In our regular series, people with important jobs remember where it all started
Hi Nancy! Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Nancy Hensley. I’m chief product and marketing officer at Stats Perform, a sports analytics company based out of London.
What was you first McJob?
I started as a dressing room attendant in a department store called Wieboldt’s in a mall in Lombard, Illinois. I quickly realised I didn’t want to be stuck in a fitting room all day, so within a few months, I worked my way up to candy girl at the candy counter.
What did you have to do?
I stood in the middle of the counter, surrounded by glass cases of every type of candy you could imagine, and had to scoop up, serve and cash out the candy.
How long did you work there?
Only about a year, as I figured I was destined for better things than candy girl!
What did you spend your first paycheque on?
It was my junior year of high school, and I was saving to go on a spring break trip. My parents never thought in a million years I would save the money. So I saved it all, and went on a spring break to Padre Island in Texas.
Did anything particularly funny happen?
The maintenance guy was working his way through college. I was 16 and he was 18 or 19. Everybody had a number, so if I had something break or some kid dropped all their candy, I would page 32 Joe. Years later, when I was working for IBM, I walked into a meeting and 32 Joe was standing right in front of me as a new client!
What skills did you learn that you might still use today?
Patience. Evidently choosing candy is a very difficult decision, especially if somebody had multiple kids. The value of networking, because had I been mean to 32 Joe, he wouldn’t have ended up as a client years later. And the value of really good customer service. I had a lot of clients who would come back because they enjoyed a short conversation while they were shopping.
Why is alumni important?
I’m on the product and marketing side. If you create products people love, people will keep coming back. That sustainable revenue means you have the funding to go back to clients and have really honest conversations about the products they like, to work out what products you might launch next.
What would happen if you went back and did your old job today?
Wieboldt’s isn’t there any more! It’s now a very elegant department store called Von Maur, with a gentleman in a tux who plays the piano where the candy counter used to stand. But I think I would be good! I think I would appreciate simplicity and low stress of the job, but I might worry about my weight!
If you could go back to in time, what advice would you give yourself?
Every job or opportunity leads on to something. I knew I didn’t want to be in the crappy fitting room job, so I got myself to the main floor of the candy store, which was the place to be! So be patient because every opportunity’s going lead you to your next.