Differentiate yourself from others and be willing to take on jobs that others won’t. Those are two important lessons Fred Blatchford, Director of Sales for Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, told Harbert College of Business students at a Thursday luncheon.
Blatchford leads a 200-person sales force at Ethicon, which specializes in the development and marketing of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgical devices and suture. Blatchford, who graduated in 1985 with a degree in Industrial Management, offered advice and answered questions.
“The first job you take will not be the last,” said Blatchford, who began his career as a sales representative for the Otis Elevator Company before making the move to Ethicon in 1992. “Get into an organization and work on your brand.”
Blatchford, whose career brought him to Dallas, Cincinnati twice, Orlando, Atlanta, and Tampa, where he now calls home, encouraged students to consider working outside of the “triangle of Atlanta, Birmingham and Montgomery.”
“Those are great cities to live and work – but they are not the only cities,” he said. “As competitive as it is, you have to find ways to differentiate yourself against your job competition. You can do that by being willing to do things that others might not – including working as far away as Kansas City. Or maybe you can take on that special project that no one else is willing to do. If you continue to do well, then there will be other opportunities that come your way. That first job opportunity, even if it’s in Kansas City, take it. Then slowly get back to where you want to go. It won’t be the last place you work.”
Blatchford also encouraged students to get experience in a variety of disciplines.
“Just because you get a degree in a certain discipline, that doesn’t mean you have to stay there,” he said. “Taking on other responsibilities helps your brand and helps you build a better portfolio.
“The ability to flex your style and take some risks are major components of being successful in the sales world. You clearly have to be able to deal with ambiguity because there is never solid ground beneath you for very long. What you know today probably isn’t going to be the same tomorrow. You’ve must be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. The people who are willing to do those things never have a problem finding more impactful options in their careers.”
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