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Mike Steel: The Client Relations Guru

Mike Steele

Meet a young brother who abandoned his sports fantasy and found the career of his dreams.

What is it that you do for a living? Describe in full detail. What are your day-to-day tasks? 

I’m very excited and proud to say that I am a Client Relationship Manager for a leading industry payments company based out of New York City.  Overall, my job is to manage the global relationship that we have with several industry leading luxury lodging partners.  My day-to-day tasks usually are complex and vary in nature, which is one of the reasons why I love my job.  As an example, one day I can be working with our marketing experts to build a global marketing strategy to drive Cardmembers to our respective luxury-lodging partners; or I could be negotiating with C-level executives in various functions such as finance, operations and/or sales.

Describe the absolute coolest part of your workday. 

The absolute coolest part of my job is being able to travel around the country and the world, discussing and identifying innovative ways where our company can deliver superior value to our merchants.  As an example, it’s cool to create a digital marketing strategy from beginning to end and see the fruition of your work come to life in the U.S or an international market. 

Was this always what you wanted to do? Did you pursue this sort of work while in school? How did you become what you are today?

Absolutely not. This isn’t what I always wanted to do.  Like many young Black males growing up in urban cities, I wanted to be a professional athlete.  It wasn’t until I met my wife’s father where I began thinking about a career in sales and relationship management.  Fortunately for me, I met my wife my senior year of high school and we have been together ever sense (11 years and counting). 

In terms of pursuing this sort of work in school--in undergraduate, I majored in professional sales and marketing, while in graduate school my focus was marketing and corporate strategy at Howard University.  Both were imperative and have prepared me for this role.  Personally, the only way that I have become what I am today is two-fold. [Reason] one is God; the role that I have typically requires a more tenured person, however God is definitely in the blessing business. Two is my sales/strategy/marketing experience that I have built throughout the years as well as attending graduate school.  If it were not for receiving my MBA from Howard, I would not have been prepared to succeed in this role.

Oprah once said that at her core, she is a teacher. What do you consider yourself to be at your core?

At my core, I want to inspire people.  Which is a lesson I learned from my mother.  I want to help people to truly believe that they are blessed beyond measure RIGHT NOW and that whatever it is that you want to do in life, you can absolutely do it if you keep God first and work at it.  I want to motivate people to “prepare” themselves everyday to be the absolute best at whatever it is that they aspire to do.  Keyword: "prepare.”  It’s not going to be easy, but anything worth having in life is worth working hard for…you have 3 types of people in this world… people who WATCH things happen, people who MAKE things happen; and people who WONDER what happened…Which are you?

What are some initial reactions when people find out what you do? What do they say? What are their expressions?

The most consistent initial reaction that I get from people is always about our Premium consumer card products.  People get really excited to talk about these products and want to know which celebrities really have our cards.  Then they want to know if the strategies I work on are targeted to our Premium Cardmembers or if they can indeed get one of these luxury payment cards.

Any advice to someone considering going into your line of work? 

The best advice I can give someone is to have industry insight knowledge on what’s going on in the luxury lodging space as well as how people are spending their money.  Having an understanding of those two concepts are most critical.  In addition, there is a huge emphasis on card members wanting to spend in the digital space via social media channels as well as online advertisement channels so its good to have understanding of how these channels operate.