September 29, 2016
“Fresh out of college. Fresh in the industry. Fresh with the product.” That’s how 2014 marketing graduate Kenisa Davis, a sales associate for Boral Composites, Inc., described herself to Dr. Paula Fitzgerald's Sustainable Marketing class.
“A huge thing I learned that I didn’t know while I was still in school that I told the students is just to embrace being the new kid,” Davis said. “It doesn’t help anyone trying to get a job or meet someone somewhere and pretend like you know everything or put on a front because people can see right through that. So, embrace your freshness and use it to your advantage. Ask questions.”
Dr. Fitzgerald recently invited Davis, who is currently living and working in Columbus, Ohio, back to the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics to talk to her sustainable marketing students about her job at Boral, a multinational company dealing in building and construction materials.
“My main objective was to come into the class – where I sat two years ago – I wanted to talk to those people, to the students sitting in that classroom who were about to graduate. Maybe they know what they’re going to do, maybe they don’t know what they’re going to do, but if there’s any help I can give or a perspective on what I did to get where I am or what I didn’t do or the things I thought were important,” Davis said.
After graduating in December 2014, the Parkersburg, West Virginia, native ventured off to Columbus in search of her dream job in the marketing or sales arena, but landed the position as business development representative at a car dealership. After about a year, she landed a job as a targeted account specialist at The Columbus Dispatch.
“I thought that would be a great place for me to be, and it was. About six months into it, I got a call from a recruiter that found my resume online from when I was looking for my job at the Dispatch. He presented me with the [Boral] opportunity. I decided to look more into it, and I realized about a month into the process that it was something that I really wanted to do. I realized it was a good fit for both them and me,” she said.
While her time with The Columbus Dispatch was short-lived, she attributes a lot of her great experience to that step in her career.
“[The best piece of advice I would give someone] as far as sales goes: get a cold-calling position. Get it out of the way. Learn how hard it is, and eventually you’ll get something where you don’t have to do that as much. When I was at the Columbus Dispatch, I cold-called all the time, and it was super hard, but I’m so glad I learned that experience because it has helped me so much,” she stated.
Now on the right track in her career, Davis began with Boral four months ago, but the company started experimenting with the product she sells about 10 years ago.
“You have two different types of building materials. There’s heavy materials for infrastructure and commercial projects. This is light buildings – more for residential, multi-family and some commercial. It’s exterior trim and panelized stone. The reason why Paula really likes it and wanted me to share it with the class is because the trim itself is made out of fly ash – 70 percent recycled material,” she said. “It’s a byproduct of coal actually. Take the ash that comes out of burning coal, and we use that as filler, basically just put it in with glue and a blend of polymers.” It creates this product that looks like wood that doesn’t have any of the problems wood creates. It doesn’t cycle any of the moisture. It doesn’t have expansion or contraction and thermal changes.”
And now that she has finally landed her dream job, Davis is thrilled to be with a company that fosters growth and learning.
“There are different levels of sales. I deal with pull through. I work directly with architects and contractors. I basically work on education and awareness for the product for them downstream. The next step is for me to work with lumberyards that stock the product,” she said. “I love the company. Everything I have experienced in how they care for their employees is amazing. At this point, I don’t see myself wanting to go anywhere else. I want to work up into this company. There’s a step up to working directly with the lumberyards. Then, the next step is territory manager that works with our distributor.”