Ep 46: Rebecca Bray: Learning Every Day

Diva Tech Talk was excited to interview Rebecca Bray, Chief Sales Officer for nationwide technology and engineering recruiting/staffing company: Epitec (www.epitec.com). Like a few of the other “Divas” that we have interviewed, Rebecca did not start out intending to pursue a tech mission. “I just fell into it,” she said.

Rebecca graduated Central Michigan University with a marketing degree, and a concentration in logistics management, but it was a college internship at Epitec that inspired her 19-year current career.  During that internship, “where I was put in a closet, converted into workspace,” Rebecca scanned resumes into the company’s computer system.  Nevertheless, after graduating, “I decided to interview, back with Epitec. I figured it would be a good way to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said.  She has remained with the company, ever since, because “I love what I do. The opportunities that have been afforded to me have always kept me engaged, challenged and learning every day.”   In addition to her university degree, during her time at Epitec, Rebecca also obtained her ITIL certification (this is mastery of the set of detailed practices for information technology service management (ITSM) concentrated on aligning IT services with the needs of business).

Rebecca began supporting Epitec’s recruiting team, but the company gave her a plethora of chances to expand her professional repertoire.  “I have had various roles from recruiting to employee care to working on our IT teams to sales/new business development and account management. I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity, working with some of our customers, managing project work in both application development and in the infrastructure space.”  Looking for greater meaning in her work, Rebecca cited a project with Detroit Public Schools, establishing a helpdesk for families aimed at increasing student enrollment, as being one of her most rewarding accomplishments. 

Rebecca discussed milestones in her personal growth throughout her tenure at Epitec.  “There are a lot of things that you cannot predict,” she said in discussing projects. “It is how you respond. It’s how about looking at what you can do with what’s in your control.”  She also prides herself on having learned “how to identify obstacles, and how to remove obstacles.”  In her current role, with responsibility for a team of 50, she is thrilled to concentrate on challenging, inspiring and “growing our team.”  Focused on daily staff enrichment, Epitec celebrates each staff member’s personal, as well as career, accomplishments every year.  “Training and developing people takes a lot of understanding,” Rebecca said. “What is very hard for new managers is letting people try their own way.”  Giving people the leeway to fail, she believes, is “very important to let people develop and grow. We call it ‘recovery-oriented’. “

Key personal characteristics contributing to Rebecca’s success include patience and tenacity. “When I started, I looked very young.  Having credibility was a problem for me.”  To overcome this, Rebecca stressed that learning “who my audience was, and what their needs were,” was key. “The best thing I did was to be as prepared as possible.”

Additionally, “I don’t give up on things,” she said.  “I would say that I genuinely like people, and I’m interested in learning about people.”  Among the teams reporting to her is Epitec’s training and development group, which has created and manages a three-week onboarding program for Epitec staff.  One of Rebecca’s many challenges has been to address internal staff retention and motivation.  She constantly ponders “What’s going to motivate our staff, typically not the generation I come from or with whom I have worked.  It’s a new generation. So, overcoming challenges around different work expectations, different types of goal-setting, different types of reward and recognition programs,” are issues for her.

As an Epitec executive, Rebecca is also concerned with the looming large potential gap between the growing number of technology jobs, and skilled candidates to fill them.  To address it, she said “We are partnering with organizations like the Michigan Council of Women in Technology to drive more exposure to young girls and people about technology. We are also working with colleges around some internship programs, and have a robust internal Epitec internship program.” 

Rebecca shared some very pragmatic tips for other budding leaders:

1.     “Write down your goals.  I’m a big believer in writing them down, and looking at them, and reviewing them. It’s important to have them, reflect on them, and measure against them. And put a plan, together, on how you are going to achieve them.”

2.     “Be ‘recovery-oriented’ and move forward.  If you look in the rearview mirror too long, you’re going to hit the car in front of you.”

3.     “Invest in yourself. If you want to develop a solid career, it’s really up to you. You need to work at it.” 

Rebecca lamented that sometimes people don’t practice their skills.   She noted that, in sports, practice is key to success; and strongly advocates that this also applies to professional lives, too.

Realistically, to achieve balance, Rebecca noted that “being in the present” is important. “When I am with my family, then I’m engaged with my family. One of the rules that we have is not to be on our electronic devices when we are at the dinner table, whether at home or out!”  Conversely, “when on the flipside --- when I am at work --- I’m focused at work,” she said.  In her philanthropic life, Rebecca is very involved in a volunteer role with Vista Maria (www.vistamaria.org), a Michigan-based nonprofit which offers community-based programs including education, general and treatment foster care, youth assistance programs, independent living, transition services and after school programs for “at risk” girls.

Please feel free to contact Rebecca Bray at her email address: rjbray@epitec.com 

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