Jason Snyder, YEN Member Insights, January 2010

Jason Snyder, SEMA YEN Member of the Month, January 2010

Edelbrock’s Jason Snyder on… Climbing the Ladder

By James Lawrence, PowerTV

Jason Snyder, 34 Years Old
Vice President of Marketing, Edelbrock; YEN Member

At 34 years old, Jason Snyder is one of the most creative and successful young executives at Edelbrock Corporation. Recently promoted to the Vice President of Marketing, Snyder believes his benchmark of success has been a blue collar work ethic and a continued appetite for learning. Known for being candid and direct in the daily course of business, he has helped Edelbrock transition to the digital age with stellar results.

What Does It Take to Make it to the Executive Level?
“Early on, I had a manager that laid out very high expectations. I felt like the karate kid. If I had to clean shelves, stay late, come early – I did it. If I was late, he was standing at the door. There I learned to become an executive – it takes a blue-collar approach. You work hard, do what it takes, and you’ll be successful. I was also wiling to take the big risks for my job. I was 28 when I was offered the opportunity to go to work for Edelbrock. I had to move across the country, away from my wife and 18-month old son, to unfamiliar surroundings and live in a hotel for 7 weeks. But those were the things that I had to do.. to make the sacrifice to make it work.”

Why were you Promoted So Young?
“It came with hard work, because people around me recognized my hard work. Hard work shines through, and many younger people either don’t want to put in the hours, or feel like they are suppressed because of a manager that takes credit for their work. In time, upper management and your company will see your contributions and intelligence.”

Where should you Start?
“I believe with a good relationship with your direct supervisor, and the owner if possible. Be a good employee, listen to your manager, and get the job done. You have to be willing to learn how to present constructive criticism, and give fresh input on important decisions. But before you get over-ambitious, focus on getting the job done that management expects and everything else will fall in line..”

What should a Young Executive Be Careful of Saying
“That’s not my job” and “I don’t know…” needs to be followed up with “…but I’ll find out.” I’m not afraid to say I don’t know, because it’s honest. You need to be inspired to figure out how to learn it. If you’re one of those people that brings up company issues or problems without solutions, you’ll be looked at as disruptive.”

Talk at the Water Cooler -- Building Rapport or Being Negative?
“Everyone has seen some level of negative effects because of the economy. Whether you’ve had a cutback, salary decrease... But I tell people – we are here to get a job done for Edelbrock. Whatever job that is. You stay positive and ideally – we can all be friends and we can achieve more. We spend more time working than we do with our own families. Leading by example gains you respect. Talking at the water cooler does not build rapport. Rapport is built by “picking up the broom..” Lead from the front. Take your own trash out. The little things, people will notice, below or above, and it will help you get noticed.”

What about Salary, How does a Young Executive Approach Compensation in this market?
“Many employees feel like a salaried position means longer hours without overtime pay. A young manager needs to be willing to take those downsides. If you’re worried about earning overtime you aren’t executive material. I don’t believe people should get an adjustment based on tenure, you should earn it. If you feel you are deserving of a salary increase, put in on paper, and be candid about why. You won’t always win that battle, but you’ll be able to discuss salary with your management in a positive way.”

But what if you’re told, “there’s no budget”?
Basic laws of negotiation say don’t accept that as an answer. The issue is understandable, but ask when it can be revaluated, and get a commitment for a date. Part of your plan on the front end, ask your management how you can earn an increase. You can’t just expect a salary increase based on tenure. I’ve gotten increases because of merit. I deserved it because of my workload.”