When Jill Becker engages business leaders to discuss talent development and advancement opportunities at Volaris, she’s speaking from experience. Proactive managers turned what she expected to be a temporary job with Wynne Systems into a career that has spanned multiple roles over the course of 20 years.
Even when she wasn’t ready to make a change, Becker said her company's leaders were focused on delivering the guidance and training she needed to be fully prepared for the next step of her career. “Mentorship is critically important for anybody who's in a management role,” Becker said. “Everyone on our management team is always on the lookout for people they identify as being a potential successor, because that’s how you grow a business that lasts.”
Becker sat down with Acquired Knowledge to discuss how her unique career path led her from marketing products to marketing Volaris Group’s culture and prepared her for conversations with business owners looking for a safe, permanent home for their company and employees.
Before you started working at Wynne, were you looking for a career in the software industry?
When my career started, I did not expect to be at a software company. If I'm being totally honest, I was going to school for graphic design and needed a job, so I started as an admin assistant with Wynne Systems. I was there for about two years and then I left to continue my college career and to try something else.
Eventually, I came back as a customer service rep, and I did that for several years until an opening came up in the marketing department. Because I was doing graphic design, I thought, “This is a perfect opportunity for me to showcase my skills and talent.” And then I really grew to love marketing.
One of the things that made my success on the marketing team possible was the management team that believed in me and offered me a lot of support, even if I wasn't confident in my own skills. They knew that I had hidden talent, and they nurtured my career from Marketing Coordinator to Marketing Manager, then to Director of Marketing at Wynne.
On the topic of gaining confidence, at one point you actually turned down a promotion that was offered to you. What role you were in at the time and what did you learn from the mentor that accepted the more senior position?
When I was in the Marketing Manager role, I was the only person in marketing at Wynne Systems and they wanted to promote me to Director of Marketing. We had been acquired by Volaris and at this point we were two years in. I had seen what the other marketing directors at other companies were doing. So I gave it a lot of thought, and I didn't feel that I was prepared to meet those standards that I thought would be expected of a Marketing Director.
So I declined the position and they hired another Marketing Director. Thankfully because of the environment of mentorship that Volaris nurtures, she very much took me under her wing, taught me everything she knew to get me ready to either be promoted or move to a different business unit to become a Marketing Director there.
I spent about two years just learning and soaking in everything that she could teach me, and eventually, she ended up retiring. At that point, I was ready to step up into the Marketing Director role. And I think that was the best choice I could have made, even though it seems like most people would jump at a chance to be promoted.
A lot of people would be nervous to turn down a promotion, but you’re not the kind of person who just says ‘yes’ to anything that comes by. What opportunities does a new role have to present to draw your interest?
Whether it's through a promotion or if you're coming in from the outside into a Volaris business, a new role has to offer challenges and be aligned with your own personal career goals, your own initiatives, and what you want to do and see yourself become.
I think one of the things that makes Volaris businesses so attractive to work for is they foster this environment where people come first. The focus is on making sure that we’ve aligned what they're good at and what they're interested in with their role at the company, as opposed to shoehorning someone into a position that may not be well suited for them.
For me, when I decided to accept the Director of Marketing position, it was because it allowed me to become more strategic. Whereas before I was doing a lot of execution, but I wasn't thinking, “What does this mean to the business? How does this outcome align with the business goals?”
You were with Wynne for 10 years before the company was acquired by Volaris. Did the acquisition change how you approached your role within the company and how the company approached talent development?
When we were acquired by Volaris, I had some fear that things were going to change. The reason why I stayed with Wynne for 10 years up to that point was because I appreciated my coworkers. It was a healthy and encouraging environment, and my fear was that was going to change when Volaris came in and if it did change after we were acquired, then I genuinely don't think I'd be there any longer.
What’s most important to a company is the culture. That's what makes people feel they belong, that they are a part of something. And so if that changes at all or is disrupted, that can create chaos. But that environment never changed, and even to this day at Wynne, the culture was always our own.
One big difference of joining Volaris over other acquirers is gaining access to larger training events like Volaris 101 and Quadrants. What was your first exposure to the larger Volaris ecosystem like?
I attended my first Quadrants about four years after we were acquired, and I was absolutely flabbergasted at the size of it and how many marketers there were across the company. It's hard to explain when you're talking about a bunch of strangers, but meeting them all, I just instantly felt a sense of home.
I’m finding out we all share the same passion about working on B2B marketing at our own niche software companies, seeing these people who are facing the same challenges I’m facing. And some things that they've overcome, they approached differently than I would.
I walked away from that first Quadrants with a real mix of emotions. One being that I should be doing so much more, but on the other hand, being really excited about discovering that there was so much more I could be doing.
When I got home, I spent about two months just reprogramming what I wanted to do and try because of what other people have shared. Quadrants is one of the best events that you can attend if you're looking for ideas and you’re looking to understand how other people are overcoming the same challenges you may have.
You took a brief career break in 2022 before coming back to Volaris in a new role. What led you to leave the Director of Marketing position at Wynne and take on a new challenge with a different Volaris portfolio?
In 2022, I had been Director of Marketing for about four years, and there were two big initiatives I had been working on for many years. Once I managed to see them to the finish line, I felt that it was time for someone else to take the helm and see what direction that could take the company’s marketing,
I had been with Wynne for over 20 years, and I felt that I had taken it as far as I could. Volaris places great importance on developing successors, so I had been training the right person to hand things off to so that I would leave things in good hands.
Initially, the plan was to work on some personal passion projects I had, and maybe start my own business. But six months later, I got a call from one of the portfolio leaders and he asked me if I’d be interested in doing M&A marketing as opposed to B2B marketing.
I wasn’t sure about it at first, so I called him back to ask more about the role a week later, and I thought, “This is a different set of challenges. This is a very different market I'm targeting. I could start a program from the ground up and see it to fruition. This is really interesting.” So that kind of entrepreneurial spirit I had showed itself, and I decided to take on this new role.
Six months to the day I left, I was back at Volaris — and within a week I was at Quadrants again with all my favourite marketers, but now with a different role and new things to learn. It was like coming home.
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