Welcome to episode nine of Tails of Testing! Brodie Wise, our EVP of Business Development and Marketing, is chatting with industry expert Bill West, CCSO, Cornerstone Strategies & EVP, Global Skills X-Change, about the importance of trust and integrity in the assessment industry and the key to fostering long-lasting relationships.
[Onscreen: A split-screen of Bill (left) and Brodie (right) chatting virtually.]
Hi, everyone. It’s Brodie Wise with another round of Tales of Testing. I am the Executive Vice President here at ITS in Business Development and Marketing. And today, I am so excited that I get with me Bill West. A great expert in the industry, and he’s been consulting lately. Bill, would you tell us a little bit of what you’re up to now?
Yeah, thanks, Brodie. It’s so fun to be here with you. I have been in the assessment industry roughly forever, worked with basically every kind of assessment program there is on both the vendor side, client side, and now what I’m doing is I’m really drawing on that expertise and as a consultant. So, I’m consulting, working with organizations I respect that are led by people I admire, primarily focused on helping them with growing their markets, finding partners, selecting vendors, and even best practices.
So, drawing on all that expertise to really kind of come alongside organizations as a consultant and help them grow and implement excellence in their programs. Love it, Bill! My understanding is that you actually have been in industry for over 28 years, which is incredible. Why the assessment industry? Why have you been doing this long, and what’s the story there?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, two main reasons, Brodie. It’s important to me, and really in this order, the people and the mission. So, I’ve certainly experienced some hard things in my career, but I believe our industry is generally high integrity and has really a disproportionate—more than our fair share of really good people who care about doing good things. So, I’ve developed many long-term trusted relationships with colleagues who I deeply care about, and I really believe in the mission of assessment and credentialing to protect the public but also advance lives and careers.
It’s a fantastic mission to be part of. Thank you. Yeah, I can see I mean, just being part of this industry for a while. So, Bill, what really comes to mind now, you had a lot over these years and you’ve been a part of it for a long time, but what has been like an impactful moment for you that has affected you in your career?
Mm-hmm. Brodie, there have been so many. I’ve been impacted by really an incredible amount of brilliant leaders. But the one I think I’ll choose that comes to mind really is a former CEO once said, our core product is trust. We are selling trust. And trust is always important, but really especially so in our industry. Our industry, we touch everybody in the world, but it’s actually quite small. Reputation matters, right? Trust for how you serve a client, your dealings really matters. And trust, for me is born out of three things. It’s integrity, it’s competence, do you know assessment and well are you—do you do what you say you’re going to do? And one great example of this, my old my old boss, Don Wagner, was relentless about setting the right expectations to protect that trust. And there were times where we said, you know what, we’re absolutely going to be upfront. Integrity, transparency is important. I’d rather disappoint the prospective client now at bid time than disappoint them later when we execute. And there were times, and as a sales guy it’s really hard to do, where we said no, we can’t do that. And sometimes we even went so far as to say, you know, this is what you should be looking for, but have walked away from deals and a number of those ended up coming back. It could be six months later, three years later. But I saw the value of that right away and which resulted in deals coming back. But also people staying with you because they saw that trust right away.
That’s incredible. Yeah, I love that whole flow, that story. It it’s really what makes our industry difference. But the other thing that’s interesting, Bill, is that you spend a lot of time volunteering at the industry groups. So, ATP, I.C.E., the CNG. Why? What’s the purpose?
Yeah, well, so the first reason really is purely selfish. It’s getting to interact with great people in our industry, building relationships. I really value getting to know people and learning from others and making friends in our industry, but that selfish reason actually ends up making me stronger. A stronger asset to the business I’m in because I’ve learned from others. I understand trends, understand what the market is up to. The less selfish reason is it’s really a way I can help make our industry stronger and develop the people in it. We all have our unique strengths and talents and give things to share, and when we donate them, when they bring them together to the group, and I try to bring whatever I may have to offer it, it makes us all stronger. And I’ve always tried to get my teams involved, building off where I’ve been and getting them in to know this great community.
Yeah, I love it. Bill. I think a big thing is the other thing that you didn’t really touch on, but I know you operate this way because it’s something similar. It doesn’t even matter if we compete with people. We get out there, our goal is truly to make the industry better because we want not only our partners to trust us, we want our competition to trust us because we’re going to see each other. We’re trying to help the industry grow and be better across the board. So, Bill, we’re just going to wrap up a little. I thank you for this, but I would love for you to leave our listeners, just someone new to the industry or maybe the old Bill—before he even started. What advice would you give?
Yeah, well, absolutely. So first, I’d say find some mentors, right? Including from outside your company. And this is an amazingly friendly industry. People are willing to spend time with you and invest in you. I’d say also get involved in the industry committee. That’s how you get to know people and get to know the market. You can’t really walk down the street to a community college to take Assessment 101. Most of it’s on-the-job learning from industry colleagues. Although you can learn from Brodie and me Assessment 101 at I.C.E. this year. Next, dig into the baseline education that is available like the I.C.E. certification handbook, which actually made a big difference for me way back when. And if at all possible, attend great conferences like ATP, CNG, I.C.E., they’re really an ideal place to start. And finally find a way to become friends with Brodie. You’ll really be encouraged and you’ll learn lots!
You’re too kind. So, well, Bill, thank you, and thanks for the plug. But thank you. I really do appreciate you taking the time. Our listeners are going to enjoy this and until next time, everyone, thanks for joining us!
About Our Guests
Brodie Wise, EVP of Business Development and Marketing at Internet Testing Systems, has 16 years of experience in the assessment industry. He has a broad background in client relations, marketing, and operational functions. Brodie is heavily involved in industry events and is the Conference Chair of the 2024 Innovations in Testing (“ATP”) conference. Brodie has a bachelor’s degree in Business from Towson University and holds a PMP certification. On his free time, you can find Brodie smoking meats, volunteering in his community, and spending time with his wife, Christine, and three boys.
Say Hi to Brodie on LinkedIn.
As a senior market leader and consultant in the assessment industry, Bill brings his passion for developing trusted relationships and being an extension of clients’ missions to his role as Chief Credentialing Services Officer for Cornerstone Strategies, where he provides consulting services in market growth, holistic security solutions, and partner selection processes. Bill is honored to work with excellent organizations such as Global Skills X-Change, Vaital, and AERE. Bill enjoys anything that involves spending time with his wife and kids, the brisk Minnesota winters, oh and yes, he is an avid sports enthusiast.
Learn more about Bill by connecting on LinkedIn.