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Oracle Class Of Spotlight: Courtney Avery, Class Of 2015

With nearly 140,000 employees, Oracle is one of the world’s largest employers, and there’s a constant need to hire and train talent as the company grows. The need for a comprehensive recruiting, onboarding, and role-specific training program led CEO Mark Hurd to develop and launch the Oracle Class Of program in 2013.

Mark Hurd takes questions from 262 Oracle Class Of program hires in June 2018.
Oracle CEO Mark Hurd answers questions from a Class Of group of 262 new hires at Oracle’s headquarters.
The Class Of program recruits thousands of promising, recent college graduates each year and has become essential to the growth and development of Oracle’s sales force.

We recently spoke to Courtney Avery, an application sales manager based in Boston, Massachusetts, about his experience joining Oracle as part of the 2015 Class Of group.

Tell us about your background and how you came to Oracle.

I attended the University of Michigan where I double-majored in political science and African-American Studies. In addition to my academics, I played football and was team captain my senior year. Following graduation, I aspired to play in the NFL and received an invitation to try-out for a team. While this was an amazing experience, I soon found myself exploring other paths.

I met with a career counselor and began networking. A number of my former teammates had gone into software sales. While I initially thought this would be a good fit for me since I enjoy speaking with people, I came to see how the strengths I had developed at Michigan particularly lend themselves to sales. I attended a campus recruiting event, Oracle was there, and the rest is history.

Did the Class Of program influence your decision to join Oracle?

The Class Of program was definitely part of the decision process. I knew I had the right work ethic to excel, but I needed a professional development opportunity to learn the skills. If I could find a company that would invest in me and provide robust training, then I would take care of the rest and find a way to be successful from there.

After speaking with the recruiter and sales leaders at Oracle, they showed me that’s exactly what this program offers. Through the Class Of program, you get a lot of support, a lot of training to develop sales and professional skills, and even training on the industry. That’s the foundation I needed to be successful and what really drew me to Oracle—not to mention Oracle’s ability to innovate and their position in the market.

What were your impressions of the program? How did it help you, and were there particular things that were more valuable than others?

The sales training and, more specifically, the variety of methodologies taught were particularly helpful. It wasn’t just one set way: “This is the way you do sales; here’s step one, here’s step two, here’s step three.” It was more, “Here are what we find to be the best practices; these are what we think will help you be successful. However, here’s another way you can do it as well.” This helped me build a repertoire of sales tools. Exposure to different strategies also allowed me to find the sales approaches that best fit my personality.

When you came in with the Class Of program, did you meet any of the senior executives?

We had a day where the Class Of recruits went to Mark Hurd’s house and got a chance to meet and speak with Mark, CMO Judith Sim, and a few other executives. That was a great experience. I asked Mark what advice he had for us. He mentioned focus and getting really good at the job that you’re currently in. I think people coming out of college want to be an entry-level rep today and CFO or CEO tomorrow. That advice to get really good at the job — it’s kind of simple, but that’s how you move up in the company. You stand out when you become successful at your current role.

What advice would you offer to future Class Of recruits?

Focus on your professional development. Be self-aware and understand what skills you’re lacking and what you can do to improve those skills. Set specific and measurable goals. Focus on that rather than on how to make a quick dollar or a quick sell. Obviously, your performance matters, but the program is a training program, so you should be focused on being the best professional and the best sales rep you can be. The sales and promotions will follow, but your initial focus should remain on professional self-improvement.

Edited for length and clarity.