When I grow up, I want to be…
Christa Bender, Client Services Manager and Eastern U.S. and Hubspot Trainer at Pivot Communications.
We interviewed Christa to learn more about her career path and how she got to where she is today.
Here’s what she shared:
Tell us about your current position and your involvement in the industry.
I am a Client Services Manager for Pivot. I volunteer for AVIXA as a member of the Content & Learning Committee. Each committee has a three-year limit so it’s time for me to say goodbye to the committee (sniff, sniff) and volunteer my time in another way. I am an active member of the AVIXA Career Empowerment Alliance as well as a supporter of the AVIXA Women’s Council.
What do you love about your current job?
I absolutely adore my coworkers. I know people say that, but I mean it. I work with a fantastic team that has depths of knowledge—everyone brings something unique to the team, which is refreshing.
I love that I took on the challenge of marketing for the AV industry. Marketing is tough and often it is the first effort to be put on the backburner when people get busy, but it has a huge impact on your business. I enjoy helping clients develop relevant and helpful content that will attract prospects and customers to their website and blog.
What made you transition to the career path you have today?
I previously worked in the travel industry and while I liked the perks of traveling at a heavily discounted price, I wanted to do something more. I’ve always enjoyed technology and wanted to work in an environment that encourages deep thinking and technical know-how.
Fortunately, my husband (then boyfriend) worked in the AV industry and knew of a position that was available at an integrator. After a month of working at the integrator, I was able to talk with my husband about ISDN, VoIP, VGA, resolution, cables, etc., it was awesome!
What was the first job you had and what did you learn from it?
My first job was at a pizza shop. I worked mostly on the sandwich side but would fill in on the pizza side or at the register as needed. I had a lot of laughs during that job but realized it wasn’t a career I wanted to pursue, that I needed more mental stimulation in my day-to-day work environment.
Did you meet anyone along the way that made an impact on you and your career path?
Absolutely! So many of the people I’ve worked with over the years have influenced me. If you’ve worked in an industry for over 16 years and can’t name a person who has impacted you, then I think you aren’t looking hard enough.
One influencer is Gina Sansivero from AtlasIED. We’ve known each other for at least 10 years and have supported and mentored each other numerous times over the years. Another influencer is Hope Roth from Riordan Brothers. Hope is my #AVSister and as soon as we met, we clicked instantly. We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and both volunteer many hours giving back to the AV industry, which was acknowledged in 2016 when we received the Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year Award from AVIXA. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t give Jane Johnson from Pivot a shout-out too. Jane and I were friends before she realized that she wanted my awesomeness to be a part of the Pivot team. All my marketing understanding and knowledge I directly attribute to Jane’s influence on me. We are a living example that you can be friend and work together! The last influencer I’ll mention on this too-short list (buy me a drink sometime and I’ll provide an extended version of the list) is Chuck Espinoza from AVIXA. Chuck inspires me to be the best version of myself and challenges me to look at what I can offer to the AV industry and encourages me to share my enthusiasm and knowledge.
What advice would you give to some who wanted to move into your career path?
Do it. Follow your dreams and desires. Change can be scary, but a lot of times change is what you need to move you down the path to achieve your goals.
To remain competitive in the job market, what is one critical skill that an employee should have?
A person should be open-minded. When you are thinking critically, you need do to able to look at all the information available and objectively analyze it. Included in this is being fair to others and to be inclusive.
What advice would you give job seekers as they start their careers?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people to ask for their opinion. If you are interviewing for a job and know someone that works at the company, ask for their opinion of the company and their internal communication structure. If someone is happy with their employer, there is probably a good reason.
Embrace constructive criticism. Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes happen so take the time to learn what went wrong and how the situation could have been handled differently. Then apply that knowledge to future situations.
What is a lesson(s) learned you can share that some reading this may benefit from?
You are the only one holding yourself back. Sure, there could be someone that is trying to sabotage you at work (that doesn’t happen as often as people think it does), so stop blaming your colleagues for not getting that promotion you wanted and take a look at what you can do differently. Consider what your next step in the path is and compile a list of what you need to do to get there—perhaps industry certifications are needed or maybe you need to change your career path—whatever you choose, you are in control of what you want to do, not the people around you.
What is something that folks would be surprised to learn about you?
I am an open book, so I am sure there are things that lots of people know about me. However, something that may surprise people is that I like quiet time. As much as I enjoy the company of other people, whether IRL or virtually, I enjoy having limited distractions around me. Usually at home my quiet time includes me, a book, and my dogs snuggling around me. When I used to commute to work (I am a remote worker now) I would occasionally drive the 45-60 minutes in silence, usually at the end of the day to compress from work before I got home. I enjoy sitting outside and listening to nature, although I couldn’t tell you what type of cricket, frog, or bird is chirping.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
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