Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Jordan, an Account Executive for Hazlnut:
Thanks for joining us, Jordan.
Thanks for having me!
To get started, tell us about what you were doing before starting at Hazlnut?
Before working at Hazlnut, I worked for Publix: a supermarket chain based here in Florida. I worked there for over 6 years and it’s the only other job I’ve ever had. Publix’s Tuition Reimbursement program allowed me to work there part-time all the way through college without having to worry too much about class payments. I graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2019, shortly before I started at Hazlnut.
How do you feel Publix prepared you for your role at Hazlnut?
Publix is all about customer service and quality. When I interviewed with Hazlnut, I asked Dick Sikes, our CEO, what the company values were and those were two things that he mentioned. I knew it would be a great fit.
Publix helped me gain invaluable people skills that have helped me in my current role. During my middle and high school years, I was the quiet kid. Working a customer service role forced me to talk to people all day, every day and that helped me gain a level of confidence that has carried over into my position here at Hazlnut.
Was it strange transitioning from retail to software sales?
Definitely! Working in retail is very fast paced. There is always something to do and more customers to help. But it’s always the same exact thing every day, just moving customers through the line.
Compare that to my job at Hazlnut… It’s night and day! The job here is task-oriented, so it feels more satisfying to get things done. The work environment is also much more relaxed, which I definitely appreciate.
How did you hear about Hazlnut, and how did you start working there?
That’s a funny story, actually. I was about 2 months away from graduating college and having trouble finding jobs that seemed like a good fit for me. Marketing was my major, but I was never really into the creative side of marketing. Business to Business sales were something I had a growing interest in, but sales can be tough to step into without any experience or internships under your belt.
One day a close friend of mine applied for an E-Commerce position with PS27 Ventures, a group that invests in Startups. He mentioned a sales position was available, and the possibility of working together peaked my interest. I applied, and later discovered that the position was for Hazlnut, a business that PS27 invested in. After researching the company, I became very interested in what Hazlnut was doing. I moved forward with the interview and was offered the job later on.
That’s great! I know B2B sales can be cut-throat. How do you stay inspired in your sales position?
It’s definitely a challenge sometimes. I was told it would be an emotional rollercoaster, but I didn’t really realize what that meant until I got started.
Sometimes things go really well and everything seems to come so easily, other times you have to grin and bear it until things start to fall into place. But, between my faith and the encouraging work environment here, I’m able to work through the rough days, knowing that better times will come if I work hard enough.
What do you do outside of work?
I love to spend time with my girlfriend, friends, and family, but when I have free time, I enjoy watching sports and playing video games. Both of my football teams, the Jaguars and Seminoles, aren’t doing very well right now so, like sales, it can be an emotional rollercoaster and I try to stay positive!
COVID-19 really ramped up around the time that you got hired, and after only a few weeks you ended up working from home for several months. At its height, how did COVID-19 affect the way you connected with the team and restaurant owners?
I was just beginning to get comfortable around the office and all of a sudden I had to work from the desk in my room. Communication between the team was tougher and we had to meet on Zoom every morning to make sure we were all on the same page. Everyone was really helpful in making sure I was well equipped to do what was asked.
Thankfully, it didn’t really affect communication with restaurant owners on my end, as most of what I do is through email or Zoom. However, it did cause me to become an independent employee much faster. Doing demos from home without my bosses around to help or answer questions, forced me to learn new things on my own in such a short amount of time.
I understand working for a growing startup business is considered risky to most college students. Do you have any recommendations for young professionals who are afraid to take a leap of faith shortly after graduating?
Through college, I always assumed I’d find a job with a big company and try to work my way up in a secure environment. At Publix, everything was structured by corporate and there wasn’t much flexibility, so that’s what I was accustomed to. Working for a start-up is a completely different world. You have a lot more say in how things are done, and you get an in-depth look into how the business is actually run.
I’m really thankful I ended up working here, and to those who are afraid of taking the leap: I recommend you look at the leadership and values above anything else. If you feel confident in the leader’s ability to take the company where it needs to go, and the values are consistent with those goals, then it’s worth taking the chance!
Thanks for your time today, Jordan!
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