REP Corner: Jeté
Edition: September 2013 - Vol 21 Number 09
Author: Laura Thill
It’s been said that dancing is like dreaming with your feet. If that’s the case, Nicole Daversa is quite the dreamer. “My parents started me dancing at age two,” says the Henry Schein Medical field sales consultant. “I fell in love with it and didn’t want to do anything else.”
Indeed, by the time she was 10 years old, Daversa had joined her dance studio’s company and was performing or competing every weekend. From ballet to jazz, contemporary, hip hop and more, she was on the move. “I was very dedicated,” she recalls, noting she attended two popular performing arts schools in Florida (Dreyfoos School of Performing Arts in West Palm Beach and the New World School of the Arts in Miami), where she grew up. “We had academics in the morning and dance in the afternoons. After school, I would be at the dance studio until 9:30 p.m. every night. Then it would start over the next morning. On weekends, we usually had local performances, and we also did a lot of competing through the studio.”
Then came the summer scholarships to train at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City, where she was to assist some well known choreographers, such as Frank Hatchett. “I would go to dance conventions with [Frank] and assist him on stage,” she recalls.
Living in the Big Apple may have overwhelmed some teens, but for Daversa, this was an opportunity to reconnect with her home state, where she was born and lived her first six years. Even better, her father’s work called for him to commute between New York and Florida, so he had an apartment in the city, where she could stay. The scholarship programs were a treat, she recalls. “I could take as many classes as I wanted to,” she says. “So, I’d pack up my things and spend the whole day in the city!”
The thought of pursuing a professional dance career certainly crossed her mind, says Daversa, particularly since she made it into several prestigious college programs. However, it turns out she also had a second calling. “For most of my life, my father worked as the administrator for a few different cancer centers, and I always knew I wanted to do something related to healthcare,” she explains. She and her family spent a lot of time volunteering there, and in time, she became equally enamored with healthcare. During high school, she even took a job as a pharmaceutical technician. When she began her freshman year at St. John’s University (Queens, N.Y.) as a dance team member, her plan was to work toward a pharmacy degree as well.
As it turned out, Daversa’s pharmaceutical dream was short-lived. But, she persisted with her dance goals, and continued to consider a career in healthcare. And, not surprisingly, she stayed busy. “During college, we had practice three nights each week and performed at over 90 events each year, including men’s and women’s basketball games at Madison Square Garden, [as well as] soccer, lacrosse and football games.” she recalls. “The university also had us perform at many on-campus events, such as orientation, a breast cancer walk, convocation and Midnight Madness.” In her free time, she worked at the university media relations department. “After graduation, my boss offered to keep me on as a graduate assistant,” she says. That meant a free master’s degree – an opportunity she knew she’d be crazy to turn down.
It was also an opportunity to continue to dance with St. John’s dance team. In 2005, her team came in third place for Division 1 dance teams in the UDA College Cheerleading and Dance National Championship, she says. The following year, she completed graduate school, while continuing to work in the media relations department. She also assumed an assistant coaching position on the dance team, a way to continue with dance and to mentor others who shared her enthusiasm.
The move to Schein
Despite Daversa’s interest in a career in healthcare, her decision to join Henry Schein “was more about Henry Schein than it was about medical supply sales,” she admits. In addition to her interest in healthcare, she has always seen herself as the type of person who “likes to set goals and meet them,” she points out. “So, medical products sales sounded perfect.” That said, “because of my dad’s involvement in healthcare, we knew Henry Schein was a very well known Fortune 500 company in the industry. I applied to be a telesales rep at Henry Schein’s headquarters in Melville, N.Y., got the position and started a week after [completing] grad school.”
For 2 ½ years, Daversa learned from – and thrived on – her work as a telesales rep. “I’m very grateful to have started with Henry Schein in telesales,” she says. “In telesales, you have support from your fellow telesales reps, and [as such], get more day-to-day training, which helps with product knowledge.” That said, building a sales territory without the benefit of face-to-face connections can be challenging, she adds. Furthermore, not being able to see the physician customers’ equipment presents another hurdle. “If a physician tells you he doesn’t need new equipment, without seeing it, you don’t know if it’s actually 10 years old,” she points out.
After 2 ½ years, when Henry Schein approached Daversa about moving to Chicago to work in the field and develop a territory, she felt confident and ready. “I wanted that face-to-face interaction with the customers,” she says. Five years later, she now has experienced “the best of both worlds and [believe] I wouldn’t be as successful without my training in both [tele- and field sales].
Indeed, working in the field is almost like running your own business, she says. “I work with over 125 local customers, as well as more than 150 urgent care centers across the country, which are open late and on weekends,” she says. “You are on call 24 hours a day.” Hectic as her schedule is, though, she loves it. “In the field, you get that face-to-face contact,” she says, noting that the contact helps you become more of a consultant to the customers – particularly if you can see the state of their equipment and rely on that to make appropriate recommendations.
Always a dancer
Working 24-7 has not kept Daversa away from the dance studios. Since joining Henry Schein, she has assistant coached at St. John’s University, choreographed at Wayne Valley High School (N.J.) and, since moving to Chicago, has judged competitions. She also continues to work with a dance trainer, although she has noticed her flexibility has diminished with age!
There’s no denying, Daversa’s dance and coaching background – and the skills involved, including organizing and running a practice, choreographing a number, fundraising and simply “being a motivator for the team” – have served her well in her medical products sales career. “I have always been a motivated person, and to be successful in this job, you have to be motivated,” she says. “And, I am a big fan of teamwork, and we have a very close team at Henry Schein, here in Chicago.” In fact, with seven years of sales rep experience, she’s grown into a team leader, she says, and likens the role to being a dance tam captain for three years and a coach for four.
“I miss dance very much,” she continues, pointing out that there are opportunities to coach “some talented high schools in the Chicago area.” But, she likes to know that – whether she’s servicing physician customers or coaching dance students – she’s investing 100 percent. Any less than that, and it just wouldn’t be fair to her customers or her students. So, for now, Daversa is happy to focus on medical products sales. “My job and my customers are my top priority, and I hope to continue growing more and more every year,” she says.