How Taking On New Challenges Helped This Employee

Sponsored by Fisher Investments

Kristina Chen, She/Her, Account Executive Team Leader. Photo courtesy of Fisher Investments.

Kristina Chen, She/Her, Account Executive Team Leader. Photo courtesy of Fisher Investments.

Fisher Investments
Fisher Investments
April 20, 2024 at 8:3AM UTC

Kristina Chen changed her career focus from service to sales while growing strong leadership skills. How did she successfully make this transition? She embraced Fisher Investments’ collaborative work environment, and demonstrated confidence while taking chances and facing challenges. She also sought out various mentors and now uses her leadership role to share her experiences with other women and professionals.

Tell us more about your career at Fisher Investments and your role as an Account Executive Team Leader. 

I started working at Fisher Investments’ Camas, Washington office as a Regional Sales Associate in July 2014 after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Business Administration and Management. I was in that role for more than two years before becoming a Senior Regional Sales Associate and then a Training Program Manager for others in that role. In 2019, I moved to Fisher’s Plano, Texas location and had the opportunity to help pioneer that office’s Regional Sales Associate group.     

I am currently working as an Account Executive Team Leader and have been in this role since March 2020. I manage a team of 10 salespeople who are on the frontline helping us share Fisher Investments’ investment philosophy and services with prospective new clients.

My job requires managing complex situations, reviewing prospective client meetings, and working on process improvement projects. I’m also involved with recruiting and coaching employees, while holding them accountable to achieve their goals.

While building your team, what did you learn that surprised you the most? 

What surprised me the most was the high amount of collaboration that took place within the team given that the Account Executive role is an independent contributor role. Every Account Executive team has a wide variety of tenure and talent. But it’s a common theme to have proactive mentors who take time out of their busy days to help their mentees and new hires on the team ramp up. Although sales is a competitive environment, it’s clear the Account Executives care about each other and support each other’s personal and professional development. 

How have you used your role to mentor young professionals? How do you build time for this?

Moving from Training Program Manager to Account Executive Team Leader was a unique transition since I had not been an Account Executive before and had not managed direct reports. However, I felt confident in my abilities to coach and mentor as a Team Leader, since I had gained that experience in my previous group. 

Since moving from the service and operational side of the firm to the sales side, I’ve spoken with several young professionals, especially women, about my experience and what the transition looked like.  I was nervous to jump into a Team Leader role in a department that I was not familiar with, but I knew I was ready to take on the new challenge and further progress my career. I love mentoring and speaking with individuals about their career aspirations, so I always make myself available to have conversations with whoever is interested in learning more about the sales side or the Account Executive role. I also am very passionate about campus recruiting and participate as much as I can to encourage women to apply for the role or other positions within Fisher Investments. 

What advice do you have for other women who want to move into leadership? 

Be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Go for that next promotion or opportunity to learn something new, regardless of whether you think you’re qualified or not, or think you don’t have all of the skills needed for the role. Lean on your peers and mentors to help you. It’s important to network and build a strong relationship with management. A quote from The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay reads, “When you choose to act, you’re able to succeed more frequently than you think. Lean in and act instead of holding back.”  

As a leader, how do you create a culture of community and respect?

I encourage open communication, collaboration, and teamwork. I am welcoming and approachable, so people feel comfortable asking me or other people on the team questions. It’s important to create a positive and supportive environment, especially in a fast-paced and competitive role. I believe in direct communication and transparency, so there is a constant flow of feedback and learning throughout the team. We like to give shout-outs to each other and celebrate accomplishments, birthdays, work anniversaries, and milestones within the team.    

Did someone mentor you? How did they help you become ready for advancement in this field?

I’ve had several mentors within the Account Executive leadership team who helped me grow in the role and I made sure to utilize them as often as possible and communicate with them frequently. I’ve also had a lot of mentors throughout my career at Fisher Investments, and have continued to be influenced by more and more leaders around the firm. 

One of my mentors, Katie Tonkel, Associate Vice President of the Account Executive department at our Camas, Washington office, inspired me to take on the Account Executive Team Leader role and learn a new side of the firm. Katie’s leadership, tenacity, and passion in everything she does is contagious and led me to follow in her footsteps. I worked closely with her as an Account Executive Team Leader, and even as a Regional Sales Associate in our prior years, before she was promoted to Associate Vice President. She continues to be an impactful mentor to me and I highly value her as a colleague and friend.   

How do you take care of yourself to make sure you are bringing your best self to work?

I am a naturally positive and optimistic person, so I bring that energy to the team every morning. Since time is a limited resource, to get the most out of each day and stay present as a leader, I map out daily tasks in my calendar to be as efficient as possible. Outside of work, I play in a volleyball league and travel at least every other month to embrace work life balance. I like planning trips several months in advance, so I have vacations to look forward to that I’ll spend with my friends and family.   

With the knowledge you now have, what career advice would you share with your younger self?

Reach out to other women leaders and seek their support along the way. Figure out how you can stand out in a positive way from your peers. Take more chances and don’t be afraid to fail. Believe in yourself and know that success will follow. What do you have to lose? 

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