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Podcast Pit Stop: Cassie Yettru on The Value Of Professional Development For Career Success

The Value of Professional Development for Career Success

In episode 65 of Pit Stops to Podium, Cassie Yettru discusses the essential steps to become good at networking and the importance of networking to career development.  She also explains why integrating employee growth in company development is so important.

Cassie is the General Manager of Wise. She’s a career expert in the startups and software world, specializing in sales recruiting as a talent advisor and manager at CloserIQ. She joined in 2017 and has been working on Wise since 2019.

She has extensive cross-functional experience and expertise across sales, customer success, partnerships, marketing, product, event production, and management and a proven track record of successful project management across several departments in multiple role functions in an early-stage startup environment.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!

Pitstop Highlights

Essential Steps to Become Good at Networking

The most important step is just to start.  After that, it's important to figure out what works for you.  If you're in a big city, face-to-face networking may be more applicable than if you're in a rural area where virtual events may be the more practical avenue.  Regardless of the type of event, consistency is key.  For example, you should have a goal of 1 or 2 networking meetings you attend each quarter.  Lastly, have a goal in mind of what you want to accomplish with each meeting.

"You don't need to go to Dreamforce to start networking, it could be something really simple and low-key."

Networking Online and Offline

For smaller, start-up companies, there will usually be internal networking opportunities in the form of attending in-person events with colleagues.  At larger companies, there will often be mentorship programs and ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) which will bring together opportunities to network.

"As much as I love talking to all of our members online, nothing does replace seeing them in person"

Integrating Employee Growth in Company Development

Regardless of the size of your organization, upward performance reviews at every tier of leadership are a must for employees to feel that they have the opportunity to share feedback anonymously.  Companies also need to do a better job at having conversations, outside of performance reviews, with employees regarding their career path and what they are interested in both internally and externally.

"It opens up that talk track in a really honest way where employees don't feel that they're going to get in trouble for saying that they're interested in something else."

Connect with Leslie



Full Transcript

Brendan:  Welcome to Pit Stops to Podium the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who have competed and won in one taking their companies from high growth to high scale.  My name is Brendan Tolleson I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners and I'm delighted to invite Cassie Yettru to this edition of Pit Stops to Podium.  Welcome Cassie.

Cassie:  Hi thanks for having me.

Brendan:  Yeah you're we are delighted to have you and for those that may not know who Cassie is Cassie is a expert in the software uh and startup World specializing in sales recruiting as well as a talent advisor where she's been at CloserIQ since 2017 and has closely been working with Wise since 2019.  Cassie for those who may not know who Wise or CloserIQ is um this would be your opportunity to give the soft pitch of this company.

Cassie:  Yeah for sure so I run Wise which is a division of CloserIQ.  So Wise is a global community empowering women in sales and CloserIQ is a talent strategy firm specializing in connecting companies with top sales and Engineering Talent so like you said started at CloserIQ and was a sales recruiter for a long time managed the team of sales recruiters and then pivoted to become the general manager of Wise back in 2019 and have been running that as a business unit for the past couple years.

Brendan:  Well I think that's a good uh some good context as to the big idea which we'll get to in just a second which is really around the value of professional development for Career Success uh but before we do that um Cassie we have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium and that's to get to know uh our guests outside of work so what are some passions or hobbies that our audience should know about you?

Cassie:  Ya I am huge animal lover and I have a  dog that I love and  have been riding horses my whole life, rode in college and still do that on the side now when I have time uh love to cook love to bake and then really take advantage of all the things that Colorado has to offer so skiing camping hiking all the outdoors the cliche quintessential Colorado activities really.

Brendan:  What's the last thing you baked?

Cassie:  Oh let's see probably a coconut cake over Christmas.

Brendan:  Oh nice I baked some banana bread with um I've got into baking I just got a bread maker um and I've been messing around so banana bread was the most recent thing I made I was just curious what kind of baking you're into.

Cassie:  Yeah all the things.

Brendan:  That's great, all right well let's let's get into the big idea which um you know in light of what you've been uh doing for the for quite a while now um there is this importance around networking for Career Success I don't think that's a novel concept but I think you bring a unique lens into it given your experience uh an expertise so as we get started I think a good question to just to frame it is you know what does networking mean to you uh and why is it important to go to Career Development?

Cassie:  Yeah networking to me is is just growing right I think if you're not networking you're probably a little bit complacent and aren't doing anything to broaden your horizons get different perspective Etc I think a lot of times hindsight is 2020 and people that are a little bit earlier on in their careers don't realize the value of professional development until they're in a situation where they really need it and that's why I think really simplifying it to Growing makes it pretty easy to digest but it just means that you are throwing your perspective your knowledge your literal network of people that you know Etc but it encompasses a lot but I think saying is simply that it's growing is really what it comes down to.

Brendan:  Yeah I think that's a great definer and given I mean everyone's seen headlines going on right now um as we record this I mean there's a lot of fear and uncertainty as to what this means and so I would imagine that one desire to Growing but more importantly having that network network is you know is going to be more and more important as we move forward uh For Better or Worse candidly uh but so for those that either you know that are looking to get into networking uh let's start there uh so what are some steps or must do things that they must become good at at networking?

Cassie:  Yeah I have uh I have a lot of thoughts here but I think the first thing is is just to start right I think networking in general can be this kind of intimidating term that people just don't know where to begin with it but first thing is to just start pick one thing that you're going to do and then let that open up the the door to it but um being consistent I think is really important in figuring out what works for you are you still living in a major city and you have access to a lot of in-person events or are you in a rural area or in the suburbs and you need to look at more virtual opportunities I think figuring out what will make sense for you and then setting some sort of goal both on consistency whether it's one event a quarter one coffee conversation a quarter or a year or a month whatever it might be and then also having a goal around what you want to get out of it so are you trying to Pivot into new Industries and you want to learn more about what that looks like and whether you actually want to make the pivot or you you thinking about getting into leadership and you want to talk to leaders who have made that jump from being an individual contributor to a leader recently are you learning a new sales methodology looking at a new platform but really just having it on what am I trying to get out of this right now and obviously that will change and then what your consistency is um doesn't have to be this huge thing you're not you don't need to go to Dreamforce to start networking it could be something really simple and low low-key um and then the last piece I would say on networking is trying not to do it with your co-workers if you're in a position to do that if you go with a couple buddies from the office and you go to a networking event you're probably going to stick to each other if you do go with them don't talk to each other right maybe you go together and you leave together and you get dinner or drinks afterwards but encourage each other to talk to people individually so that you're not using that person or people as a little bit of a crutch so that you all can go and learn and then you're meeting different people and can share those ideas and connections as well so it's a little comforting to go with people you know but I recommend not doing it.

Brendan:  Yeah I think it goes back to your original point is the intent of networking is growth and if you are going to limit your access to people you already know then you're not really stretching yourself um it's it's a good first step your second point however is not achieving the ultimate outcome uh so for those that are thinking through you know we talked a little bit so hey desire is growth being be clear about what you're trying to achieve is what kind of what you're going to next uh how do they and you talked a little bit about you know did they do this in person versus digital let's let's you know double click on that for a second um so it sounds like hey what you want to achieve and where you're located will likely dictate the right um Channel or opportunity but um how should our audience be thinking through what what makes sense for them?

Cassie:  In terms of how to network?

Brendan:  Yeah like what is it a physical event is it a digital event or what's the right Community for them?

Cassie:  So I think they're they're always a couple different ways that you can do it there are generally opportunities internally at your organization whether you are at a very early stage startup and you have five other co-workers maybe they have said you know what let's go to this in-person event because you're probably in a large city if you're doing that at an early stage startup um and then larger companies often have ergs employee resource groups so a lot of times they're focused on some sort of ethnicity or specific group so that could be women at X company lgbtqia+ at X company um moms at ex-company veterans Etc and so a lot of times those groups will bring together opportunities to network and they'll bring in speakers and things like that so I think that's a good way of doing it internally um a lot of times there are mentorship programs within large organizations where you can request to get mentored by someone in a different department in a different office maybe it's in a different country Etc so I think those two opportunities are really great to get perspective within your own organization and just really understand who else is here what can I learn from them how can I meet other people and figure out what they're going through and what they're struggling with and what they're doing well and then when you think of events I think whether or not you're in a large city most companies that are putting on events are now doing them virtually as well obviously because of covid so the physical piece isn't as much of a limitation but if you are in a city where you can go physically I think it is great um we had an in-person event last October and as much as I love talking to all of our members online nothing does replace seeing them in person and you know sharing a glass of wine and talking to them um most of the time you can just Google your industry a topic a role and your city and you will see things pop up Eventbrite is a great place that collects a lot of free events and things like that so in terms of membership communities I think that's another really great place to find others especially when you think about who this podcast is geared towards and who's probably listening so your Pavilions rev genius modern sales Pros Wise um you know those are obviously within the sales marketing and just general leadership and executive focuses um but pretty much any type of role that you might be in there's probably a community out there that maybe is free maybe you have to pay something for it and they vary in terms of what they offer from a benefit perspective as well but that's a great way I think to find external perspective to supplement those ergs and mentorship groups that might be happening within your own company.

Brendan:  Yeah I think I think it's right I think there's also this I'll be curious to get your thoughts on this so I I think there's a Temptation that in light of these communities are being created to your point about Pavilion rev genius MSP whatever it may be you know there's different organizations based off of function but if I'm an employer uh whether I'm a CEO or a cro there's a temptation to say I'm just going to Outsource that um for development like that exists um and they can take these classes uh what would be your not necessarily rebuttal but your your encouragement to say Hey you do need them that's not only and like these allowing for your employees to have Outlets from a community perspective to learn but there's also this internal career development that you need to have uh what I guess what how should I think about that when should they start investing in it um because that I think I'm starting to see that more and more that just go to go there we're not going to invest in that internally uh what's your response to that?

Cassie: Yeah I think you need to do to do and a lot of times it's the smaller companies that I think are prioritizing it more but don't have the resources to do it yet both from a time and a financial perspective but I mean at the end of the day if you want to retain your talent regardless of what department they are in you need to support them and I think offering them opportunities both externally or they can meet other people and find other perspectives and then also giving them really clear and defined career ladders leadership development programs internally mentorship um you need to do both and at the end of the day you may lose some good talent because they meet someone through one of those external Partners or learn something that maybe they wouldn't have thought of even through the internal programming that you're offering that makes them leave but at the end of the day I think it's also really important that companies encourage the leaders that they have in place to show what they're doing and how they're engaging with it because that will set the tone for what the reports do and what your new employees do as well so when you have leaders that can be vulnerable and say hey I'm taking this online course from udemy or Coursera because I want to learn this particular skill and I'm also um I've got a mentor internally who encouraged me to do that that is going to show your newer talent and newer employees that there are opportunities both internally and externally so I think to answer your question you can Outsource some of it but you also need to build programs internally um you know there's no perfect answer to it but I think every company is finding the right mix that works for them if you're a small company and you have no time or resources to do anything internally you have to Outsource it to show your employees that you're doing something um whereas obviously if you're at a larger company they might be less.

Brendan:  Well yeah I think that maybe we agree to disagree here and I don't disagree that point but I think there is there is a minimum or and let's like I think you would say hey regardless of how mature the organization is like how do you incorporate this idea of like feedback from a performance perspective how do you give as a release of development for your employees make sure that you're creating some type of Rhythm or Cadence and potentially even structure as to say Hey how do we um show people how to not only develop it from like their skill set competency in their current role they're in and maybe where they want to go so how do they how does that become an investment that all employees probably should should make?

Cassie:  So I think there are a couple things that you can do just to Implement some of those those practices and pieces that you mentioned first of all regardless of the size of your organization upward performance reviews are imperative we have them all the way our CEO so even the people that report to our CEO fill out upward performance reviews on him and HR culminates that feedback and then shares it with him anonymously so that it's not singling anyone out but I think having those at every tier of leadership is really important so that every single employee feels like they have the opportunity to share feedback anonymously on their manager in a way that will be productively delivered back to them and another thing that I don't think enough companies do particularly when it comes to professional development is having designated conversations with employees separate from performance reviews around what they are thinking about from their careers long-term perspective so we have them internally we call them pdms professional development meetings and those are held quarterly and  separate from performance reviews which are held by annually and it's essentially how do you see your career in the next one three to five years do you still see yourself at the company in I think it's five years what other areas or roles are you interested in both internally and externally et cetera et cetera so we're asking those types of conversations or questions excuse me so that our employees can really say hey I'm really enjoying this recruiting role but people operations is something that I'm also kind of interested or sales is something that I'm really interested in um and we've had some really impactful moves both internally and externally come from conversations like that but I think those are really important to have.

Brendan:  Yeah I like that because it it we do that at our at our company and it's a lot around ok is there I think it's kind of two aspects one is just the company and the culture like do you see yourself here for the long term but the second gets into more but you individually what is it that you desire to do and like that puts the burden on the employer to say Hey how do I create a path for that individual to make sure that there is a role or a path for him or her to get to what she's passionate about um and so it's that alignment really and almost there's a tour of Duty concept of hey here's what I'm doing now but here's where I want to go um and so you have that exchange and you have that transparency on both sides which I think is creates trust candidly um and to ensure you have the right um yeah I mean it really allows for both sides to succeed.

Cassie:  Oh absolutely I mean the person running HR at our company right now was not in an HR role three years ago and expressed in one of these meetings that it was something she was interested in and she didn't get there immediately to your point but it opens up that talk track in a really honest way where employees don't feel that they're going to get in trouble so to speak for saying that they're interested in something else.

Brendan:  Well that's great well as we wrap up Cassie kind of the final lap um you know I think it really just I'm gonna I'll consolidate it down and it's just really as people think through um hey you kind of mentioned the intense growth and just take your next step um if you are encouraging our audience hey that next step um like what are some very easy like practical wins as it relates to taking that next step?

Cassie:  Yeah I think look for virtual events that are online we do many companies do them um you can sign up for them very easily they are free a lot of big companies and small companies in the tech space offer them pick something that has a topic that you are interested in I think picking topic first and not caring so much about who's speaking on it is more important because you want to think about again going back to what I said in the beginning what are you trying to get out of this yeah so pick a topic what's top of mind for you right now it's January of a new year um search for something that's top of Mind sign up for an event and set a goal for yourself to connect on LinkedIn with two people after that event and I think that's even if you don't do the LinkedIn connections that's a really good to start.

Brendan:  And I think to your point is an easier way to not the the temptations do something with your co-workers if it's in person and virtual removes a little bit of that fear if you will of having to have a social aspect where you can just show up on a virtual screen and listen so I think that's a that's an easy Next Step that most our audience can take.  Well Cassie if if our audience wants to take a next step to get to know you or ask you a question um what is what's the right way to engage with you?

Cassie:  LinkedIn for now is is where I would direct folks.

Brendan:  Okay great well hey thank you so much for stopping by we really I've really enjoyed this conversation I'm sure our audience will learn a lot from this as it relates to how to develop um both from a community perspective But ultimately from a career development perspective internally so thanks for the insights and we look forward to staying in touch.

Cassie:   Yeah for sure thank you take care.

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