Excelling through education, networking and building a professional brand
To gain a better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have turned challenges into opportunities and ensured continued growth, The Representor interviewed Christian Alviso, field sales engineer for Luscombe Engineering of San Francisco.
Alviso shared how continuing education, expanding his professional network and promoting his professional brand have helped him excel in the current business environment and the ever-evolving role of field sales.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
As a San Francisco Bay Area native, I’ve been fortunate to live my 31 years of life in arguably one of the hottest locations for electronics innovation.
Despite having Silicon Valley right at my doorstep, I never would have guessed that my path would lead me to where I am today — working in a sales role as a manufacturers’ representative.
The prelude to my career in electronics began at San José State University where I studied electrical engineering. During my tenure, I had the opportunity to become a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity as well as the privilege to be elected and serve as the president of the SJSU Student Branch Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. These were two experiences that were paramount to shaping me into the man I am today, both personally and professionally.
Currently still a Bay Area resident; now with my wife of five years, my two-and-a-half-year-old son, my nine-month-old daughter, as well as our five-year-old terrier-mix.
How long have you worked in the electronics industry?
I have worked in the electronics industry for approximately seven years with the last four of those as a manufacturers’ rep.
What made you choose this industry as your current career path?
Growing up, I always had an interest in computers, and one of my first jobs was in the electronics department at Target. In high school, there was a big push from the guidance counselors and career center for students to choose a career path that was in demand, so it made sense to pursue engineering considering my interests.
The electrical engineering curriculum in college was very much tailored toward the electronics industry. While completing my degree, I did take the opportunity to experience different industries with internships in construction and telecom, but ultimately decided on a career in electronics.
I eventually found my way into distribution as a field applications engineer, and I really fell in love with the customer interfacing aspect of the role. This inspired me to move to a sales-oriented role within the manufacturers’ rep industry.
What are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?
The main challenge I have faced in my current role has been overcoming sales-based demands when most of my prior education and training have been mostly technical.
What steps have you taken to overcome these challenges and ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?
Learning everything I can from everyone I can. I am very fortunate that many of the individuals I work with on my team as well as for the manufacturers we represent are seasoned professionals with a plethora of experience and knowledge.
What were some training tools or networking/industry events that you found beneficial to your professional growth?
This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Spark Professional Development Program co-sponsored by ECIA and ERA. Although normally held at the EDS Leadership Summit, my cohorts and I were able to attend virtually this year.
Additionally, I am constantly looking to expand my professional network as well as promote my professional brand. With so much happening remotely during the pandemic, LinkedIn has been crucial in that regard.
What could make this field more attractive to young professionals?
I think new talent is always welcome in any industry and anything that brings in younger and newer faces is a benefit to the industry as a whole.
I think one of the largest hurdles at present in making this field more attractive to future young professionals is that the industry is relatively unknown. I think the phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know,” holds true in this scenario, and I think if we want to attract new talent to the industry then one of the first steps is educating prospects that it even exists.
Where do you see your profession and the industry 10 to 20 years from now?
We have seen a major paradigm shift for many of the roles within the electronics industry due to the pandemic. With remote and virtual meetings making up a large portion, it’s hard to know if “field sales” will ever return to the way it once was. In the immediate future, I see most roles becoming a hybrid of outside and inside sales with individuals covering a larger geographical area than previously able. In 10 to 20 years I could see even more hybridization occurring where individuals that are able to support customers both as inside, outside, applications, and product are what is required in each territory.
Professionally, what keeps you up at night?
There is unpredictability in every industry, but sometimes it feels like so many outcomes in this profession are decided by external factors. It’s unnerving to know that sometimes you can do everything right and you might still not get the business due to things outside of your control. This last year was a perfect example of this and a very real reminder.