Leading A Health Revolution: Executive Profile – Elaine Smalling, Vice President of Business Development
Pictured above is Elaine (right) attending the Women of Distinction Legacy of Leaders ceremony honoring Brenda Loube (left).
As we approach a major milestone, our company’s 30th Anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the people that have led us to where we are today. By sharing their stories, their inspirations and lessons learned, we hope to inspire others to pursue their goals and aspirations, so together we can lead a health revolution that moves the world!
The A-ha Moment
Unlike most our Team Leaders, it was never Elaine’s intention to pursue a career in wellness and fitness promotion, but the subject has always been a personal interest. Initially, her career goal was focused on international business development, a field in which she worked for about 15 years. Each position Elaine held allowed her to meet people of all different industries and backgrounds. This led her from one opportunity to the next. Then, by happy accident – or perhaps we should call it fate – Elaine’s role at the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and a relationship with a group of women business owners brought her to cross paths with Corporate Fitness Works. Elaine remarks being so impressed by Sheila and Brenda’s story and the work they were doing to change lives, that when the opportunity was presented to join their team, she jumped right in! She was ready for a new challenge.
We asked Elaine to share a few things about her successful career with Corporate Fitness Works. And this is what she had to say…
Tell us about a time in your studies or in your career that helped you prepare for the challenges you face in your role as VP of Business Development.
One of the challenges that anyone faces in sales and marketing is trying to distinguish your brand from a sea of competitors, especially when you are also dealing with constant changes in technology and communication channels. What I learned from my family, from some great teachers and great mentors in my career, is that one thing that you can control, that has the greatest impact on your success in life, is your reputation and the relationships you build. It comes down to making time for those relationships, to listen with an open mind and to be honest with your word. This has proven to be true in sales and marketing throughout my career.
What is your #1 motivator? What are you most passionate about in the work that you do?
My #1 motivator is to be a good example to my two daughters in everything I do. I don’t always succeed, but I do carry that motivation to work with me every day. What I am most passionate about in the work I do is growing our business, because I know this will not only positively impact the lives that we serve, but it also creates prosperous opportunities for our team. I like to win contracts, not just to say we won, but to be empowered to really change lives.
Describe the key steps you took in the path to your career success that made the greatest impact?
When I graduated college, I decided to pursue a Master of Business Administration. The last thing I wanted to do when I graduated was to turn around and go right back to school, especially because I knew I had to balance a full-time job to pay for it. But I knew it would not get any easier if I wanted to have a family of my own down the road, it was now or maybe never. That was the best decision for my career, because not only did I graduate with a MBA, I also had work and management experience to go with the degree. It was tough, but it allowed me to apply for positions early in my career that would not have been available to me if I didn’t have both the higher degree and work experience combined.
How does your role as VP of Business Development support Team Leader growth and our business growth?
It is my responsibility to lead our Business Development Unit in continuing to build brand awareness and credibility within our industry; to help grow revenue and profitability through new business development, and to vet these new partnerships so they are a good fit for our capabilities and our team culture. For our Team Leaders to have access to resources that will empower their success and professional growth, we must continue to grow our business, our revenue and our profitability. This is what keeps me up some nights, but when we succeed it’s the best feeling in the world knowing we have created new opportunities for our CFW family.
How does your role most impact our client’s success?
Because Business Development is usually a client’s first interaction and introduction to Corporate Fitness Works, we must ensure we are representing our brand, our word as a company, and our capabilities with impeccable clarity and honesty. If we do our job well, and truly listen to their needs and deliver a viable solution based on our capabilities, we will earn their business, they will have a good relationship with our team and they will reach the goals they have for their wellness and fitness initiatives.
Share a career highlight.
One of my most memorable career highlights was when I was asked to direct a trade mission between Pinellas County and Quintana Roo, Mexico. It was by far, my greatest challenge, and most valuable learning experience. I had to manage and exceed expectations from our local and state elected officials, our participating business leaders, and those of a completely different country and culture. If that doesn’t teach you diplomacy and relationship building, I don’t know what will!
If you could share one “value added tip” as VP of Business Development, what would it be?
Never stop learning and investing in professional development. You may be the master of your subject area, but to be an influential leader and a create value for clients and your business, you must understand and meet people where they are, understand their goals and challenges, and present solutions that will work for them, and this requires constant research and study.
Please share an interesting fact that you would want our Team and our clients to know about you.
I absolutely love to travel and completely immerse myself in the local culture of the places I visit. It doesn’t have to be a well-known tourist spot, just new and different. And I will try just about any kind of food at least once. So, when I come to visit you, please be ready to be my tour guide and share a meal!
Pictured above is Elaine (second from left), with CFW teammates after leading a ‘net-walking’ event at the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair in Las Vegas, NV.