Brenda Wylie-Kay, Vice President with Precisely Supports Hiring Televerde Foundation Justice Involved Women

Can you briefly describe a little bit about Precisely and your role in the organization?

Of course! Precisely is the global leader in data integrity. Our combination of software, data, and strategic services enables clients to make more confident business decisions based upon data that is accurate, consistent, and contextualized. As companies seek to become even more data-driven, particularly with the explosion in advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), being able to trust the data that is fueling strategic decision-making becomes even more important. As the Senior Vice President of Business Development and Inside Sales, my team are essentially the first point of contact for the business, helping to educate and empower clients to take the steps needed to build trust in their company’s data.

How did you personally first hear about Televerde?

I worked for IBM for over 25 years and became familiar with the heritage of Televerde through the cofounder, Jim Hooker (who also previously worked for IBM), and I was so impressed by his business model and vision. When I later joined Pitney Bowes Software & Data, I found out that the Chief Marketing Officer worked with Televerde as a partner. I was able to see the program firsthand, travelling to the Televerde headquarters in Phoenix, as well as visiting the prison in Perryville

What motivated your company to hire Televerde graduates?

My division within Pitney Bowes was sold to Precisely (formerly known as Syncsort) and I was asked by the CEO, Josh Rogers, to build out a business development organization that was designed for growth. As I started to put my three-year plan together, I realized that staffing was going to be a huge part of the process and I needed just the right combination of skill set and diversity to be successful. Often business development organizations can experience challenges with high turnover, but it does not need to be that way if you can hire the right mix of people and are committed to developing a culture of high performance. I discovered that the Precisely team had (and still has) an active commitment to the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging of their staff and it made me think of Televerde. When I approached Josh for buy-in, I said, “let’s hire the graduates directly and give them a second chance that could help change their lives.” Josh never hesitated before giving the greenlight.  I did highlight to Josh that they would need to compete for the roles just like anyone else, but that those who made the cut would be hired, trained, and become full members of “Team Precisely.”

Were there any challenges you faced hiring our grads?

The first challenge I faced was the background checks completed on new candidates applying for jobs. Luckily, the Precisely team was incredibly supportive, and I collaborated very closely with our Chief Human Resources Officer, Lisa Crawford, and her team to resolve this issue and help give the graduates a second chance. Despite this we still faced the challenge of graduates being too afraid to apply for a role in case something got flagged. Others were also concerned about whether they could really compete, be given a fair shot, or truly be hired.  Several graduates never applied, some did apply but did not make the cut, and then suddenly we had our first hire and the initiative really gained momentum! The first woman to be hired started to spread the word to others in her network and over time the team of Televerde graduates grew. It has made me so proud to watch them develop and become valuable members of our business development team.

What are some of the key benefits you experienced from hiring our graduates?

Firstly, we saw results because the Televerde graduates came in well-trained, process-driven, and with a strong motivation to succeed. It is no surprise that they have routinely been among the highest performing members of our sales organization. We have also been able to enhance these skills and provide opportunities for professional development, which has resulted in an excellent pipeline of leaders for the business.

Secondly, the program actively supports Precisely’s commitment to diverse hiring and our core values of Openness, Individuality, Collaboration and Determination. I am so proud to work for a company that is supportive of providing a second chance to people that may have made a wrong decision but have now paid their debt to society. They don’t just say they are an inclusive company – their actions truly demonstrate it.

Thirdly, there is the real-world impact of the Televerde and Televerde Foundation programs that support justice involved women. It has been a deeply humbling experience to see graduates have children returned to them, be able to buy homes and cars, rent condos/apartments, and obtain credit cards in their name. This initiative reunites families, gives back futures, and allows graduates to re-build their confidence and sense of self. I am a mother to two children, and “Nana” to five grandchildren, and I have always taught them to give back to the community, try to make a difference wherever they can, and to always be thankful, because in a blink of an eye everything can change. Through my work with Televerde and the Televerde Foundation I hope I can lead by example and stay accountable to my grandsons (who are always more than happy to let me know if I’m not practicing what I preach to them!).

Can you share any specific success stories of our graduates?

I avoid sharing too much about my graduates because I have a duty to protect them and, really, it is their story to tell, not mine. However, I will share that two of the three most productive business development representatives in my team last year were from the Televerde program.

On top of this, many have been promoted – both inside and outside of my organization – and some have even received awards and recognition for their outstanding performance and results.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for how Televerde can further enhance partnerships and/or prepare our graduates?

I am going to fall back onto the basics which Jim Hooker understood very well – all focused around training.  It is so important to train the team on current business development skills.  The ability to do research using the various tools that are out there, such as ZoomInfo, Bombora, and Sales Navigator, is critical.  This includes knowing how to leverage AI tools like Bard and ChatGPT, particularly as they become more commonplace in the work environment, as well as sales engagement tools like Outreach or Salesloft.

It’s also important to build on communication skills such as writing, using social media, and of course – making sales calls and conducting meetings with clients and prospects.  Finally, preparation around the interviewing process can be critical, as it’s ultimately what helps to open the door to new opportunities. The Televerde Foundation team does a great job supporting graduates through the interview process – including running practice sessions, helping them to write effective resumes, and training them to ask the right questions and follow up correctly with hiring managers by sending a thank you note.

Today I’m proud to be a Board Member for the Televerde Foundation and share my sales experience, passion for service, and real life hiring and engagement experience with justice involved women. I believe in serving the community and supporting their mission.