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Kelin Mock

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My dad owned a delivery company for 45 years and from a very young age, I can remember working with him; three years old up in the semi-trucks throwing boxes down the rollers; 12 years old helping run the warehouse and assigning the routes; 16 years old getting my driver’s license and hitting the road with my dad.

Basically, the plan was that when he retired, I would take over the family business. Then, 9/11 happened and the economy shifted downwards. Two years later, we lost the business.

I didn’t really have a back-up plan. I enrolled in college and attended for a semester. Within the first couple of weeks, I knew that it wasn’t for me. I was only enrolled in the class for two weeks. When I came home, I needed a job; so I got on the internet and found a company that was hiring. I had no idea who they were, but I applied for the job and eventually was called in to interview.

I went to the interview and discovered it was for a call center. I remember thinking, I do not want to do this. Mostly just because I’d never done anything like it before, and I had heard nothing but negative things about call centers prior to that.

But I was there, and I needed a job. So, I went through the interview and they offered me the job. I started at entry-level as an agent on February 8th, 2006. I completed eight weeks of training and I remember feeling like I was going to fail; I knew this wasn’t going to be a good job for me.

Again, I needed the job at the time so I stuck it out. I took calls for AT&T, doing technical support for all of those crazy flip phones with cameras. As I started taking calls, I remember thinking, I’m still not going to be able to do this – I need to find something else.

But within the first few months, I grew to love it. One thing I really liked about the environment was that it was very performance-driven and competitive. At the time, Foundever had a stack rank. The top person got their name on the wall; displayed on an 8 by 11 in big, bold letters. Everyone else’s name would be printed on this long, vertical list – so tiny that you could hardly see where they ranked.

So, my goal was to get on top of that stack rank, and eventually, I did. Six months into taking calls, I started seeing people do other jobs, like what we’d call a mentor or coach. I thought to myself, I should be able to do that. So, when a job like this opened up, I applied. But I didn’t get the job.

I was frustrated. All of this great work and the number one agent in the center, so why not me? I kept taking calls and maintained my top rank. When the job opened up again two months later, I applied for it. Again, I was sent back to the phones.

At this point, I remember talking to my father and telling him that despite how much I do for the company, they don’t seem to be interested in me. My father gave me some great advice that we still talk about to this day. He said it’s because I was arrogant. My dad wanted me to take the Dale Carnegie training, which is a course on leadership communication and influence. I told him time and time again I wasn’t going to do it.

But I went, and I tell this part of the story because it’s what really changed my perspective and changed my life. In the training, it struck me what I really liked about my position within Foundever. It was the people. Because the call center is so diverse, there are many stories and opinions; and I was really gaining a passion for the people around me.

Never in my life would I have thought I’d meet these people or have continuing relationships with them. With this new perspective, I kept taking calls for about a year and a half until another opportunity came along, and I applied for it.

They asked me, “Why do you want this job?” I told them I had proven I could do the job, but what I really was most passionate about was the people around me, and how the job helped me grow both personally and professionally, developing my communication and social skills.

Since then, I’ve been a mentor – my first role with the company – and then a coach after that. In September of 2010, I became an Operations Manager and had the chance to lead a site.

I moved from Albuquerque to East Texas and spent about a year and a half there. It was a great experience. I met my wife and somehow convinced her to move back to Albuquerque as I had the opportunity to lead the center where it all started for me as a Site Director.

That was a really unique experience for me because of the bonds I had, the relationships and the people – I grew up in that call center. I now had the chance to be their leader. We stayed in Albuquerque for about two years, but my wife hated it there. She’s a small town Texas girl.

So, the goal now was to be closer to her family. In July of 2013, we moved to Amarillo for a year and a half until the opportunity to transfer to Tennessee presented itself. My wife had family in Northeast Tennessee, so we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve been here for just over four years now. We had our first child and bought our first home here. While we rented everywhere else, Tennessee really was the place that felt like home.

So, I tell this story for a few different reasons. First of all, you can really grow a career in this industry. I see it happen every single day; 96% of the leaders in the site started as an associate or agent, and have been able to grow into coaching, learning specialist, operations manager, HR, anything. The second reason is the call center. I always say it’s like a university in itself. This isn’t me saying that secondary education is not important. We already have a plan for my daughter. She’s going to be on UT’s basketball team with a full ride scholarship.

The most successful leaders that we’ve had in our company have started as an associate or agent, and have continued to grow their careers from there; this includes my boss who is the Vice President of North America. And the final reason why I tell this story is that when we talk about leaders, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the best performance as an agent or an associate.

A true leader is someone who understands how to drive culture, influence people and most importantly just care about people in general. It’s very difficult to train natural leadership skills. All of the technical stuff, we will teach you; Foundever has world-class leadership development training. We call it the growth point. It’s a three-month program with three different phases where you get hands-on learning, facilitator-led training and self-paced learning. We teach you how to do the role before we put you on it.

I always say, when I got my first opportunity to be a coach, it was as if my boss loaded 15 people on a bus, threw the keys at me and said don’t wreck the bus!

So, if you’re someone who’s looking for a career, it’s right there. And when people ask me how to get promoted, I always say, that’s not the right way of looking at it. First of all, the mindset we want you to have is: how can I be a leader amongst my peers? Do what we’re asking you to do; you’re building a brand. Believe it or not, every single day you walk in there, know how much you care about the role, our customers and the passion you display – those types of things matter. Then you’ll see the opportunities will come naturally to you.

That’s my story. It’s still not finished. I’m really comfortable with where I’m at today, and I’m not necessarily sure what the next steps are for me. But I know there is a next step. I know there will be more opportunities. We’re 13 years into this and the success I’ve had has turned into a career. It’s really exciting.

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