Today’s Notable Young Professional is Sheila Cassidy, Director of the Great Canadian Sales Competition. It’s one of the largest national platforms connecting students with some of the most exciting and relevant companies in Canada. I’m a big advocate of sales skills being a prerequisite for virtually all business professionals; after all, sales keeps the lights on in any company. Following your passion is important when it comes to deciding what you should do professionally and you need to follow your heart in order to find the drive to get there, but without the sale, a solid idea won’t ever fully materialize into greatness. The Great Canadian Sales Competition is helping students get those necessary sales skills to go far in their careers, and that’s notable.
We caught up with Sheila Cassidy to find out what inspires her and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
– Julian Brass, founder, Notable
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I lead the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC) team which includes 150 student Ambassadors. As a team, we promote sales as a career and a valuable skill-set to students across Canada.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I joined Sales Talent Agency (STA) as a business-to-business sales recruiter. I quickly realized that there were many misconceptions about B2B sales – i.e. 100% commission and/or selling knives door-to-door – so young people were not jumping at the chance to enter this field.
The reality is Canada has an unemployment rate of 14.5% but there are companies eager to hire junior sales talent. This creates an opportunity for new grads to land a great job if they know to look outside of the traditional job paths. The need to bridge this disconnect is what sparked my passion for the GCSC.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
The first year of the GCSC was a whirlwind. We had a concept but were not yet proven. Our tiny team hustled to get 215 participants from 33 schools. It wasn’t easy. That said, at the Winners Gala everything came together. We didn’t just have a great event; we started a movement. Business leaders were inspiring students to get into sales and new grads were landing exciting jobs. Watching “just an idea” turn into a nationally recognized success is definitely the most memorable milestone in my career so far.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Right now, I’ve just got my sights on wrapping up another successful year with the GCSC! What I do know is that I will still be in a leadership role and working to solve real problems.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Set goals. No matter your career, I really encourage you to establish a way to measure your success. Before working at STA, I relied on my ability to articulate my successes in a 1-year review; when I got measured on a target, I was able to prove myself with quantifiable measurements. Whenever you start something new, ask yourself what success looks like in a year. Having a goal you are accountable for makes you more motivated, confident and focused.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
My friends and I participate in Lawn Summer Nights (LSN). It’s a lawn bowling fundraiser that supports cystic fibrosis. I love this charity because it’s led by an inspiring group of young people and has been a massive success right out of the gate (LSN has helped raise over $1M for Cystic Fibrosis Canada since 2009). LSN takes place in the summer and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to give back – it’s a ton of fun!
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’ve always been a “yes” person. I like feeling valued by my team and helping out where I can. However, as I’ve moved into a leadership role , my responsibilities have increased. I used to feel guilty about handing things off, but in reality, delegating (when done properly) can be a learning opportunity for someone else on my team. I begin my day reflecting on what is possible for me to accomplish and what I can coach someone else to deliver equally well or better than I can.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
To stand out and be memorable.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Cibo on King St. W. I love the vibe and the gnocchi is incredible. The 50% off wine bottles Thursdays doesn’t hurt either!
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Google. Every day I think of about 10 obscure questions that I want the answer to.
My most played song is “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. I perform better at every task while listening to it.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Emma Watson. She is a really inspiring individual that contributes to so many local and international initiatives AND she has amazing book recommendations.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I love travelling anywhere and everywhere but my favourite country is this one! It’s so beautiful and every province offers something different. My favourite place in the world is Peggy’s Cove in Halifax, NS.
One trip I hope to do soon is two to three weeks is Ireland and England. My family is from Ireland so I’ve always wanted to go and I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so visiting platform 9 ¾ is a must.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
I consider my friends and family to be the cream of the crop so anytime that I am missing out on time with them I get serious FOMO.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Overpriced lunch because I forgot to pack one at home. I really try to prep my lunches on Sundays, but sometimes I slip and get caught in the land of $20 salads.
I wish I spent more money on leisurely travel. I want to see more of my family outside of Ontario and cross some more places off my bucket list.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is about being great at the things that you love doing and balancing each of them. I want to master prioritizing the most important things so I can put 120% of my energy towards them and avoid spreading myself too thin.