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Billtrust Business Advice – Michael Wolset

One of the fundamental parts of every business is the Talent Acquisition and Training team. The need to find the best candidates, get them acclimated to their new company, and help them grow in their career is critical to long term success. No one understands this more than Billtrust’s Director of Talent, Michael Wolset. Michael has been at Billtrust for over six years and has grown from a Training Manager to a Director of Talent. His experience goes beyond training and can help many parts of every business.

What is the best piece advice that someone has ever given you and why?

“If every new thing you try works, you aren’t trying enough new things.” I was pitching a new idea to our CEO, and he was skeptical. The meeting wasn’t going as great as I had hoped. He stopped me in the middle of the meeting and said “I don’t think this is going to work…but go for it.” He explained that if everything I tried worked, then I need to try more new things. That was empowering. I went from being afraid to fail, to an innovative mindset. I felt ok to try what seemed like crazy ideas. That is a good thing because that is innovation at its basic roots. I try to pass this idea on to everyone on my team.

Who is someone that you have looked up to during your career?

I had a professor in college, Dr. Callanan, that helped steer me in the direction of my career, although he probably doesn’t even know it to this day. There wasn’t a Human Resources major at my college so I went for general Business. I had a class on Organizational Theory & Development and Dr. Callanan made the class so interesting that it sparked my interest to focus my career around all things “people”. Dr. Callanan spent years at the Federal Reserve and after he was done in the corporate world went on to teaching. He had a lucrative career, and helped me understand you can be successful while still making work enjoyable for yourself and your team.

When you first started out in your career, what were some of the challenges you thought you’d face and why?

Public speaking. I was scared to death to talk in front of groups of people early on. I took a public speaking course in college and it was one of the best things I could have done. It helped me realize that public speaking is truly a skill, and not something that comes naturally for all people. I knew taking a career in training meant I would have to speak in front of groups of people. I still have a ton of room to improve, but it is now more inside of my comfort zone.

What are three things that you hope to accomplish before your career is over?

  1. To have someone think of me when they are asked “who in their career helped them get to where they are today.”
  2. Have a seat at the C Level table – HR/Talent can be often looked at as a necessary resource rather than a strategic partner. When C level execs are asking for my thoughts around people operations I will consider that a success
  3. Be an investor for a tech company in an early stage seed round – Just the idea seems exciting.

How has training and personal development evolved during your career?

Accessibility and The Search Bar – early on training meant time out of the office, in a classroom. This generated a large expense if you were using an outside vendor making the training process more costly. Now “training” is everywhere. Everyone has access to the greatest free Learning Management Systems out there – Google and your Social Networks! If you want to learn a new skill, start with the Google or LinkedIn search and you will find endless resources and people in your network who have insight into your challenges.

What would you tell yourself 10 years in the past based on experiences you now have?

Have a “personal board of directors” – I heard this idea from a current coworker and wish I thought of this early on in my career. Your network is powerful, and it’s important to have a variety of people that you can reach out to for advice and feedback.

What advice or motivation would you give yourself for 10 years in the future?

Keep having fun and doing what you love. It’s so important to love your job and the company where you work. I never want to lose sight of this.

A special thank you to Michael for taking a few minutes to help share some insights. You can follow Michael on LinkedIn or Twitter here.

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