When embarking on the journey toward your dream job, the only direction to go is up. However, hurdles, limitations and questions frequently intervene. What if aspirations change? What if the company’s upper-level job opportunities are capped? Suddenly the rungs of your career ladder have run out, and it feels like the only way forward is plunging down a slide to another role or company, losing both momentum and progress.

Your career path shouldn’t have to be a game of Chutes and Ladders. But how do we leave the playtime behind and make sure career development is taken seriously? It starts with internal company support.

Making learning and development a basis of company culture not only helps improve employee engagement, but also increases retention and attracts elite candidates, according to Built In’s research. Focusing on growth opportunities also helps leaders identify exactly where an employee’s passions and goals lie, and the skills they require to get there. This was the case with Rachel Kang, who joined dental healthtech company Torch Technology as a sales development representative before swiftly moving into her current role as an inside sales account executive.

“When I started off as a sales development rep, my trajectory to become an account executive (AE) was set to happen within 12 months,” Kang said. “However, because I was able to consecutively beat quota, I transitioned to an AE several months earlier than expected.”

Distinguished Cloud Engineer Igor Brezac’s journey shares a similar arc at digital media organization Discovery Direct-to-Consumer. Following the acquisition of his previous company, Brezac said he has not only been encouraged to explore his technical curiosities during his time at Discovery, but supported to take on bigger responsibilities and tackle major projects with an established sense of trust.

Built In NYC sat down with Kang and Brezac to learn more about how internal company support has propelled their career development paths to new heights, and why growing your career goals doesn’t mean you have to let go of the ladder.

Igor Brezac


What role were first hired for in your company?

I actually joined Discovery via an acquisition. I worked for a small company called HowStuffWorks a while back as a senior engineer, focusing on infrastructure and service development for all of Discovery’s U.S. networks in addition to HowStuffWorks. My role was to act as an engineer and developer, as well as contribute to architecture and offer guidance to my team. We were primarily responsible for running the data centers and system administration, ensuring that sites were up and running, and ultimately that we were building for capability and durability.

Throughout this period, we went through a couple big relaunches, where I typically led some of the engineering efforts. One of the big launches was Discovery GO, which started as a small product that grew into a much bigger vision and undertaking. My team maintained all of the cloud infrastructure for Discovery GO, in addition to a suite of other digital properties such as all of Discovery’s dot-com sites. At that point, this was the biggest product that I was involved with in terms of how quickly it scaled, and how it continued to grow as the business expanded with more brands.


What role are you in now?

I’m currently a distinguished engineer, which is a first for Discovery. While I’m continuing to work on the global expansion for the Discovery+ product after we recently expanded to the Philippines and Canada, I’m also focused on fully automating content creation. This revolves around personalization and recommendations in streaming — eventually, a machine will be able to recommend personalized content to each user based on their viewing preferences and habits. Building this type of technology involves a lot of big data and machine learning, which is incredibly interesting to me.

Before this, a coworker of mine actually recommended me for a promotion and I was given a choice: continue as a people manager or choose to grow in an independent contributor (IC) role. Over time, I had become more interested in an IC role and acting in an advisory capacity, from making sure developers are using best practices and overseeing operational excellence to ensuring that teams are aligned on building one platform. As a result, I was promoted to my previous role as principal engineer, which then gave me the opportunity to act as chief architect for incredibly large launches like Discovery+. I’ve always felt included in larger conversations with leaders and peers alike, and encouraged to share my advice.”


How has your company supported your career growth throughout this journey?

I’m a generally curious person and like to keep up with the trends — it’s just in my nature. Discovery supports this curiosity by encouraging me to speak at AWS conferences, entrusting me with large projects and investing in new technologies or implementations like making the move to Cloud.

Discovery has also always valued my contributions in any capacity, which leaves me feeling humbly empowered in offering my thoughts or opinions. From the second I joined as a senior engineer, I’ve always felt included in larger conversations with leaders and peers alike, and encouraged to share my advice. With the autonomy and accountability that I have, this trust has helped me to grow into increasingly larger roles, such as helping to lead big launches from Discovery GO to Discovery+. 

I like to say that I’ve grown with Discovery: I have and continue to be challenged to take on bigger tasks and a bigger scope as we’ve transitioned from traditional media to digital media, and now are building the future of streaming.

Rachel Kang


What role were first hired for in your company?

After finishing up college, I started at Torch as a sales development representative. I was focused on learning how to qualify opportunities and set as many meetings with key decision makers as possible. I would try out different strategies of calling and emailing to test out what was effective for our sales motion. I would coordinate with my account executives to confirm the meetings were successful and make sure we were winning opportunities.

Once I mastered gaining access to decision makers, I helped share my learnings with the rest of the team by putting on training sessions focused on best practices for getting through to key prospects and building effective outreach strategies.


What role are you in now?

I’m now an account executive (AE) at Torch, handling the full sales cycle from access to closing the deal. I conduct all discovery meetings, first orders and follow ups for account management.

The transition from being a sales development rep to an AE was not as simple as I first expected. I quickly realized that there are so many other important steps in the sales process that I had to learn beyond just the access piece and setting meetings. Each month I focused on a different part of my pipeline: top, middle and bottom. Finally, after three months of ramping up, I found my stride and have been able to bring on great accounts. The coolest part about my journey is watching my own growth and the relationships I have built with each person I work with. I had the support from my managers because they did not feel the need to slow down my growth.”


How has your company supported your career growth throughout this journey?

When I started off as a sales development rep, my trajectory to become an AE was set to happen within 12 months. However, because I was able to consecutively beat quota, I transitioned to an AE several months earlier than expected.

I had the support from my managers who advocated that I be promoted earlier because they felt that I was ready and did not feel the need to slow down my growth. We also have a personal career growth plan which I revisit with my manager every quarter to discuss what my long term goals are and how we can work together to get there. Opportunities for growth and a good company culture were extremely important for me when looking for a job, and Torch has continuously provided me with that constant support and encouragement — not only from my managers, but my colleagues as well.