As I stepped up to talk about our product vision, the question hit me, “How did this Southern boy from a town of 500 get here? Six years ago I was teaching high school chemistry.”
Sixteen years ago I set out to get a PhD in chemistry at the University of Florida. Although I enjoyed my research in nanomembranes and quantum dots, I gravitated to teaching.
Computers, and later the internet, always fascinated me so I started a website to help my students with their chemistry questions. A friend in computer science recommended Drupal, a platform written in PHP, as a framework for my question and answer forum.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I did not finish my PhD.
With my masters degree and hurt pride, I took a job as an chemist in Savannah before pivoting to teach a few years later.
Thinking it would be a good for my resume, I kept the chemistry website going. As the website grew, my skills grew out of necessity. SEO (my #1 skill on LinkedIn) began to drive traffic to the website. Higher traffic required me to learn how to optimize servers and databases. My teacher salary “inspired” me learn about ads, and the advent of social media changed everything.
I started freelancing as a web developer to supplement my income.
In 2008 I set up a LinkedIn profile. Based on my SEO knowledge, I made some assumptions on how LinkedIn search worked and optimized my profile around my experience in Drupal and PHP. I started meeting more people and landing more projects. One summer Randi, a recruiter for NDN, found me on LinkedIn. I took the job shortly after. It was the culmination of all the skills I developed since graduate school.
As NDN grew, we hired a VP of Product, and I met my first product mentor, Rob Sheppe. I joined his team shortly after.
One morning I woke up to a LinkedIn notification on my phone. It was a message from Kyle Porter asking to chat about “determining the future.” Yesterday I celebrated my two year anniversary at SalesLoft as Head of Product. I have grown like never before, and the people I work with at SalesLoft inspire me daily to be the best me I can be. Thank you.