Now senior vice president of business development, Harry Albert joined our Raleigh office in November 1999.
1. Describe your role at TKXS.
For us, business development is primarily a sales function. My expertise is in life sciences—mostly agriculture—working with manufacturers and key players in the distribution channel to promote TKXS’ products and programs.
2. What drew you to this business?
Years ago, when Fulton Breen (now TKXS' chief people officer) and I worked together at another company, he left to take a big risk and start his own business, XSInc. About the same time, I learned that my company was relocating me to New Jersey. Although I liked my team and responsibilities, and I liked the place we were going, I just wasn’t sure about moving my family. One night, after a lot of thought and prayer and conversations with my wife, I finally said, “God, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could you just give me a sign?” The very next morning, I’m at the airport, checking in for a flight to New Jersey, when someone comes up behind me and pulls out my shirttail. It was Fulton. We end up sitting across the aisle from each other on the plane, and as we’re getting off, he says, “If you don’t want to move to New Jersey, I could use I guy like you right now.” So that was my sign. (Side note: My former boss at that company is now one of TKXS’ best customers.)
3. What career advice has had the most lasting impact on you?
First, (from my very first boss), always tell the truth—that way you won’t have to remember the lies you told. I’ve seen plenty of people twist and turn, trying to remember the lies they’ve told. I don’t want to be that guy.
Second, mind what you write. I always ask myself: Would I be embarrassed to see something I’ve written to someone or about someone on the front page of The New York Times? In other words, if someone forwarded an email from me, would I be uncomfortable or proud?
Third, do a good job for everyone, because you never know … When you’re in a sales meeting, it’s pretty easy to figure out who the decision-makers or key influencers are, and it’s easy to discount other people in the room. But one day (and I’ve seen it happen lots of times), it’s those other people who will hold your destiny in their hands. Just do a good job for everyone now, and you never have to worry about that. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
4. What do you want people to know about TKXS?
When our company was very young, a client asked whether we could tackle a certain project. Unsure, I went to one of our developers to see if we could. I’ll always remember his answer—“Pretty much, if they can imagine it, we can do it.” That’s still the case today—and it says a lot about TKXS’ culture. Even when I could be working from home, I like to come in to the office just to be with these people. A long-time TKXS partner, coming in for a visit, once said, “Harry, you need to invite more of your clients here. You have good energy and a great atmosphere here, and they need to see what I see.” In a place where the people are so good, it’s easy to be productive in your work.
5. If we had a billboard outside our offices, what would it say?
Come and see. When you see what we’re doing here, you’ll be impressed.