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My Path to Success at Smith


JK Speech
By Jennifer Kabbara, Trader Development Manager

As Smith’s Trader Development Manager, I have been with Smith and helped the company evolve and grow for a quarter of a century. In this blog post, I talk about my roots at Smith and the steps that led to what I am doing for Smith today.

Being a part of Smith has been one of the most significant defining factors in my life, and I’ve dedicated myself to shaping this company in turn. My journey here started 25 years ago, when I had just graduated from Texas A&M with a journalism degree. I was trying to figure out the next steps on my path, which meant I was in the middle of about five interviews when I saw Smith’s listing.

Smith was accepting all majors, which was unusual; most companies were looking for engineering, math, or life sciences – not liberal arts or journalism. I was excited to see “all majors,” and I made sure that Smith was my next interview.

That interview was the first time I encountered Smith’s openness to giving people from all disciplines an opportunity to prove their worth – definitely not the last.

I earned a position on Smith’s team, which was 50 or 60 people at that time. With my journalism and computer tech background, everything business was unfamiliar to me. I worked to learn as fast as I could to get up to speed.

At my first post, I was assigned to work with and learn from an experienced salesperson who was a wealth of information and a motivating factor in my day. Moving from a tiny room with a couple of traders to a larger team and then to the main trading floor, where I was finally in OEM sales, the people and environment around me shaped my days, months, and years to come. With the whole company in one space, I was just steps away from every department, so I could follow the progression of my orders from requirement to invoice and on to the truck, learning every step of the process. This is how I started building expertise.

I spent several years in various sales roles, including memory and OEM sales. After this time with Smith, I saw opportunities for growth in our trader training program, and I took on the task of revitalizing and overseeing this initiative. This was a challenge, but it was also exciting to figure out the best ways to help our salespeople and purchasing staff around the world refine and build their skills and discover their full potential.

My next step was taking on a headquarters-based position managing our trade floor, and – after that – roles as Director of Trading Operations and Trader Development Manager, the role I hold today. In the midst of these positions, I spent four years in Dubai, handling some business in near time zones while flipping my schedule to be awake while the U.S. was. My kids were small, and I lived in a state of permanent jet lag, working from 8 PM to 5 AM each day. These years were invaluable, offering me chances to keep gaining knowledge and awareness of cultures and customs around the world. I was nonetheless excited when I prepared to return to headquarters in Houston so that I could resume supporting and guiding our managers and traders there and at our other global offices.

It drives my efforts every day to know that the decisions I make help and improve Smith and that I can make a sizeable impact. I search out what’s not yet being done or not yet being done as well as we can. Then I see if I can improve it.

My greatest advice to a new person – at Smith or in any role in general – is to show up and pay attention to what is working for others. Seek out who’s doing well, learn from them, and use their help to keep growing and always achieving. I value how Smith has provided me and others an environment to learn from, influence, and collaborate with talented colleagues over the last 25 years.

Smith’s vision and diversity keep me here; we invest in the best people around the world and always push for innovation and better results. I am inspired to know that we are always reaching for the new while maintaining focus on what we are truly good at. As we grow, we will just demand more of ourselves. The more we expand and take on, the more opportunities there will be for growing other people’s careers.

I look forward to the continued opportunity to learn and lead, making Smith’s trading team the best it can be.

Check out more of Smith’s success stories on our LinkedIn Life page.


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