What makes Prospect Development a great career?
APRA-IL is asking local and national industry leaders what the field means to them and why and how they have pursued success in Prospect Development. Through this blog series we will explore what drives industry leaders to propel their careers and Prospect Development forward.
For this month's piece, Joan Ogwumike, APRA-IL member and volunteer, interviews Brock Silvey of Northwestern University
Brock Silvey is Director of Prospect Research and Management at Northwestern University. He is a past APRA-IL board member and a current APRA International board member.
APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position.
Silvey: I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees in English from Northern Illinois University. I entered the professional world without a clear career path in mind, but I felt like I had many translatable skills. Though my first job out of college was not one that turned into a career, I learned many soft skills that taught me how to function in a professional environment. Then I saw an open Assistant Director of Research job at Northwestern and applied, without an understanding of what development research even was and with little expectation that I would be hired for it. However, I got the position and have been at NU ever since, finding ways to grow within the organization to my present role. Now the world of development feels like the career I was always meant to be in.
APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in this field, and what keeps you engaged.
Silvey: I am always improving processes that I think can be better. I have to make sure that I’m not getting complacent. I’m excited by the idea of prospect development teams becoming more integrated into the fundraising strategy development process. Though I am not a fundraiser, there is no reason why I can’t think like one and let that perspective inform how I manage my team.
APRA-IL: What advice would you give a new professional in the field of prospect development?
Silvey: I thought about this question from the perspective of a hiring manager, and the qualities that I think set people up for success in the work place. I believe these qualities have particular relevance for people in our field: be flexible, be comfortable with an element of ambiguity, let yourself be okay with not always knowing the answer, but have the curiosity to seek out the answer.
APRA-IL: Could you tell us one perception people have about professionals in prospect development? What’s the truth?
Silvey: Many people in our field would probably define themselves as introverts, but I think there’s a misperception outside of our field about what that term means. People sometimes assume that introverts are uncomfortable with interpersonal communication and therefore have limited potential to grow into leadership positions. I would describe myself as an introvert, but what that means for me is that I simply need some alone time in order to recharge. I still thrive on collaborating and strategizing, and I want a seat at the table.
Do you know a leader you want us to profile? Let us know! Email us at email@example.com