WORKSPAN
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Life at Work: A Series of Projects and Good Outcomes

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Donya Rose, CSCP
Managing Principal, The Cygnal Group 

Donya Rose is managing principal of The Cygnal Group, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has more than 25 years of experience in leading the design and implementation of systems and processes to ensure alignment of sales results with top business priorities. Rose holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Davidson College, and a master’s degree in operations research and systems analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Today, Rose focuses exclusively on sales compensation plan design.

What is the No. 1 career assist you received?
When I was a business planner at Raychem in the late ’90s, Tim Burch, VP of human resources, asked me to lead a project to build a global sales compensation framework and plans for the company. At that time, Raychem was at about $2 billion in revenue with offices in more than 60 countries and had never had a compensation plan for their highly regarded sales team. The lead consultant assigned happened to be Stock Colt, then-leader of the sales effectiveness and rewards practice at Towers Perrin. It was in the project and under the influence of Stock that I found my passion for a field I didn’t know existed.

At the end of our work together, with sales compensation plans ready to go, it was announced that Raychem was being acquired by Tyco. Within a few weeks I had reached out to Stock and asked him about the possibility of joining the practice at Towers Perrin, and within a few more weeks I had a new employer, new colleagues I still enjoy regularly and a career trajectory that continues to this day.

What key career advice would you give to others?
Be reliable. Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you make a commitment, keep it; and if you find you can’t keep your commitment, then provide early updates and an alternative plan. Be diligent, but not too diligent. Stay focused on the most important things. Do the hardest things at the time of day when you have the most energy and resilience (that’s mornings for me). Be as disciplined about finding balance and prioritizing your mental and physical health as you are about meeting work commitments. Be generous. Search for the good intentions and helpful contributions of those around you and bring attention to them. Offer your insights, experience, tools and techniques freely.

What are two out-of-the-ordinary skills every rewards professional needs?
1. Understanding of the basics of managerial accounting. Money is the lifeblood of business, supplying the potential for growth or de-emphasizing certain functions, business units or markets. To align the rewards function’s efforts with the top business priorities, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how resources are directed, what criteria leaders are using when they set budgets and establish targets and what outcomes define success or failure from a financial perspective.
2. Project management. Life at work is a series of projects. Doing the tasks well is essential for good outcomes. But equally essential is planning the work, identifying the steps, involving the right resources, managing the schedule, adjusting as needed and managing expectations of the team members and business leaders.

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