Caroline Topolovec's Career Journey & How To Find the Right Fit
Caroline Topolovec's Career Journey & How To Find the Right Fit
An exclusive interview with Caroline Topolovec, Account Manager at Iversoft, on her career journey and her motivations to find the perfect fit for her passion and personality.
Photo by: Alex Sarna
Can you tell us the story of your career to date and how you have gotten to where you are now?
I can remember vividly when I was a little girl, knowing that I was going to be a lawyer. Because of that, I enrolled at University of Ottawa in Criminology. As time passed, it became clear that I had an interest in business, so I decided to take a minor in it.
After I graduated, I approached a mentor for advice on what to do next. I was working at the bank, feeling unstimulated and bored. The idea of spending my entire career trying to climb the corporate ladder wasn’t exactly appealing. I received advice that will stick with me forever:
She said, “This is the time to try everything. Understand your interests and follow them. Try your hand in different areas and industries, and when you become uninterested, pivot.”
I spent the early part of my 20s following that advice. I look back consistently and realize how grateful I was to receive it. Ultimately, it helped me avoid settling for something I wasn’t passionate about.
Eventually, I got the itch to try something new, so I moved to downtown Toronto. I worked for an infrastructure consulting company as a junior consultant. It gave me exposure to the world infrastructure, and project optimization as a whole. From there, I moved into a role in operations & maintenance for Brookfield. It wasn’t long until I became unstimulated again. When all you can think about is the weekend, it’s probably a red flag.
At one point, the company decided it was going to downsize, and I was let go. In hindsight it was a huge blessing in disguise, and an opportunity to continue on the journey to find my passion.
During my time living in Toronto, I was approached by a good friend to join a network marketing company. The idea of making some extra cash, meeting new people and working on sales skills was very exciting to me.
Building a business is hard regardless of what it is, but the method I was taught really didn’t feel natural. We were supposed to reach out to people via call, text, DM’s any way we could to sell product. I remember thinking that there had to be a more effective and more genuine way of establishing a clientele.
After doing some research, I came across digital marketing, and specifically inbound marketing. That is, the idea that with the right digital infrastructure, content, targeting and brand assets, leads can be brought to you, rather than having to chase them. That really resonated, and so I began looking for an opportunity to work at an agency and learn about it.
Two weeks later, I landed a job in Waterloo as an account manager for a small agency. I spent the next year on the front line, in the trenches, learning about digital marketing. I learned a about PPC, SEO, and a bunch of other topics. Ultimately, I became homesick and ended up moving back to Ottawa. I started working at another marketing agency, this time more focused on branding and website development. After about a year, I was offered a position at Iversoft as a Marketing Strategist. Our focus is more data-centric, which was appealing given the way the world is moving. I was also excited at the opportunity to be part of a rapidly growing company.
A couple months in, I realized I was starting to move away from my core skillset, and what I really liked to do. I like meeting new people and building relationships. It’s what energizes and excites me. So, I made the switch to sales and business development, and I’ve never been happier. Oh, and I just closed my first sale, which is super exciting!
What was the determining factor that made you consider your latest opportunity?
I was excited at the opportunity to work with a company that values and uses data and analytics to make marketing and technology decisions, which has a massive and measurable impact on our clients’ ability to achieve their business goals – our case studies are proof of that.
Working at Iversoft was also an opportunity to gain exposure to emerging and disruptive technologies like AI, VR, AR, mobile apps, etc. Our team is incredibly talented and innovative, which makes it easy for me to do my job. I genuinely have full confidence that at the end of the day our team is going to deliver a product or service that will move the needle for our client’s businesses. Being part of a company that you genuinely believe in is a lot of fun.
In parallel, I could see that Iversoft was and still is growing at a rapid pace, which meant being part of an epic growth story with great people.
For people who know me, they know I’m outgoing and a people person. I like helping people find solutions. I transitioned to business development because it was more in line with those traits.
I’ve learned that it’s important to leverage your personal strengths and take a long-term view on life to determine what role is going to lead to you enjoying your day-to-day work.
What advice would you give a candidate looking for new opportunities?
- Find positions where you’d be leaning into your natural strengths
- Don’t be afraid to take an entry level position in a new industry if you’re super passionate about it. Better to do it while you’re young then to stay in an industry you don’t love. Think long term.
- Be a sponge. Learn everything you possibly can about the industry/relevant topics. Read books, watch webinars, meet with people to ask questions. Being curious yields huge returns in the long run!
What tips would you give candidates preparing for an interview?
Try to meet with someone from the company for coffee. Position it as wanting to learn about what they do, and about what their company values. This takes the pressure off because you’re able to build rapport without the pressure of an interview.
When I moved to Ottawa, I made a list of the agencies I was interested in and made a trip down to do coffee meetings. It also helps in making sure that your resume isn’t buried in a pile. Helping them put a face and personality to the name goes a long way.
Always research the company. Take the time to read blogs, research key leadership team members, understand what kind of things the company works on, and what their vision is for the future. Having that kind of information in your back pocket makes it easier to ask insightful questions and add value to the conversation. It also shows effort and a willingness to “dig”, which can never hurt.
Be prepared with your “story”. You have to be able to effectively articulate your background. Who you are, what you’ve done and why you’re here. Focus on what you’ve had exposure to, how it’s shaped your perspective, and how it has helped you build a particular skill set that you think will help better the company.
Obviously being professional is important, but don’t be afraid to show your personality a bit. Being authentic and showing the “real you” will help you build trust. If the interviewer isn’t pleased with the real you, then you probably don’t want to work at that company anyway (especially if you’re thinking long term).
Make sure you can speak to everything on your resume in detail. I made that mistake once early on in my career and it will never happen again. Practice with a friend or family member so that you can walk into an interview and communicate in a very coherent way.
Remember that the interview is as much for you as it is for the company. You spend more time with colleagues than you do with your own family, so fit is everything. Write out a bunch of questions ahead of time that you’re actually curious about. Get a sense of what you’ll be accountable for. Ask to meet some of your potential team members. The clearer you are on how life will be at the company, the more effectively you can make your decision.