David is a graduate from the very first Oracle Class of 2013 :
College is considered by most to be the
best years of their lives.
When one looks at college, what does s/he
recall? Alumni often reminisce about friends and fellow students as well as a
few impactful classes and organizations to which they were overly dedicated. I personally
wasn’t ready to leave college. My Fourth Year was by far my favorite and sadly that
bittersweet graduation day loomed large. Fortunately, before I left the cocoon
in Charlottesville, I received an offer from Oracle which on paper appeared to have
everything I could want from an employer. It included intensive training in a
social, team-oriented yet competitive atmosphere where there was plenty of room
for professional development. The problem was, while I worked countless
internships, I still had no clue what I really wanted to do. I simply had an expensive
piece of paper denoting college’s end.
Nevertheless, armed with a couple bags, an
almost dead phone, and a plane ticket to a side of the country I had only
viewed through the lens of Hollywood and MTV, I was off.
From the beginning, the experience was
surreal. No one could have explained or helped me to predict what the next two
months would bring. Training was outstanding and the most impactful element was
being surrounded by hundreds of fellow new-hires from diverse backgrounds. We
were united as fresh college graduates emergent from some of America’s most
prestigious undergraduate and graduate programs. Friends and colleagues ranged
from Ivy League grads and D1 athletes to Silicon Valley natives who had
received multiple offers from top IT companies and Fortune 500s alike. Regardless
of our backgrounds and majors, we were all there to grow and learn together.
I was a liberal arts major with a keen
interest in politics that, in retrospect, enrolled in way too many business
classes. Ostensibly, as in politics, sales is a pushy, cutthroat environment
where only the charlatans and least ethical prevail. Oracle taught quite the
opposite approach and, in an ongoing joke throughout the Academy, we were
encouraged not to be badgers. Quickly, it became apparent that a
customer-centric based method underlies Oracle’s sales methodology. *
We were mostly rookies and Oracle taught us
from the inception to do what is right for the customer.
In short, the Oracle Sales Academy holds
many of the same benefits of a collegiate campus and our eight week orientation
was there to ensure we had all the resources we needed to succeed. The training
was top notch and the myriad of speakers were insightful yet the foundation of
the program lied in its participants. From Day One, we were encouraged to
Always Be Connecting (ABC). In regards to this philosophy, a two month
networking binge began outside the classroom while everything from the
intricacies of Oracle’s complex internal systems to social media and personal
brand were taught within.
I still remember, after the first week,
explaining to my family and friends that I felt as if I were on The Apprentice without the terrifying
and infamous “you’re fired” line. Following the first class, we were told to
create our team, brand it, and make a commercial explaining our brand. Organized
chaos soon ensued as the teams were assigned a mentor and slapped with a three hour
deadline. For the remainder of the program, these brands became the banner
under which teams were unified. This was
evidenced by the numerous and ever more boisterous chants of “Sale Boats”,
“Larry’s Angels” and other brand names. The exercise showed how having a strong
brand can drive results and fuel a competitive yet cooperative environment.
In this environment, training took place
both inside and outside the classroom. One of the core and most memorable subjects
was The Sandler Sales Methodology. Affectionately known as just Sandler, this
approach focuses on getting to the root cause of a problem and utilizes questions
to continue a business conversation. I will always remember the first night
after we were taught the method. We were at The Hut, a local after-work
watering hole, and freshly trained, we applied Sandler techniques to multiple
situations from casual conversation to dating strategies. To this day, Sandler
methodology is still prevalent in our everyday conversations; both professional
Almost daily, anticipation in the classroom
was overwhelming. During a visit early in the program, Oracle President Mark
Hurd promised that CEO and Founder Larry Ellison would make an appearance. Mr.
Ellison didn’t visit until the seventh week and every time all the teams assembled
together, rumors that he was coming persisted. When he finally arrived, we
decided to put our newly developed rapport building skills to work asking
questions from about the company as well as “What car did you drive here today?”
The CEO was candid in his responses and fielded every question posed.
Mr. Ellison’s Departure – photo courtesy of Marina Brady
Activities beyond classes during the week
ranged from building bikes for the Boys and Girls Club and scavenger hunts to listening
to Oracle Stunt Pilot Sean D. Tucker tell the story of how he averted death
when the propeller fell off his plane. Even though activities and speakers
varied, each day was always interesting. We usually took time away from Oracle
to travel on weekends to get to know our coworkers. Notable destinations
included Santa Cruz, downtown San Francisco, Yosemite, and a memorable bus ride
(L-R ) OSA members David, Sylvia, John and Delorean at Yosemite. David with Oracle Stunt Pilot Sean
While I’ve come to the unfortunate
realization that I will never be able to relive my undergraduate experience,
the Sales Academy introduced me to lifelong friends and provided everlasting
training applicable to sales and everyday life. Even though we were divided
into teams, we all worked collaboratively yet competitively in order to mold
ourselves into a superpower that Oracle President, Mark Hurd, deemed the future
David is now based in Burlington, MA as
Technology Account Manager. Lookout for his next blog about relocating!
Note from David: Here is a great video to
show the Sales badger concept: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G401CC5Rep8).