Young Silicon Valley rep relies on support, mentorship and building connections to thrive
Distribution Sales & Marketing Manager
To gain better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have survived and thrived, The Representor interviewed Erin Fox, distribution sales and marketing manager, at TAARCOM.
Fox shared how she believes resilience, adaptability and gratitude have helped her overcome challenges of being new in the rep business.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself, personally and professionally.
I am a 2019 graduate of Santa Clara University, where I studied marketing and journalism. On campus, I was the managing editor of the newspaper and a four-year member of the university orchestra. I’m originally from New Jersey, but now live in San Francisco and spend my free time playing soccer, doing pub trivia, and attending concerts and musical theatre productions. I am the distribution sales and marketing manager at TAARCOM, a manufacturer’s representative firm based in Santa Clara. We cover the Northern California and Northern Nevada territory. It is my second year serving as the secretary of the Northern California ERA chapter.
How long have you worked in the electronics industry?
I started working full-time for TAARCOM’s inside sales team in 2020. I took on my current distribution-facing role in 2021.
What made you choose this industry as your current career path?
I had the great fortune of joining TAARCOM due to a personal connection, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else! I was familiar with the electronics industry, as I attended college in the heart of Silicon Valley and was aware of the high-tech innovation around me. The companies we count as neighbors are among the top employers of SCU graduates—big names like Google and Apple, and startups too.
What are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?
I joined the industry in Q3 of 2020, so it was a challenging time for many professionals. However, their “new normal” was just my “normal.” TAARCOM had a hybrid work model, so I did not feel isolated from my colleagues but yearned to meet others my age. A challenge I still have is digging into the more technical side of things. However, my colleagues are patient and willing to help me learn.
What are some steps that you have taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?
I believe resilience, adaptability and gratitude are essential to overcome a challenge. Because in-person networking was limited in my first few months, I built many relationships virtually. I connected with others on LinkedIn and asked for informational interviews. I then gained insights from experienced professionals about what it takes to succeed and mistakes they made—and even got feedback on my career trajectory. The Northern California territory took longer to reopen after the pandemic than other parts of the country, and I was so excited when I could start meeting people face-toface. I must acknowledge the support and mentorship from local industry women— shout out to the Distribution Dollies!
What are training tools or networking/ industry events you find beneficial to your professional growth?
I have participated in programs like Spark 1.0, 2022 ERA Virtual Sales Training and the ERA NEXGEN group. I found in-person events like the 2022 EDS Summit and 2023ERA Conference engaging and beneficial. However, the real growth lies in learning from my peers. Over the past few years, I have amassed a friend group of 50+ early career industry professionals in Northern California. We work for local reps, distributors, suppliers and contract manufacturers. I organized a happy hour for us in the fall of 2022 and hope to do another in the spring of 2023. I also have quarterly calls with other female reps across the country. We exchange ideas and introduce each other to influential people within the industry.
Do you think there is enough new talent entering the electronics industry and what could make this field more attractive to future young professionals?
The industry is continuously evolving and demands a constant influx of new talent. In Northern California, I think there is a perception that the industry is not as glamorous as other fields, such as software development or finance. Attracting and retaining new talent is an endeavor that reps, distributors and suppliers must prioritize. I am concerned the lack of diversity could be discouraging to young professionals. The underrepresentation of certain groups can make it more challenging for those communities to envision themselves succeeding in the industry. To address these issues, we must build a more diverse and inclusive workforce to help ensure a more vibrant and dynamic future for the industry. Some other ways companies can attract young talent is by investing in training and development programs, embracing emerging trends and technologies (Canva, Grammarly, ZoomInfo, ChatGPT), and being flexible with remote work. We must highlight the exciting and impactful work done in the industry and better showcase the potential for innovation and societal benefits.
Where do you see your profession and the industry 10 to 20 years from now?
Ultimately, I believe that the future of the electronics industry is full of potential, and manufacturers’ reps that are able to stay agile and innovative will continue to play an important role for many years to come.
Professionally, what keeps you up at night?
Sometimes I have a hard time turning off my brain at night because I’m so excited about what’s next. But to me, that’s a good thing—it means I’m passionate about my work and thinking about how I can do better, learn more and make a bigger impact.