When you think about growing your career, you likely imagine getting promoted or hopping from company to company to continually gain new experiences. Sandra Davis doesn’t necessarily see it that way, though — and she may be on to something.
“Growth doesn’t just mean upwards, as you can take sideways or even slightly downwards moves, which are really beneficial to your career,” she says.
Davis just began her fifth role at Terex Corporation, where she’s now the director of Finance Process Improvement, and she credits much of her satisfaction and success to her decision to grow her career within Terex rather than continue to job hop. “In my early career I did a lot of job-hopping, too, as it seemed to be the way to move and grow, gaining experience in different companies,” she explains. “But on reflection, the periods of most growth were not when I moved companies, but rather when I moved departments or took on a stretch role in a bigger company.”
In fact, Davis says she was drawn to Terex initially because she recognized it would be a great place to grow her career — and she hasn’t been disappointed.
Recently, Davis shared with Fairygodboss what, exactly, her career path has looked like within Terex, why she believes Terex is a uniquely incredible workplace, and the most memorable piece of career advice she’s ever received.
How long have you been with Terex? What about it made you first want to join?
I’ve been with Terex for seven years now, and am just starting my fifth role in the company. I initially joined because of the opportunities I saw to grow within the company, and I have not been disappointed!
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at Terex, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
I started with Terex in 2012 as the Financial Controller for the Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) segment in our Australian business, looking after the finance team and reporting to the leadership team. I soon moved up to be the Finance Director for Asia Pacific, still focused just on AWP. Later I was promoted again to manage the finance teams for all Terex segments within Asia Pacific so I had team members in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea.
In 2017, the company gave me a wonderful opportunity to step way out of my comfort zone with a new job in Switzerland, working as the Director of Commercial Operations in the Cranes segment. Here I had team members working in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, and the UK.
And now, effective mid-2019, I am taking on the role of Director, Finance Process Improvement for the AWP segment and will move to Redmond, WA.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
My best technical skill would be my ability to see waste in a process and then act to make things run more efficiently and effectively. I also have good abilities in assessing team strengths and getting the team aligned to work toward a common vision of the future. These skills combined have helped make me successful in each of the roles within Terex, and in prior companies.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
Given the different time zones Terex covers, I need to start every day by checking what emails have come in overnight to see if any are urgent. By the time I get to the office I have a rough plan for what I will be working on for the day, but of course the priorities can change. At the end of the day I review what I didn’t get to and make a rough plan for the following days. By keeping track of all the outstanding things, I feel in control.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?
In my early career I did a lot of job-hopping, too, as it seemed to be the way to move and grow, gaining experience in different companies. But on reflection the periods of most growth were not when I moved companies, but rather when I moved departments or took on a stretch role in a bigger company.
It is much easier to start a new role when you already know some people in the firm and the general culture of the place. By being the best you can be at your job, and by building strong networks within the company, anything is possible. I’m not saying you should stay in one company for your whole career, but I do believe you do need to grow as much as you can in each company before you take the plunge to go elsewhere. Growth also doesn’t just mean upwards, as you can take sideways or even slightly downwards moves, which are really beneficial to your career.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at Terex?
There are plenty of challenges here, so I haven’t been bored! The Terex Way values have also been key. The six values include integrity, respect, and citizenship, which are common in many firms. Where Terex stands out is how they truly value improvement, they have a great servant leadership focus, and they really do promote courage. Being able to suggest changes and implement them is really important to me, so knowing they “don’t admonish failure, only failure to learn,” is key.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Terex that you think they should?
Terex has a mentoring program that provides the structure for people to sign up and guides for meetings. The program is self-driven, so the success (or not) for individuals is in their own hands. People who truly want to invest in their career growth have this option.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
I’ve had a few great bosses, and all of them had one key quality; they pushed me hard to grow. Whenever I felt “too” comfortable, I could almost guarantee they would come up with some way to expand my comfort zone by giving me a stretch assignment or challenging my views. While this wasn’t always fun, it made me who I am today.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Networks are one of the most important tools you can have. With strong networks, you can call on the expertise of others, may be able to find a shortcut through bureaucracy, and you could become visible for new opportunities. Take the time to develop relationships in other departments, helping others with their needs. Not only does it feel good to help others, but it builds the network you need.
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