Valerie Collins has a knack for dreaming up possibilities — and making them happen.
The mom, student, inventor and full-time Frontier Communications employee says staying busy is her key to success. Over the last decade, she’s worked her way through four roles at Frontier, starting part-time in sales and recently landing a position as an enterprise account executive. Her golden rules for getting promoted? Create meaningful relationships with your coworkers and have integrity. She’ll explain the rest later.
We spoke with Valerie about how she juggles her side projects and bustling sales career, largely thanks to Frontier’s flexible and supportive sales culture. Then, she shared her best advice for creating strong sales relationships, taking time for yourself and finding a job that really fits who you are.
Tell us about your job. What are your main priorities at work?
I am an enterprise account executive. My main objective is to strategically manage our largest accounts and grow revenue. It is my priority to build high-level relationships within my assigned customer base.
What were you doing previously? What has your career path looked like?
I’ve been with Frontier 10 years in November and to be honest, I’m on the exact path that I wanted to be on when I first joined the firm. I started as a part-time sales representative doing cold calling, then moved to the residential call center — again in a sales role. From there, I moved to the commercial side of Frontier in the commercial call center where I learned patience, as well as the commercial products and services offered by Frontier. Then, I moved to a small business account executive position for four years and lastly to the position I’m in now.
What drew you to work at your current company?
It was a very difficult time in my life when I joined Frontier. I was a business owner that was a victim of the housing market crash in 2007 and 2008. I ended up having to close my business and search for work. It took two years, but I was hired by Frontier and have been promoted now four times.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is the relationships that I’ve established — both with the customers that I have served over the last 10 years, as well as with my colleagues. I feel that we are a great, big family and deal with all the issues that a large family does.
Tell us about the sales culture at Frontier. What is your favorite part of being a part of the sales team?
The sales culture at Frontier is fantastic. From the moment I became an AE, I knew this was where I belonged — and it is evident in my sales statistics. I was told from the very beginning to treat this role as my own company and I take advantage of that. I do not get micro-managed and am left to do my job as I see fit. I have a director that truly cares about our employee experience and always provides valuable guidance. I also have teammates that assist me with day-to-day tasks in managing my customer base.
Tell us a bit about your side projects.*
I have a couple side projects. I’m the owner of a small business that promotes a product that my husband and I have patented. I also attend University of Phoenix full-time to finish the bachelor’s degree that I started before I became a wife and mother. I’m over halfway there and I should have it completed in the next 18 months.
What is your patented product?
It's called the sink saddle.* It's a device that my husband and I came up with. We use the Dishwand — a sponge that allows you to put liquid soap in the hollow plastic handle. There’s no convenient place to put the Dishwand so the soap will leak down the drain, it will get your countertop all messy, you put it in a cup that you have to wash every week because it's gross. So, we went out in the garage and built this little wire configuration that basically goes over faucet and holds your Dishwand.
You are super busy working full time, running this business, studying and being a mother. What are your time management strategies? How do you make sure you have time for everything and for taking care of yourself?
The hard part is identifying what I can get done on a daily basis. I keep a planner — an old-fashioned day planner — on my desk that I take notes and scribble in. I also use the tools that I have in place from work and also from school — your Outlook calendar and your to-do list and that sort of thing.
Of course, on the school side, they pretty much tell me what I have due every week. I'm one of those people that tries to do as much as I can at the beginning of the week so that towards the end of the week, I don't have to worry about it. I work really hard Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I have a little bit of leeway on Friday, and then I totally disengage on Saturday and Sunday (or I try to).
Can you talk a bit about how your company is supportive of employees’ lives outside of work?
I am truly grateful for the education assistance I get from Frontier. I’m also blessed to not have to punch a time clock and to be able to work from home. I also participate in our 401K program and love that Frontier also contributes on my behalf.
Do you think that being able to pursue your other passions makes you a better employee?
I think being able to pursue other activities outside of work helps me stay focused on what is important. If I only focused on work, I would get burnt out. Having the flexibility of working full-time but being able to set my own schedule for appointments and other necessities has improved my quality of life.
What’s your no. 1 tip for women who are job searching but are unsure about whether they’re pursuing roles that are “the perfect fit” for them?
Keep trying different roles until you find one that is not like work at all. It should come as naturally as sales does for me. There is a saying: do what you love and love what you do!
The professional development opportunities at Frontier seem unmatched. You yourself have grown through many roles at the company. What is your no. 1 advice for women who want to see themselves grow within a single organization?
Like with anything, it all boils down to integrity and what you do in the role that you're in. When I started as a part-time, I call it a telemarketer position because that's really what it was, I had integrity there. I did my job well, I had integrity, I didn't go around making enemies. You just work really hard, do a great job and it comes naturally. It's always about staying engaged, learning and having integrity in your job every day.
What’s the most memorable piece of sales advice you’ve ever received?
Many years ago, a trusted colleague said: “At the end of the day, people buy from people.” I have taken that to heart. I can have and promote the best solutions on the planet, but if the customer doesn’t trust what I say or who I am, they will not buy from me.
Fairygodboss is proud to partner with Frontier. Find a job there today!
*Frontier policy does not prohibit all outside employment. However, Frontier is your primary employer and outside employment must never affect your work at Frontier and/or create a conflict of interest. For further information regarding this issue, please consult Frontier’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
*The reference to this product does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by Frontier.