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CCE Program Participant Interview: Samantha Testa, Virginia Lottery

At the Center for Corporate Education, our biggest success is that of our program participants. Learn more about Samantha Testa, a VCU alumna and recent participant in our “Identifying Your Leadership Style” program, which was facilitated this summer by Dr. Jean Gasen

What is your current career path and how did you get there?

I am currently an Area Sales Manager at Virginia Lottery and I am responsible for managing 13 individuals who handle over 700 Lottery retail locations. I started my journey with the Virginia Lottery in a part time work study position while I was a student at VCU and accepted a full time position shortly after graduating in 2013 from VCU School of Business. I worked as a Sales Representative for 7 years and took advantage of multiple VCU Center for Corporate Education events in my journey towards transitioning into management. Early in my career I set a goal that I’d like to move into management and I took advantage of the courses that VCU CCE had to offer for folks in my exact situation – it’s never too early to start learning and preparing yourself, if anything it’s exactly what more folks should do to prepare themselves rather than waiting until they have the job to learn more about it. 


How was your experience with your specific course or program?

I most recently attended “Identifying your Leadership Style” facilitated via Zoom by Jean Gasen. I gained so much from the abbreviated version in this particular course that I have chosen to attend the full length course “Identifying and Leveraging your Leadership Style” in person [this fall]. It allowed me to identify both strengths and weaknesses in certain areas while developing an action plan for how to properly apply my leadership style while managing others. 


How will your experience change or enhance your current career path?

The old saying goes – you lead people, you manage processes and that rings true in this course. Understanding your own leadership style is just as important as acknowledging that not every individual thrives under the same type of management.  There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way of doing things but I can say with complete confidence that the minute you stop trying to adapt in a world that’s consistently changing that you’re not doing yourself or your team any favors. I will continue to challenge myself and in turn challenge my team to be better versions of ourselves. The numbers and statistics are measurable, they’re tangible; but, it’s the development and engagement of your team combined with the overall vision that ultimately determines overall success. 

What advice would you have for someone considering participating in a CCE program?

Stop thinking about it and sign up NOW! I have always been a huge advocate for Professional Development and encourage everyone I know to just take the leap. It might be out of your norm to sit in a room and tell other people your strengths and weaknesses, in fact, the sheer thought of it might be enough to make you reconsider but I can promise if you invest in these programs you are in turn investing in yourself. The VCU Center for Corporate Education has a wide variety of courses, all intended to make you reflect on how you’ve done things in the past while setting you up for success and a tangible action plan to work with in the future. I have had the pleasure of attending a handful of courses and there isn’t a single one that I would choose to skip if offered again, these programs are designed to build on one another over time. It’s a journey, it’s not a one and done kind of deal – there’s always more to learn, it’s up to you to take the time to do it. 


Describe a “lightbulb moment” you’ve had on your personal career journey.

I remember distinctly sitting in my first VCU Center for Corporate Education class and it was about “Mindfulness and Applying a Growth Mindset”… now, you might read that and immediately think I’m talking about a Yoga class but it’s not, it’s so much more. My lightbulb went off when we were having a discussion about active listening  and it was at that exact moment that I realized I wasn’t listening at all, I was reading ahead and planning my thoughts about the next portion of the course. This is something that I have steadily worked on through the insights and tools presented during the VCU Programs. These programs challenge you to break down your predisposed notions of how you think things should be done and quickly identify the things that you have yet to do.

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