Meet Dan Clay, a Gartner Account Executive who is able to explore his passions for becoming a pilot and published author because of Gartner’s practical approach towards work-life balance. Learn about Dan’s career journey below.
It’s been 10 years since I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in marketing, and in that time I’ve had a chance to live in a few different places and experience a variety of regional cultures. After I graduated, I went to work for a global energy company as an account manager in Houston, TX, for about a year before being transferred to Portland, OR. After another year or so, I could no longer resist the pull of the sunshine from neighboring California and made the move to San Francisco, where I’ve lived ever since (after experiencing the fog and gloom of a San Francisco summer, however, I realized the joke was on me).
Landing at the epicenter of startups and technology afforded near-limitless options to immerse myself in the fast-paced, entrepreneurial culture of the tech scene here, and I’ve since held roles at startups as small as 10 people to huge, well-known technology companies whose products millions of people use every day. Throughout my career in the technology space, I’ve always been motivated by one underlying factor — the learning opportunities presented by challenging, interesting work that will push me beyond the limits of my comfort zone and help me further develop my capabilities. With that ethos, I saw myself staring at an opportunity to do just that at the company I now call home: Gartner.
With my current team at Gartner, I discovered an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds: The scrappiness of a nascent business unit still trying to figure things out coupled with the wisdom and expertise of an industry leader that thousands of customers turn to for help solving their most critical business issues. Where I had only been serving midlevel customers in previous roles, my role at Gartner suddenly had me meeting with VPs and C-level executives, serving as their trusted partners and thought leaders. This has allowed me to seriously up my game when it comes to managing strategic relationships and has given me keen insights into the biggest problems companies are trying to solve.
The culture at Gartner is second to none. I’d describe it as “collaborative competition”—everybody strives to produce excellent work, but it doesn’t come at the expense of other people’s success. The people are warm, intelligent and always willing to go out of their way to help you learn something new. Everybody understands that in order to succeed as a company, we must succeed together, so that creates an open, welcoming environment where people are encouraged to share and collaborate in pursuit of their individual objectives. Few companies are able to get this balance right, and it’s refreshing to be immersed in that kind of environment.
Gartner’s practical approach toward work-life balance is another aspect of its culture that really stands out. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to pursue a number of interests outside of work during my time here, including launching a blog, publishing my first book and I was able to work towards getting my pilot’s license (I just got my wings the other day!).The ability to focus on outside interests has kept me centered and has actually improved the quality of my work and alleviated a lot of the stress that comes with putting in too many hours in any given focus area. Gartner understands that the best performers are well-rounded individuals and they don’t just pay lip service to the idea of a healthy work-life balance—they demonstrate that commitment through the level of autonomy they provide each employee at the company.
Because of how quickly Gartner is growing, it’s hard to tell where I’ll end up next. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of exciting opportunities to grow further and take my career wherever I want it to go. The sky’s the limit — and who knows? Maybe I’ll see you up in the clouds sometime soon.
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