Florida resident Lea Jones, a compassionate woman of Christian faith, spent most of her childhood growing up in Macon, Georgia. She went to Valdosta State University and received her BA in speech communications with a minor in public relations. For three summers during university, she worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, which influenced her decision to move to Orlando after graduation.

Jones’ first job was with SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals in Gainesville in 1993, where she worked for four and a half years. She then went to Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals (sold to Pfizer) and worked there for seven years as their senior sales specialist.

In 2004, Jones joined BoneCare International Pharmaceuticals as their biotech sales specialist. Then in 2005, she started at Astellas Pharmaceuticals as their cardiovascular hospital sales specialist and then their hospital products sales specialist. Jones moved on to AbbVie Pharmaceuticals in 2008 where she worked for the next eight years.

During Lea Jones’ 23 years in pharmaceuticals, she has sold 37 different prescription pharmaceutical products. She was the 2011 VIP Award Winner for high sales with the Metabolic Team at AbbVie. She was also awarded the 2012 and 2013 Summit Presidents Club for top 7% sales representative in the company.

In her free time, this self-proclaimed foodie enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants, volunteering, doing yoga, and spoiling her Shih Tzu.

1. You were previously in pharmaceutical sales. How did you first break into the industry?

After I graduated college, I had talked to some friends that were in my major and just kind of found out what some of the alumni were doing. It seemed like pharmaceutical sales was really a good fit for me because I enjoy dealing with all of the different types of personalities with educated people and medical information. I had a position at Bell South Mobility in cellular sales for about six months, and that gave me some sales experience.

However, I found it was difficult to break into the industry. So I started asking around, and someone I met had a friend who was a videographer for one of the companies I was looking into. When we met, he told me they were having a convention in Orlando and that the vice president and CEOs would be there on a certain day. The videographer was a friend of the VP of sales, so I asked when he would be at the convention. He gave me a description of the guy, and I went to the convention on that day and looked for him.

When he came out of his conference, I was waiting at the end of the hall, and I approached him. I told him my name, that I was there to get a position with his company, and handed him my resume. He had no idea who I was, but he told me it took guts to come down and find him. He gave me his card and told me to call his secretary. He said he’d like to hear from me and that maybe they could find a spot for me.

I called his secretary, and within two days I had an interview. I went through four more and ended up landing a position in Gainesville, Florida. It took a lot of courage, but you have to be really creative in the market to get a position.

2. What keeps you motivated?

Just being excited about the day. I love being around people and interacting with others. I have several hobbies. I have my church, and I go to yoga. I also enjoy inspirational quotes or any kind of motivational books. I’m always reading either those or Christian books. I read a lot of self-help books and do anything that can help with self-care, so I’m motivated by that sort of thing.

3. Tell our readers a little bit about the volunteer work you do.

Most of the volunteer work I do is in the Orlando community, frequently with my church. They have a program called ‘Nice Serve’, which I’ve been active in for the past five years. For that, twice a year the church comes together, and there are about 20 different areas that we can go into for community service, such as the ‘Second Harvest Food Bank’ and ‘Dress for Success’, or we’ll assist with sorting for different companies. Even building kids playgrounds.

I also participate in a lot of cancer walks and other various charities. In the past, I have volunteered several times for ‘Give Kids the World’.

4. Where do you get your inspiration from?

 I would say my parents are very influential in keeping me motivated and keeping a good attitude. I grew up with great values instilled in me by them. They taught me about integrity, kindness, and having an optimistic attitude.

And having faith in God is of utmost importance to me. I enjoy my church through God, through hanging out with like-minded individuals in the community.

I also draw a lot of my inspiration through a lot of reading and discovery of self-help books.

5. Who has been a role model to you and why?

That would be my dad. He’s got a really good heart. He has a strong work ethic, and he’s always been a go-getter. He just turned 82 and he’s still working. He just enjoys his career in the car wash industry – My father has owned car washes over the course of his entire career, since graduating college and he has a real passion for it. I find a lot of motivation through his enthusiasm, strong work ethic and his tenacious spirit.

6. What have been some of your favorite travel destinations?

I have traveled quite a bit during my 23 years working in pharmaceutical sales. I would say Ireland was one of my favorite destinations. I went there with a friend for a wedding, and I absolutely loved the country. We stayed in several different castles. I particularly enjoyed the countryside. Ireland is stunning, and I would definitely recommend for people to travel there.

I’ve also been to Italy four times. I enjoyed the Amalfi Coast, and Capri was beautiful. I also visited Sicily, Rome, Venice, Naples; I especially enjoyed Venice. Many people say they don’t, but I thought it was positively captivating.

Costa Rica is another; it’s also one of my favorite destinations. I did ziplining and whitewater rafting. It’s a beautiful place to visit, and the food is phenomenal.

So, I would say Ireland, Italy, and Costa Rica are my top three favorite places.

7. What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Take time to smell the roses. I think people get too busy in their lives; working, going home, and then repeat. I feel as though people often don’t make time to enjoy the simple things. So I think people need to take a moment, get off their cell phone once in a while, and just be in the moment. Take the time to smell the roses. That advice was something that a friend told me.

8. What is your biggest accomplishment?

I would say my biggest accomplishment would be my career in pharmaceutical sales. I really felt it was well suited for me. I won several awards in the industry, and I won several trips with the company which I’ve enjoyed. The awards were proof that hard work pays off.

9. Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I’m compassionate to people from different walks of life. I feel like you have to look at the individual and truly care about where they’re from and what they’ve been through. I think that’s been something that makes me kind of unique. Caring for others, showing people compassion, and being a friend if they want one.

10. Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

I would say that day would probably be breaking into the industry, as I mentioned before. It really was a long road. It took me around three years to make it.