Damon Klotz: how to create a career you love
I love the saying that you can do whatever you put your mind to. What I love even more is meeting someone who chases their passions and makes things happen.
I first met Damon Klotz last year, after we were connected by a lovely person who recognised the similarities between Damon's career progression and where I was at when I started this blog.
Almost fresh out of Uni, HR graduate Damon created a huge online following for himself, using blogging and social media to share his ideas about the future of HR and recruitment. Fast forward a few short years, Damon conquered the digital space at healthcare company Ramsay, before recently heading back to his HR roots to join start up Culture Amp.
Impressive career and hard-working attitude aside, Damon is also a great guy who loves sharing what he knows - perfect for Making It Up! I caught up with Damon before he jetted off to San Francisco, and he very kindly agreed to take some time out of his hectic schedule to share his story and learnings with us.
10 years ago, where did you see your career heading?
10 years ago I’d already experienced some highs and lows in the world of work. I’d left a job at Hungry Jacks in dubious circumstances & was stacking shelves at Coles of a night. Both had taught me that I was willing to work hard to find work that I loved. But it was during 2005 that I did my first professional work experience through high school where I was placed in a sport management and marketing firm. That was the first time I’d felt what many people have told me before, doing something you love doesn’t feel like work.
What was your first job?
The month before I turned the legal age to work in Australia my dad drove me around the local suburbs armed with my resume. I really wanted to work in the video store, as I was studying film and television at high school. On the way home we decided to get something to eat, Dad saw that Hungry Jacks was also hiring & told me to put my resume in their as well. I initially refused but reluctantly dropped my resume off. Two weeks later they were the only ones who’d asked me to interview & four weeks later when I could legally work I turned up for my first shift cleaning tables & cooking meat.
What was your first career lesson?
At the time when I left Hungry Jacks, I thought it was the end of the world. Two weeks later I was working at Coles, which ended up paying me more, giving me better hours & more time to study. So my first career lesson was that the end of the world is usually the start of another one, if you’re willing to take a chance.
I'm fascinated in your change and rapid rise from HR to Global Digital Strategy at Ramsay. Can you explain how you made this happen?
I love the quote that to be an overnight success usually requires 10 years of hard work that nobody notices. My transition from HR into Digital wasn’t as dramatic as that, but it was based on the same principle. I was using social media & digital marketing to create a professional brand online & to open myself up to new networks & opportunities. The more I learnt about it the more I got interested in digital for recruitment and HR which naturally progressed into the impact of digital on the whole organisation.
How have you found new jobs and opportunities?
The last job I officially applied for was at Coles in 2004. Every role since then has either been through networking, sourced online due to my online presence or though referrals.
I’ve always been a fan of looking for the multiple side doors that exist whilst everyone else knocks on the front door.
Tell us about your new job? What attracted you to Culture Amp and what do you hope to achieve in your new role?
My role at Culture Amp has allowed me to come full circle in my career. I started off in HR and was deeply passionate and involved in the global HR & Recruitment community. I then took a career risk to leave HR behind & try out digital strategy. I was also helping to build a NFP start up on the side. My role with Culture Amp is looking after Digital & Community for a HR Tech Start Up. It was just the perfect opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.
I know you have been super smart about networking, blogging and social media. What are your tips for someone who wants to find new opportunities and make big things happen in a non-conventional way?
This is a really simple technique but one that has worked time and time again. Let’s say you’re a young HR professional wanting to make your mark. Logic says, attend the HR meet ups and make a name for yourself. Instead of that, I learnt that if you attend marketing, digital, finance, start up & other industry meet ups and groups I was often the only HR professional there. It’s a lot easier to make a name for yourself when you’re the only HR person in the room.
Tell us about your involvement in Spur Projects? Is this just a passion project or have you learned valuable skills for your career?
Spur Projects started as a passion project that allowed me to take action in an area that had affected a lot of people close to me. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have a positive impact on my career as well. I’ve learnt about finance, legal & other areas that affect starting your own organisation. I’ve successfully pitched in front of large audiences & met a lot of people that wouldn’t be in my normal sphere of influence. But at the end of the day I’m proud of the work that we’re doing in trying to reduce the suicide rate in Australia.
What are you most excited about?
Away from my work I’m deeply passionate about a couple of topics that take up most of my spare time. I got introduced to travel hacking a few years ago & coupled with a lot of work travel I’ve learnt lots of neat tricks to maximize my time in the air & spend my money on experiences not things. Football & Chelsea FC are my religion, not even joking. I had the amazing experience of living down the road from their stadium when I lived in London. I stay up all hours of the day & night to watch them. The last thing would be mentoring. I had so many amazing mentors who gave their time to me when I started my career that have had a tremendous impact on my life to date. I love that, even at a young age, I’m also to share my learnings with my mentees from QUT & beyond with students looking to find work that they love as well.
What's the best piece of advice someone has given you?
I’m the eldest of four boys & I’ve been very lucky to have parents that helped me work towards my goals & empower me to take on any challenge that has come my way. I’m about to board a plane to San Francisco in one hour's time & I’m only doing that because throughout my life I’ve been told that with hard work & taking chances you can do anything that you put your mind to.