those networking skills to work, communicating with marketing and publishing partners and collaborating with departments across the company. “I’m able to touch almost every single different group—which is a really exciting part of what I get to do on a day-to-day basis.”
3. Patrick Gardner
Business Development, OptionsCity
“I grew up working for a small, family-owned company,” shares Patrick Gardner, explaining that he fulfilled almost every role at one time or another, from taking out the trash to sales to management.
When he graduated college, he realized he truly liked working for a small company. “I like the idea that through your efforts, and through your work, you really have a positive effect on the entire company.” And he found that same potential at OptionsCity, which produces products that make professional trading easier.
Gardner’s role at the company centers around a focus on the customer, where a typical day could include anything from making sales presentations and product demonstrations to maintaining customer relationships. According to Gardner, “My role can go several different ways on any given day.”
4. Lauren Hengl
Head of 918F Street, Living Social
A varied background brought Lauren Hengl to her current role in business development. After studying journalism in undergrad and earning a master’s in public policy, she worked as a consultant for the Pew Charitable Trust. She initially joined Living Social in the recruiting department but eventually joined the new initiatives team, where she piloted new products and businesses for the company. “And now I head up our latest venture here at 918F Street,” she shares.
918F Street in an innovative venue in Washington, DC that brings together merchants and consumers to connect in a new way and ultimately creates unique content for the community. And that means Hengl’s days are incredibly varied—working with vendors from all industries to come together in a wide variety of events and keeping things fresh and exciting as the venture develops. But to her, that’s the biggest perk: “It’s about figuring out what works and not being scared to try things—to test and retest until you get it right,” she says.
5. Van Morgan
Business Analyst, ZestFinance
After graduating with an MBA from Carnegie Mellon, Van Morgan was looking for a way to transition back to Los Angeles, where he’d done his undergraduate studies. After doing some web searches for LA-based companies, he came across ZestFinance.
“I didn’t think I’d go to a tech company—it just wasn’t on my radar,” Morgan admits. But that changed when he started researching the company a little more. “The mission was great, it was a great product idea, and a great pedigree as far as the founders and people who work there.” So, he applied and worked with a recruiter to land the position of a business analyst.
At ZestFinance, Morgan works with departments across the company to find ways for the company to increase revenues or reduce costs. “It’s a lot of problem solving and a lot of exploration to try to find ways to improve ourselves.”
Photo of pen and folders courtesy of Shutterstock.
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