Earn Your Cheese

Earn Your CheeseI believe that it’s never a good idea to go after “free cheese in the mousetrap.” If you expect to be rewarded without working for it, you won’t go anywhere in life— you’ll be “trapped.” When I was going to institute in Moscow, Russia, I worked hard to earn my M.S. in chemistry. I moved to the United States for the opportunities available and, at the age of 32, was hired as a chemist at Wright Brothers (Cincinnati, OH). I’ve been with the company for 12 years now, and I’ve always applied the same principle—I’ve worked hard to earn my cheese.

Two-and-a-half years after I started, the company had an open sales position for a specialty gases and equipment specialist. I was interested in applying my knowledge of gases to sales, so I began working part-time as a chemist and part-time as specialty gases and equipment specialist. I did so well in the new position that after six months, I started doing it full time, and I’ve been working in sales ever since.

Roza VilnerYou may think it odd that a chemist could do so well in sales. My chemistry background gives me a special edge because I know the products I sell inside and out. That knowledge is very helpful when I’m trying to solve a problem for a customer. For example, common problems a customer might have with Gas Chromatography include: no peaks, noise, baseline drift or split peaks. By knowing the basics of Chromatography, it’s easier to identify the possible cause and provide a solution.

In a typical week, I spend two partial days at the office. The rest of the time, I’m either calling customers from my home office or visiting their sites. In addition to helping existing customers, I also look for new customers. I make cold calls and network at events, but existing customers can also be a great way to find new business—sometimes, they know someone else who needs the products I sell.

Every day brings a new challenge, and they’re challenges that I love. While I can’t predict what issues I may face in my day-to-day work, I do know that I can overcome any obstacle that crosses my path and earn that cheese.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Roza Vilner Meet the Author
Roza Vilner, specialty equipment and gases specialist for Wright Brothers (Cincinnati, OH), moved to the United States 12 years ago. Now that she has learned to speak English, Vilner spends most of her time listening. “I let my customers do the talking so they can educate me about any problem they’re having.”