A majestic oak tree can grow 60 – 100 feet tall while providing a canopy of shade that’s 150 feet in diameter. And yet the oak tree starts with a single acorn which is unique. You see – most seeds require the right soil composition, PH balance and water to grow. But an acorn is a self-contained nursery that carries everything it needs to grow, thrive, and change the world around it.
Avenu’s new SVP of Sales & Marketing, Michael Pelfrey, taught me about the acorn but only to make a comparison with Avenu. After an intense first week at Avenu, Michael believes that Avenu has everything it needs to develop, prosper, and knock it out of the park.
Here’s a little background about Michael and some insight he shared in our recent conversation.
You are filling a very important role for Avenu and I’m sure people would like to know more about you. Can you briefly share your background?
Of course! I have over 20 years of experience in building and leading sales teams who are recognized in the industry for being trusted advisors who place a high priority on helping customers solve their problems and become well run organizations. I am personally dedicated to empowering diverse, high performing teams that innovate to build customer loyalty.
What did you study in college?
The answer starts with the ocean! I have a passion for marine life and the ecosystem that supplies so much diversity and sustainability to our planet and was a Marine Biology major at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A professor introduced me to a contact in Pharmaceutical sales after I realized working for public grants in field biology wouldn’t fund my need for the latest and greatest in technology (phones, laptops, tvs, etc.). The initial interest was in my science background but what I didn’t realize was that I would both like and thrive in sales and I’ve been in the field from that point forward.
If you love the ocean, is it safe to assume you like diving?
I love diving and am proud to say that my wife, 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter are each dive certified. One of my favorite diving places is the Hawaiian Island, Kauai, where we go as a family. I love watching my kids as they lead the way on complex dives, and I get to see their reaction to the wonders under surface.
What other activities do you like?
When I’m not on the phone or on a plane I’m with my family. I enjoy CrossFit, baseball games, a great IPA and enabling others to progress in their career.
I understand you’ve had an action packed first two weeks. How have you spent your time?
My focus has been to perform a deep strategic evaluation on where we are today and learn as much as I can about Avenu and how the organization works. Starting at a new company is always busy but starting at a company that has multiple Business Units (BUs), each with individual product lines and their own customer base is intense. I’ve been meeting with the Executive staff, Business Unit leaders, Product Client Executives, Client Success Managers, Marketing, Proposals and Sales Operations to listen and gather their experience and suggestions.
What should people know about your communication style?
I believe that honesty, openness, and transparency are not just necessary, but required.
Based on your first impression, what are Avenu’s strengths?
Avenu’s people stand out and are the company’s top asset. I’ve met a talented and dedicated group who are hungry to do more. I want to find ways to support and invest in our employees so that they can grow and in doing so make Avenu a critical provider of services that we are all proud of. I also see that we are incredibly rich and deep in subject matter expertise across many of our services and products. We need to enable our best people to impact more customer experiences and make that talent and experience more visible.
What goals do you have for Avenu?
I want to leverage our deep experience, talent, and emerging technology to help state and local governments innovate and continue to thrive for the next 15 years. I see Avenu as a catalyst for change in the customers that we serve and need everyone in Avenu to “be an acorn.” Together, we can get on a path for accelerated growth. We can do this. #wevegotthis