My career plan was pretty much set in stone from the time I was 4 years old.
My parents were always high performers, having left our former country (Yugoslavia) to provide a better life for my sister and I. Several of my parents’ network were successful people in the technology ecosystem. From my fourth birthday on, I felt as if I was being groomed to enter the same line of work.
It didn’t help that my high school friends gravitated towards technological interests: video games, computer science, physics, math. Yea, we were all nerds. There’s a famous Jim Rohn quote, and I’m paraphrasing — “you’re the sum of the five closest people to you.” Needless to say, I drifted towards a degree in software development.
My career false start
I had my first career success landing a contract role at Google’s Kitchener, Ontario campus. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but some of the industry’s best developers (who had written the textbooks I had studied in fourth year university!) were in the same room as me.
In all honesty, I was a mediocre developer at best. There were people who were spending evenings and weekends working on personal passion projects, and that just wasn’t for me.
I took one more software development job after that, which sent me across the country to Calgary. But I soon realized the solitude, and the frustration of developing complex algorithms, was not for me.
Fast forward a few years, and I had dabbled in roles including software development, technical support, customer success, and some light sales. I was lucky enough, in one of those roles, to have a Director of HR who genuinely wanted what was best for my career. One day, he mentioned that I was a “Type A” and not the right fit for the technical role this company had hired me for. As he was a friend, he offered to help me get in interview in sales — he truly believed that’s where I was meant to be.
That evening, I sent out my first resume, which later became my first real sales job, and that’s when I discovered Plum.
How Plum jump-started my new career path
I created a Plum Profile, in transparency, because it helped me understand myself and communicate the value of my unconventional makeup of traits.
My top talents were Persuasion, Decision-Making, and Managing Others. I was, in all honesty, a bit shocked. Plum perfectly mapped out my personality, and all it took was 20 minutes answering some questions about myself. It was like a virtual psychic reading.
"Plum perfectly mapped out my personality, and all it took was 20 minutes answering some questions about myself. It was like a virtual psychic reading."
The Plum Profile was pivotal in acquiring the role I took with that first sales company — not to mention, it dramatically improved my confidence. It had identified some traits I possessed that, prior to having the insight Plum provided, I was viewing negatively. It turns out that simply learning to embrace those traits, and lean into the positive implications of them, helped me to showcase my best self to the organizations and products I would eventually represent.
Plum’s data has helped me market myself in so many ways. I use it as collateral in interviews. Being in sales, I negotiate for a living, and I can say one thing very confidently: data helps make salary negotiations much easier.
My career today
I’m a territory sales manager with OCTOPUZ, a robotic automation software solution used by thousands of brands across the globe, enabling them to de-risk prototyping and validate their processes, and dramatically improve their speed-to-market. I am definitely what you would call a “hunter” in the sales world — the “thrill of the chase” salesperson.
On the surface, sales is about generating revenue. On a deeper level, sales is a role designed specifically with the intent of changing mental models in our prospective clients. They believe the world operates one way — and I know it can operate differently, much to their benefit. Our goal is to transition them from one way of thinking to another. This involves high levels of social awareness, which typically is not a critical trait for technical roles.
Years after initially creating it, I still notice day-to-day tasks in my job that perfectly align with my Plum Profile. Daily, I engage in activities that require rapid decision-making, confident leadership, and a very high persuasive aptitude.
If you’re a job seeker feeling a little lost in your job search, or you’re struggling to articulate what makes you so valuable in a salary negotiation, I would highly recommend you complete your own Plum Profile. You’ll get insight into what makes you unique (backed by data), and you’ll learn how to demonstrate your strengths in a whole new way, too.
Are you a University of Waterloo student? Access your Plum Profile and free Talent Grow Guide.
Christian Retek believes in the mantra, “If you’re going to do something, do it right, or don’t do it at all.” For the past 5 years, he has transitioned across industries including software development, customer support, and has finally arrived at sales as a territory sales manager at OCTOPUZ in Waterloo, Ontario. In everything he does, he asks “who is the best,” learns from them, applies their methods, and iterates constantly.