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Today we are talking with John Wallet about his career as a Director of Operations for STC Safety Training and Compliance (Safety and Risk Management Consulting).
John and I worked together as a team over 5 years ago when we both worked in the finance sector. At the time, John and I managed training and development opportunities for Investment Counselors. Since that time John has moved to a new state and stepped into a new career field. John's love for his family is something I admire most about him. He always had a funny story to share about his kids or an amazing accomplishment to share about his wife and her small business. It's so great to see your former coworkers and friends taking on new challenges!
Now let's learn more about John...
Name: John Wallet
Director of Operations
Years in Current Position:
How Can I
Connect with John?
Connect on LinkedIn!
What does a day in the life of a Director of Operations look like?
It sounds cliché, but every day is different. I could spend an entire day strategizing on the
direction of our business, coaching our people, ensuring our client’s needs are being met,
building out new processes, managing our internal systems, managing our employee benefits, recruiting and making a Costco run to make sure the fridges are stocked for the team!
What role or roles did you have prior to your current position?
My first “career” role was an Assistant Bond Trader at the now defunct Countrywide Securities from 2005-2008, during the boom and bust of the financial sector. Following that role, I was a Portfolio Manager for a small Investment Advisor and then became an Investment Counselor, Program Manager and Team Leader for a large investment firm.
How did your experience in previous roles help you succeed in your current position?
It’s funny how our experiences shape us for better or for worse. When I look back on my career, I was so fortunate to have great managers and mentors who challenged me, were patient with me and pushed me outside my comfort zone. They helped me stretch, learn, broaden and deepen my knowledge and skill set. There are a few key areas they helped develop that have made me successful in my current role.
Emotional Intelligence: This is definitely a key driver of my success and is a huge skill to have in life and business. I have honed this skill by working very closely with customers.
Understanding Data: Over the course of my career I have also developed and deepened my analytical skills. I use these skills to make fact-based decisions and build metrics. These metrics drive the activity and accountability needed to get results for our company. Everyone should learn to compile, organize, and tell a story with data.
Training and Development: I learned to build teaching curriculum and programs which helps me to continue to develop our employees every day. Identifying gaps in your team and providing training to close those gaps helps them become better, increases their engagement and improves the customer experience.
Engaging with the C-Suite: My prior roles gave me opportunities to engage with C- Suite leaders. I learned how to be professional and personable while influencing business decisions.
All I can say is that I have been so fortunate in my career. I credit much of my success to great people who saw my potential and helped extract it. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife for her counsel, patience and faith in my potential.
Is there any specialty training or area of expertise needed to succeed in your current role?
For my role, one just needs to know how to do many things well. It’s not a role that requires tremendous depth in a particular aspect of business.
I need to have a basic understanding of our industry and our clients, but the real expertise lies with our relationship managers and field managers who are the face of the company with the client and doing the hard work. They are great at surfacing the problems and solutions that makes our company great.
How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?
I just had this conversation with my boss over lunch. We talk about the future of the business and our team often. We call it Dream Session Fridays. My specific role over time will move to a more strategic function and I will be focused on managing a team of team leaders who will be more skilled than I am in the details of their team’s responsibilities.
We have plans to grow the business 4x in 5 years, so I am also shifting my focus to spend more time creating a roadmap on how to get there and building models to manage that growth. Instead of having to build curriculum myself, I’ll be challenging the team to build it themselves and deliver it. I want to be doing what my mentors have done for me and empower my team to try new things, break things and learn things while providing guardrails to ensure they don’t get too far off track.
What is something you wish more people knew about your job?
I’m not sure what other people with the title of Director of Operations do, but being at a small company, I have to wear many hats. My focus isn’t just on who is doing what on a daily basis, but there is large aspect of personal development, customer service, analytics, setting up and managing systems (like our CRM), working closely with our owner, managing our goals and metrics and presenting to our team on our wins and losses. This role requires a very broad knowledge and skillset, which is why I love it.
Also, not just anybody can do what I do. My boss, the owner, has a more visionary mindset and needs someone who can translate his ideas and concepts into action. He’s very good at casting a vision and generating ideas, and I’m very good at understanding his ideas, poking holes in ideas, giving those ideas structure and ways of being measured and executed on. We work very well together and not everyone would have that chemistry. To quote Simon Sinek, “In every case of a great charismatic leader who ever achieved anything of significance, these was always a person lurking in the shadows who knew how to take the vision and make it a reality.” I have the quote on my office wall.
How did you find this career field?
It’s really a funny story. Never, in a million years, did I think I would end up in the Safety industry. I never knew that was a thing. What’s interesting, and what had huge appeal to me, was the consulting side of the business. Companies like Bain, Boston Consulting and McKinsey always fascinated me and piqued my interest in being a consultant, but I would hate traveling constantly for work, so this role was perfect!
My career path was in the investment world. I was licensed, had lots of experience, really
enjoyed it and thought I was going to do that forever. There came a point in my career where I started to get a bit bored of the finance industry and there wasn’t another role within the company I was with that sounded exciting, so I started looking around. A friend of mine, and former coworker, told me I needed to come work with him and his boss, who was also a friend of mine. They invited me to meet with him about a role he was looking to fill, as he had heard about my background and experience from our mutual friend. He shared with me the trouble he was having at the company by trying to do too much himself and not having the skillset the company and its people needed. His company struggled with data intelligence, program management, systems management, people development and employee retention, customer retention and professionalism. He admitted that he was a terrible people manager and his people and company were suffering because he had to manage it all. That was all music to my ears because what he needed was exactly what I was passionate about and had experience doing. Now I’m here and we have made tremendous progress in all regards of the business.
What's the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn't learn from your resume?
I’m a super nerdy, athletic, family man.
I love to learn, which is probably why I have so many hobbies. New hobbies allow me to learn something new and challenge myself. That’s how I got into 3D printing and flying drones.
F45 Fitness has also become an obsession of mine over the last year. It’s a great workout and lots of fun. I played basketball through high school, paintball at the college level (as a grad student!) and love to coach my son in baseball, basketball and football.
I also have two amazing daughters who are cute, funny, artistic, athletic and great humans. My wife is an entrepreneur who started making baby quilts and turned it into a thriving fabric business that has taken over our house. We are in the process of building a new home that gives her more workspace. We stay busy, have a lot of fun and count our blessing every day that we have been healthy, happy and successful.
If you are interested in learning more about John and his experience, please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. There is a button with a direct link at the top of the blog!
If you would like to be featured on the Talent Spotlight Series, please contact me here!
I would love to share your career journey!