David Donlan '00: Seek a mentor, build a network, and 'don't be afraid'

David Donlan

Major: Computer Information Systems

David Donlan '00 David Donlan’s expertise in marketing and sales is legendary throughout the greater Boston area. He earned this reputation by combining a solid background in computer information and data base systems with entrepreneurial passion and a natural talent for sales.

The knowledge, skills, and leadership Donlan has demonstrated throughout his career have helped propel a number of marketing and media firms from start-up through growth and acquisition. Now the chief revenue officer for Crayon, an industry leader in competitive intelligence for marketing and sales, Donlan is responsible for developing market intelligence strategies that increase clients’ sales and revenue growth.

When Donlan reflects on what he’s learned, a recurring theme emerges: don’t be afraid. It begins with the best advice he ever received. “Make 10,000 mistakes at the start of a job. You can’t learn without trying,” he explains. “Don’t be afraid to break glass or take chances in the first 60 to 90 days of a new job.”

Donlan believes that every young professional should seek out a mentor, “right out of the gate.” He advises new graduates to ask about mentoring opportunities in job interviews. “Don’t be afraid to ask for mentoring. You will be making a lot of career decisions and need to have two or three mentors, at least. And people are happy to do it.”

He pairs that advice with what he believes is the most important ingredient for professional success: networking . No matter what field you are in, Donlan believes, “networking is part of your job. That means lots of lunches, coffees, and meetings with customers, competitors, partners, and peers.” The goal, says Donlan, is to build and learn from that network, knowing that those contacts will remember you when an opportunity that fits your interests and abilities comes along.

Donlan’s proudest moments come through the achievements of those he has led, coached, and mentored. “I’m most proud when a sales rep I hire and train wins an award, or starts a company, or does something else great. That’s more important to me than any plaque.”