Account Executive at Box, Thomas Turner, Talks About Breaking Into Tech and Living and Working in Austin, TX

"I'm Thomas, and I graduated from UVA's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy in May of 2016. While at UVA, I was recognized by The 21 Society, (one of the School's secret societies) I was the recipient of Batten's peer-voted, "Leader Among Leaders" award, and I worked as the school mascot, CavMan!

After graduating from Virginia, I moved to Austin to get into the tech industry, and currently work as a Large Enterprise Inside Account Executive at Box. In a sentence, we offer a cloud content management platform, so companies can lock-down their content, while offering a better experience for their employees as well as their customers.

Outside of work, I'm very passionate about policy-making, (both in the public and private sector) and the effects policies have on individuals and institutions. I've also become very interested in investing since entering the workforce, more specifically, identifying a sustainable path to minimize losses, to create long-term, low-risk, wealth, (so you can then do good in whichever area you see most pressing)."

Meet Thomas Turner
I was wondering how you heard about Box, what the application process was like, and if you interned there before graduating?

"I first learned about Box after my team lead at Oracle moved there for a new role, and by her recommendation that I check it out as well. I attended a Thursday evening, "Drink N Sync" happy hour event that Box put on, and was asked to come in the next day for a 2 hour round-robin interview process. On the drive home after the interview, they called me and asked if I would talk to the sales director right then, and two business days later they offered me a position, and I signed on Wednesday. So less than a week process that I had not really planned, but has worked out very well so far! And regarding interning — I did intern at a counter terrorism think tank outside DC, but did not have a sales-focussed internship before going to Oracle."

What was it like working at Oracle? Was it very different from the work culture at Box?

"Oracle was a great experience overall, but yes, it was a very different than Box. For starters, Oracle has well over 100K employees, (compared to Box's 2K) and they hire more than 500 new-grads each summer in Austin alone, so although it was a great way to meet a ton of people in a new city, it was also easy to feel like a cog in the machine. At Box, the office feels almost like a second family, as there's a constant effort made to sustain and build the office culture to make sure everyone feels comfortable and included."

You mentioned that you were an intern at a counter terrorism think tank in DC — can you talk more about your experience working here? What was your work like and if you did any policy analysis, what tools did you use?

"I worked at the International Center for Terrorism Studies, with the Potomac Institute, and my days consisted largely of researching terrorist attacks from the previous 24 hours, and consolidating them into briefs for leadership to read to know what was going on around the world. This was also during the peak of ISIS/ISIL, so I spent a lot of time researching Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and his followers propaganda videos and activities. It was open web, as in, we used nothing you could not find through your own computer and wifi. I would not recommend you do this without first understanding the severity of what you'll find."

I was wondering what a Large Enterprise Account Executive does? What is your day to day like in that role at Box?

"So, generally speaking, in tech sales, you start off as an inbound rep, where you follow up on inbound calls and chats. Next role is an outbound rep, where you build out accounts through research, (figure out which companies in your territory should have a high-propensity to care about the product you're offering) and then prospect into them to set meetings and uncover opportunities for business. Next role, (where I am) is often an Inside Account Executive (IAE), where I have a few outbound reps that roll up to me, and I support a few Account Executives who work remotely in their designated territory. Next role for me, (in the sales org) would be an AE, where I would fully own my own territory. In terms of life as an Inside Account Executive, my day to day involves various aspects of identifying areas for my accounts to more effectively leverage the Box platform, and helping ensure they get the most value from their investments with us so they continue to grow in the future."

What do you find the most exciting about working in sales?

"The most exciting aspect of sales is probably the universal skill set you acquire, along with being at the forefront of digital transformation projects. But thinking long-term, regardless of which industry or organization you want to work in down the road, I believe it's rarely going to hurt you having developed sales-related skills. I.e. Objection-handling, persuasion, negotiation, active-listening, forecasting, owning your own territory (business), etc."

I was wondering why you moved to Austin to get into the tech industry and what kind of tech culture exists there?

"When I signed with Oracle they gave me the option of moving to Boston, Austin, Santa Monica, or San Francisco. It didn't take much research to realize the cost of living in Austin + the lack of state income tax + the same salary in each office made Austin the clear choice. I've spent a fair amount of time in SF, and it's an awesome city, but the cost of living has gotten pretty out of hand, and Austin has blown up in the past decade with a number of tech companies building hubs here."

Do you have any advice for getting a job or internship at a smaller tech company or even a startup?

"Ideally you would want to know someone well who works at the company, (even better if they work in the same office and org that you want to do) but otherwise LinkedIn jobs is probably where I would go to look for positions.

And use this to prep for your interviews:"

What's your favorite thing about living in Austin? It seems like a great place to live after college!

"Oh man. The food, the people, and the community. Austin is a very cool place where the vast majority of people I know moved here within the last 5 years, and as such, you have a collection of less risk-adverse, (often young) professionals. Combine that with the weather, and you can be outside year round, and because it's a more conservative state, you will pay less in taxes and therefore have more money to enjoy with your friends!"

I'm curious to hear more about what you've learned about investing and as you said — ways to minimize losses while creating long-term growth. What would you recommend for students who are looking to get started early?

"I would recommend learning about passive investing. It's very lucrative for Wallstreet to encourage individuals to try and beat the market. (I.e. buy and sell stocks and receive returns better than the overall market.) Warren Buffet, Ray Dalio, Jack Bogle, and many other leaders in this space say there's a much smarter solution for the average investor — Dollar cost averaging into a number of low-fee unmanaged index mutual funds that represent various aspects of the market. You don't need to get a 500% return to accumulate a fortune, you need time and consistent investments, so you can take advantage of compound interest. If you're interested in learning more about this, (and I think every American should) go read:
1. Unshakable
2. Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns
3. The Richest Man in Babylon"

And lastly, what's your favorite part about your current position?

"My favorite part about my role is the freedom to find my own best path, (sales is inherently a bit less-structured than a profession like accounting) and the significance of the platform. For example, it's not uncommon for hospitals to tape encrypted CD's to the chests of patients on gurneys with the patients medical information as they're transported to another location, because they have to abide by HIPAA, and with Box, we can enable that hospital to provide the patients information to the appropriate specialists in an instant, providing a better experience for both the doctors and, more importantly, the patients."

MARCH, 19 / 2019