Building Your Personal Brand as a Senior Seller

By Ashley Keimach, SIS Contributing Writer Candace Jordan is more than your average sales professional. As a performer at heart, Candace learned early on in her career how to stand out. With over a decade of sales experience, she now works as a Manager for Consumer Goods at Google with a team of 10 sales professionals under her leadership. Undoubtedly Candace has built a career that many young professionals aspire to. But what is it really like to walk in her shoes? How can you climb the corporate ladder, keep up with the demands of a sales career, while still having time to build your own personal brand? In this interview Candace welcomes us into her world,  and gives us all a peek inside of what it takes to build a successful career without neglecting your own personal brand and passions.  How It Started  Before making her mark in tech, Candace started off her career in the entertainment industry as a professional singer. While performing fueled Candace and was a deep passion of hers, she ultimately decided to switch career paths with the goal of finding greater stability. In an effort to find a new lane for herself, Candace decided to go back to school and focus on advertising. Initially, Candace hoped advertising would give her the opportunity to continue flexing her creativity and love for music by writing jingles for commercials. However, Candace quickly found that she was much more interested in the financial side of advertising, which ultimately led to her building a new career in Media Planning.  “What I found in all of my courses is that I actually liked managing the money. I didn’t like the creative process as it was too restrictive for me so I ended up in Media Planning where I got to work with brands who basically said ‘here’s what we’re trying to accomplish, here’s how much money we have, tell us what to do with it’ – and I loved it!”  Working in Media Planning revealed to Candace her interest in strategy and marketing. It allowed her to be close to her initial love for entertainment while giving her the freedom to build new skills that would eventually open the door to greater opportunities.  Through networking, Candace found her next opportunity with Google as a customer service rep. This opportunity eventually led to a transition into sales as an Account Manager. In this role, Candace was able to keep her finger on the advertising world as she worked with advertising agencies, connecting them with google solutions and products that would better serve their clients.   As an outsider looking in, it’s easy to see the results of Candace’s hard work without seeing the strategy behind it. When asked how young professionals can take control of their career and break into the sales industry, Candace shares the following insight: “There are a lot of roles that are transferable into sales… When I developed my resume and I wanted to tell the story about what value I would bring into the company and in the role, I talked a lot about my ability to influence stakeholders…” Candace goes on to explain that it’s all about “identifying what’s transferable in your current role and what gaps you need to fill…If you are doing problem solving and influencing stakeholders, or convincing people that a strategy you developed is right for them, you are already selling.”  This is precisely what Candace did for herself. Each job opportunity presented new skills and experiences that she was able to leverage to break into new roles and make a positive impact within the sales industry.  The work however, doesn’t end there. It’s one thing to aspire to a role like the one Candace currently has – it’s a totally different thing once you land the role.  How It’s Going When asked what it’s actually like being a leader at Google, Candace shared the following: “It’s harder than it looks. Good managers spend a lot of time trying to keep the team calm and supported and happy and shield the team from a lot of things that might be going on externally or internally.”  But that’s not all.  Candace goes on to explain that being a manager also means you have to ensure your team is doing well and performing well. “It can be difficult to navigate so many different personalities and people at different places in their career and levels of expertise.” Despite these challenges, Candace loves the fact that she has a direct role in helping the people on her team develop and grow professionally. “Developing people [and] coaching people is something I have always done, I just wasn’t being paid for it, but it’s important to me.” Candace goes on to share that being a Sales Manager at a major tech company “takes a lot but it’s a labor of love. “I was a very strong seller and contributor…[but learning how] to transfer those skills to others is a new challenge…but it’s very fulfilling.” When asked if someone in a sales position can get better, Candace shared the following perspective: “There is an academic aspect of sales that can 100% be taught. Do the research and come prepared. You can definitely get better at that. You have to pair the concrete side of sales with your own unique personality.” Over the last few years, Candace has worked her way into her current position where she is now leading a team of 10 sales professionals. What started out as a desire to find stability, evolved into a wealth of experience and a beautiful career. Identity and its Challenges in Tech Climbing the ranks at a major tech company and within an industry that has been male dominated for many years is not an easy feat. There are many challenges one might face as they work to build their career, especially if you’re a woman of color.  Candace experienced these challenges first hand and it has created a passion

You Belong: How To Share Your Superpower

A Conversation With Microsoft’s Rashida Hodge Meet Rashida Hodge, an executive leader in the AI and emerging technologies space. In this interview, Rashida gives us insight into what it means to bring your authentic self to work, and everywhere else you go.  A native of St. Thomas, and a proud Caribbean woman, Rashida believes in the importance of family, and has a wonderful support system in her mother, who is also her best friend.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Rashida, tell me a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and how you got where you are. I am from the US Virgin Islands, particularly the island of St. Thomas  and  I’m a proud Caribbean woman. My mom and  dad still live in the islands and I frequently visit. I’m the aunt of six nieces and nephews so I am surrounded by love daily and my mom is my best friend. I like to tell people that my mom is my strength, and  my driving force of where I am today. My mom gave birth to me as a teenager. She endured not only her own shock, but the shock of many others, including family and friends. Somehow, through the crushing pressure of small community whispers, internal disappointments and love for me, my mother made the decision to relentlessly persevere despite her circumstances.  My mother bore out a resolve that imprinted on me a tenacity and absolute vigor for life.  She is my biggest inspiration and I am grateful daily for her sacrifice.  Culture is important for Rashida and she is especially proud of her family and her heritage – something many of us can relate to. In addition to her personal culture, work culture is also important. So we talked about culture a little bit and where you’re from. What is the culture like at Microsoft? The culture at Microsoft  fits me perfectly – a challenging, learning environment, energized, fast paced,  fun, and  allows me to do meaningful and  impactful work. It’s my family reunion with my extended family daily and we collectively get the opportunity to work with clients to solve their most pressing problems.  Work culture is just as important for most people as personal culture, thus  finding a company that embodies a culture that resonates with you is key.  For some, that may be a company that exudes certain values and for others it may be a company that embraces and supports activities that are important to your ecosystem; or enabling and environment that allows you to thrive.  In any case, Rashida supports the idea of embracing your culture and being your full self – inside and outside of the office. I would love to understand what you  mean when you say, “bring your authentic self to work.” For the majority of my career, I have operated under the crippling belief that I have to be perfect or damn near perfect to succeed in corporate spaces. I often describe myself as having the perfect trifecta of “the tax”.  I’m black, a woman and some say I look young. Basically put, I have paid my fair share of the “black tax”. I often worked twice as hard to get where others are with less effort. I would do things to make myself look less youthful , so people did not think I was unskilled or unqualified for the job.  However, overtime, I realized this was the wrong approach and my nuance was my differentiator.  If being a unicorn is the main way for women and people of color to access powerful rooms, there’s your reason for why so few of us are in there. Unicorns aren’t real, and it’s unsustainable for that expectation to be placed on us. There are some who are on their journey to bring their authentic selves to work and others who have not even begun. Knowing why it is so important can help those struggling to make a change, take a chance. What would you say to those who are afraid to take your advice and bring their authentic selves to work?  Creating a life of not just professional success, but significance requires you to bare your boldness.  One of my favorite components of boldness is creating and displaying your own vibe,  because it’s basically the brand you carry with you. As mentioned earlier, I am a Caribbean woman, from St. Thomas, US VirginIslands to be more specific. And for many years, I did a good job of tucking away my Caribbean identity from my work identity. I wouldn’t talk about carnival or my rambunctious family. I even got rid of my accent. But, I’ve learned that my vibe is my boldness. I openly talk about my visits home for Carnival. I let my accent slip in and out as I please, and most importantly I share how significant my family is to me. And I hope it doesn’t take others as long to share their vibe, as it did for me.  The world needs it. We need everyone to have the boldness to share your quirks, family history and essence. That’s your vibe and your boldness. Speaking of being authentically you and embracing different perspectives and personal nuances, tell me, what does diversity equity inclusion mean to you and what is Microsoft’s stance on this? I was actually on a panel recently for Women’s History Month and one of my peers on the panel said that, “DE&I shouldn’t be an initiative. It shouldn’t be a program. It shouldn’t be a thing. It’s everyday life.”  I couldn’t agree more.   It is essential and should be embedded in our daily fabric of how we drive belonging and purpose for each person in the workforce.  From a Microsoft perspective, our mission is how do we empower every person, every organization on the planet to achieve more? And we certainly want to believe that different perspectives help us all to achieve more on this journey and mission. This is

Pace Setter: How Faith and Freedom Drive Sales Success

When passion meets purpose, the possibilities are endless. For Rachel Pace, an Account Executive at Tableau, a Salesforce company, those possibilities extend far beyond her day job. A deep desire for personal growth and financial freedom drives her success. That desire and an unshakable confidence have made her accomplished career inevitable. So, was this sales superwoman born or built? According to Rachel, it’s a little bit of both. From Science To Sales Rachel has been an Account Executive at Tableau for six months, focused on Healthcare and Life Sciences. For many people, sales is less something they found and more something they fell into. Rachel’s path was a bit more intentional, but no less unconventional. “As a mechanical engineering student at North Carolina A&T State University, I interned at a major pharmaceutical company where I fell in love with the technical side of medicine. Upon graduation, I accepted a role as a Pharmaceutical Sales rep which was a great fit for me. It allowed me to hone in on the technical side but also be personable and interact with my customers. It just fueled me.” Rachel’s aspirations were inspired by her father, who was a pharmaceutical salesman. His career gave Rachel a front row seat to the fun, freedom and fast pace of a sales career. “The fancy dinners he’d take his clients on, being able to make his own schedule, not being held to an office or a cubicle… Seeing that freedom first hand inspired me to get into the world of pharmaceutical sales.” Rachel took to pharma sales quickly and began making a name for herself. She consistently outperformed her peers, earning her praise and job security throughout the first half of her career. She eventually moved into the world of Maintenance, Repair and Operations in Healthcare  but after more than a decade at her previous company, Rachel started to feel like there was something missing: A challenge. While her role afforded safety and job security, Rachel started to feel stagnant and lacked career growth. As complacency threatened to settle in, Rachel realized it was time to exit her comfort zone. She interviewed and started with Tableau, a Salesforce company, focused on enabling companies to see and understand data in new ways. In her new tech sales role, Rachel found the challenge she was looking for. “It feels so good to be reinvigorated and back to a space where it’s like ‘The world of software is so new to me but  I know that I can learn and I’m hungry for what it is that they’re trying to teach me.’” Navigating the Nuances Rachel Pace’s achievements are remarkable by any measure. She’s just six months into her role and has already achieved 215% of quota. This is, no doubt, aided by the culture of inclusion she experiences in her role. Her success is also, in part, driven by the impact of seeing others from historically underestimated groups succeed. That representation is one of the first things that impressed her about joining both Tableau and Salesforce. “Seeing Black women represented within Salesforce at both the leadership and managerial levels as well as in my peers is so encouraging.” Rachel also talked about the importance of vetting company culture before coming on board. She suggests asking future team members questions like: 1. How do the company’s stated values align with what you experience?2. Do you feel supported? Are you encountering a glass ceiling? “Being able to have those candid conversations before coming on board was so affirming.” This kind of transparency also helped Rachel feel comfortable showing up as her most authentic self. “It’s inevitable as a Black woman. Yes, we are multifaceted ! I don’t know what else to tell you.” Take The Trip. Leave The Ladder There is much to be impressed with about Rachel Pace’s career success, but perhaps even more admirable is her thoughtful perspective on what truly matters in life. She centers family, spiritual health, and the endeavor to leave the people and places she meets just a little better than she found them. So, what’s next? For many sales people the answer to this question is rooted in career aspirations, but Rachel sees things differently. “I just want the ability to be content with what I have and for my son to be able to experience other cultures first hand.” Rachel emphasizes gratitude as a source of motivation. She is in no hurry to climb the corporate ladder, but being content does not equal being complacent.  Rachel is hungry to succeed, but says winning as a seller is less about collecting titles and more about making memories with her son. Achieving her sales goals means more than money. It’s fuel to fund their future without limits. If you’re interested in working with Rachel and the rest of the Tableau team, apply here.

#StrongerTogether: Global Sales Leader Ensuring Work-Life Balance While Driving DE&I Change

Syreeta (Gordon) Taitt, a Senior Manager, Sales FINS. and BOLDforce Canada Founder & Co-President, shares how her desire to maintain work-life balance has impacted her career journey. She also talks about how her unique global background and experiences helped catapult her career. Check out Syreeta’s insights below to set yourself apart as a professional saleswoman of color. Starting her career as a bilingual data translator, Syreeta saw first-hand how data provides valuable business insights. As a Customer Service Representative, her curiosity and desire to learn more led to a sales role. I asked her to tell us about her entry into sales. I joined a tax and accounting software company to break into a technical role, and that’s where my love for software began. I worked in customer service, answering calls from account executives and customers about their software. I assisted them and described the features and functionalities of the software. I said to myself, “I am fielding these questions from the account executives; what do they do?” I started networking to understand what it means to be in sales. Shortly after, I was promoted to an internal account management role, selling the tax and accounting software. When I moved into property management software and enterprise-style software sales, the company was using Salesforce. Afterwards, Salesforce reached out and asked if I would be interested in interviewing with them. The first time Salesforce reached out, I declined because the timing didn’t work well for me. When the company reached out again with a brand new role, it piqued my interest. The role was for a position in the healthcare and life sciences industry. My grandmother had recently passed away from cancer, so it was interesting to learn more about the U.S. health system and the kind of support that was in place. You were recently promoted from leading an outbound Business Development Representative (BDR) team to now leading a small business FINS Sales team.  Can you tell us about your transition into sales leadership and your Global BOLDforce role?  I wanted to get into a leadership role and understand more about what it’s like to be a leader at a company. My BDR team was prospecting into organizations to try to uncover opportunities and projects for the account executives. Learn more about our open roles at Salesforce here! What excites me most is seeing the potential of my reps and seeing them realize that potential. I’m positive and always see the best in people. I always try to tell coworkers, direct reports, mentees, friends, etc., “I know that you can get promoted. I know that you can do this job and do it well, and I know you can do the next job well.” But until they believe it, it is not going to happen. The moment you see the switch, when they realize they can do this — that is amazing. It is similar to parenting. You tell your kids many things, repeatedly. You explain, and you try to show them the right way. You hope that they are listening, and then one day they finally turn around, and they say your words back to you or show you, with their own flavor. That is what excites me about leadership and my team. I’m seeing more and more everyday that they’re finding that courage to go above and beyond. It’s all them. I also founded BOLDforce Canada, here in Toronto. BOLDforce, which stands for the Black Organization for Leadership and Development, is a Salesforce Equality group created to expand and empower Salesforce’s Black community. BOLDforce started in the U.S., but there was no presence in Canada. I realized the culture at Salesforce’s Toronto office did not quite reflect the rich diversity of the city. I wanted to make sure there was a safe space for Black and Brown individuals to have conversations and, from a leadership and development standpoint, that they had a support system in place. I have also taken on a global BOLDforce role, in which I support BOLDforce globally from a growth standpoint. In this role, I ask myself: how can I make sure that we are continually retaining our Black employees and growing our number of Black employees, from internships to leadership roles?  In general, my work with BOLDforce is to help ensure that there is a space for individuals to feel supported in their daily lives. Learn more about Syreeta’s game changing work with BOLDforce and what it takes to become a successful saleswoman at Salesforce here. Can you tell us more about your unique global background and experience? My background is an interesting one, often referred to as a unicorn for my unique background and experience. I was born in the UK and my parents are Jamaican, so I’m Jamaican through and through. I was raised all over the world — that is where my bilingualism and love of languages comes from. And technology is really just another language. I spent over a decade of my life in Kenya and then another decade in Geneva, Switzerland, and then lived two years in the U.K. I came to Canada to continue my education, and, coming from Switzerland, hospitality was on the top of my mind. I attended Ryerson University in Toronto and studied hospitality and tourism with a minor in communications. I also continued studying French, which I learned while in Geneva. I quickly realized that I was not a fit for the hospitality field. I’m not the type to be working on holidays; I enjoy my holidays and weekends. And, of course, with two kids, it makes a whole lot more sense to have the stability of a Monday-to-Friday role. I believe that a person’s industry and company should support them and their values in all ways, shapes, and forms, whether they are a parent or not. I found that as a mother, I could do sales. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in the importance of work-life balance. Tell us how you make it work. Growing up,

#StrongerTogether: Be the Change Maker

Carlisha Kellum, Regional Vice President, Marketing Cloud at Salesforce | BOLDforce Indy Co-President Carlisha Kellum is a ”Change Maker” who decided early in her career that she could take the lead instead of waiting for someone else to make things happen. I asked Carlisha how she started her career in tech, what makes her a successful sales professional, and how she has driven change. Here’s what she said: Last year you had a record-setting year and exceeded your annual sales quota. You have worn several hats at Salesforce. Tell me about your career journey and what contributed to your success? Last year, I was a Senior Account Executive in the growth business segment for Commercial Marketing Cloud. I sold our digital marketing solutions that enable our customers to effectively reach their consumer base. I had a record-setting year last fiscal, closing about $1.7 million in new and current business across my segment. To give some perspective, that’s 270 percent of my quota. I’ve also been able to work on other projects and take on new responsibilities. When I started out in sales, I found it was a bit challenging to break into the tech industry. Fortunately, a connection from Indiana University posted that Salesforce was growing and looking for new inbound sales representatives at that time. I had zero connections in the tech industry and  had to research what makes a good tech sales representative. I started as an inbound representative, or SDR, then I became a business development representative (BDR) doing outbound sales and later  moved into an Account Executive role. I try to pass along all the  knowledge I have gained including the ways in which I have been successful during my six years at Salesforce, to new folks who come on board. Outside of my day-to-day role, I’m also Co-President of the Black Organization for Leadership and Development—BOLDforce Indy Group. There isn’t much Black or Brown representation in tech, so I appreciate that Salesforce is committed to using their platform to advance the conversation. I was lucky to have a mentor—Chris Roberts, who works at Salesforce in our Toronto office—help me navigate this and ways to get involved. When I first became an Account Executive at Salesforce, I was a bit unsure of where I wanted to take my career. I spent some time working at a smaller partner company before I found myself back at Salesforce with a better understanding of what I wanted out of my career. Learn more about Carlisha’s game-changing work with BOLDforce and what it takes to become a woman in sales at Salesforce. “If I’m going to come back, I’m going to be serious about this.” Upon returning to Salesforce, how did you step into your role as a “Change Maker”? I returned to Salesforce after about six months; I was lucky that I had kept a lot of my connections. When I returned, I said to myself, “If I’m going to come back, I’m going to be serious about this.” My first steps were taking on the role of Co-President with BOLDforce, getting more involved with the Black and Brown communities in Indianapolis, and engaging with Salesforce allies in an impactful way. It took me a while to realize that I was looking for someone else to be a change-maker, the example, the leader. But then I thought, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be the one to reach out my hand to help others?” BOLDforce is working to develop recurring events and ways for allies to get involved.  The pandemic has been traumatic for many this past year and we saw a lot of allies at Salesforce step up and become more engaged. A lot of folks raised their hands and said, “I want to help.” And we don’t want that to die down. We want it to be ongoing, so we’re finding ways to engage our network of allies with more information. We recently had an amazing event with The Little Timmy Project, which is a local organization that provides resources to moms and babies in need in Indianapolis, Indiana. We focused on Black maternal health, why Black women are experiencing higher mortality rates than other women during childbirth, and how to advocate for yourself, not only when you’re having a baby but  in health care in general. We also partnered this summer with BOLDForce DC on “Coding our Future Summer Tech Camp.” Twenty kids from the Indianapolis community attended this virtual STEM camp to learn about coding and hear from professionals and entrepreneurs in the tech industry. This is a recurring opportunity for young children to get involved early so that when they go to college, they’re already thinking about a potential career in tech. What’s the best career advice you have ever received? The best career advice I ever received was to not try to be like other people. When you want to be a top performer, you look at other people, and you think you should mimic exactly what they are doing. But that’s not necessarily how you’re going to be successful.  Find a way to amplify your strengths instead of focusing on what you lack. I’m a lifelong learner and there are always opportunities to continue learning and growing. — CherilynnChief Learning Officer, SIS Cherilynn Castleman, Global Sales Keynote Speaker/Trainer/Executive Coach, has been a sales executive for 20+ years. With her natural talent for teaching and a drive to sell, Cherilynn uses her skills to coach and train other executives and sales professionals. Author of What’s in the C.A.R.D.S.? 5 Post-Pandemic Sales Strategies Sistas in Sales, LLC (SIS) is a community where women of color in sales can network, advance their careers, and most important, find sisterhood. SIS offers events, a thriving Slack community with companies hiring now, and career coaching services. Learn more about Sistas In Sales membership here, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Sponsored by Salesforce.Learn more about joining Salesforce

#StrongerTogether: Following Your Passions

Monica Roberts, Strategic Accounts Director – Enterprise Sales at Salesforce Following her unique combination of talents and inner passions, Monica Roberts started her college journey with pre-med aspirations, ultimately graduating from Baylor with a degree in finance. Continuing a pursuit of medicine because of her love for helping people, she achieved a Master’s in Healthcare Administration. I asked Monica to tell me a little about her sales career, her journey, how she landed at Salesforce, and what advice she would share with others about success in sales. In your college days, you considered a career in medicine. How did you decide to enter the tech industry and how did you pursue a leadership role once there? I’ve taken a path less traveled in comparison to my peers; however, it’s a path that has allowed me to follow common threads of passion for people, process, and change. While pursuing my Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, I came across an opportunity to be an auditor, which gave me the ability to travel and explore various processes in different departments. This job allowed me to spend time abroad and change scopes of work quickly, but the way I was received as an auditor didn’t really jive with my personality. During this time, I advanced my accounting knowledge through the achievement of an MBA and due to my skill set in process analysis and improvement, I was selected by an IT manager to move into a Business Analyst (BA) role. This is where I was introduced to Salesforce and the value it and its ecosystem bring to the table. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to IT Service Manager, leading a team of BAs and supporting the entire front office. After that, I joined one of the top consulting firms in the world and was then recruited by Salesforce as a solution engineer. After 3+ years in the role of SE, I made the transition to Strategic Accounts Director.  Through many transitions, I availed myself to the possibility of change; however, sales was something that I never set out to do. My passions and hope to drive change, guided me here. I am passionate about Salesforce, passionate about the solutions that we can bring to drive value for my customers, and passionate about my customers. I tell my customers all the time how user-friendly Salesforce is: “This is easy configuration, ‘click not code,’ and if I can figure this out, you can too.” One of the reasons I am enthusiastic about Salesforce is because I understand the benefits from the customers’ perspective. That’s one reason I accepted a role in sales for the company—because I know it works! I like to think that my story could be inspirational to people who are on a certain career path, like finance, and realize, “This is not for me.” I love numbers. I always thought that I was going to be an accountant. I realized the role I was playing in accounting, as an auditor, did not allow me to be seen in the best light by customers as they would hide or shut down when I approached them. It wasn’t a fit with my personality and didn’t really provide the opportunity to be innovative—which my role in sales does.  What do you love most about working in sales and what advice would you give to someone considering a career change? Being customer-facing, being innovative, and working with a team are all aspects of sales that I love. Look at what you’re doing now, and consider how the different aspects of your current or past roles are transferable: process, people, interactions, or improvements. Examine how you can transform that into the career that you want. Too often we get stuck in the lane that we’re in and assume it’s the only way that we can go forward. You demonstrate two important traits for success in sales: being open to risk and determination. How do these two traits help you succeed? You certainly must adjust your level of risk aversion in sales because of the compensation model. It’s important to move at a fast pace and pivot on a dime based on customer decisions or changes in the customer’s environment. In my role as a Strategic Accounts Director, I have leadership and coordination responsibilities and also stay on top of customer accounts and am always working to deliver value. I’m incentivized to make a difference in sales. Having that drive and willingness to get up every morning and say, “Okay, I’m willing to dig a little deeper in order to make something happen,” is essential to my success, my team’s success, and my customers’ success. Listen to your customer. Sometimes you get so caught up in the narrative that you are working, but if you’re not listening to your customer, then there’s a total disconnect. You’re wondering why you lost the deal, but much of that hinges on whether you were truly listening and what you were actually listening for. At the end of the day, were you able to respond to their concerns in the right manner? What is the best career advice you ever received? I regularly connect with one of my mentors, Bret Taylor, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Salesforce. I recently expressed concerns about being afraid to ask for recognition or compensation. One thing he said was, “Monica, don’t ever apologize for wanting to be compensated for work that you’re doing and for the value you’re bringing to a company.” I responded, “I don’t want you to think that I’m money hungry. I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate where I am.” But in that moment, I recognized that as a Black woman, like many others, I had been indoctrinated into this mindset of just appreciating opportunity. That’s why I am proud to work at a company that is committed to equal pay for equal work, conducting an annual audit to account for any potential discrepancies. Another of my

#WantMore: Knowledge Is Power, So Keep Learning

Meet Ranjitha Raghunathan, Commercial Account Executive at GongInterviewed by Florence Madenga “Find your own personal board of directors” On The Pandemic For many people, a global pandemic may look like the worst time to be starting a new job at a new company. For Ranjitha Raghunathan, her first two months at Gong have encompassed some of the best teamwork she’s experienced in a workspace, even without the “space.” At a time where professional relationships are being tested, Ranjitha is thriving. “Obviously we have all been remote and I haven’t met many of them personally,” she says of her team and colleagues. But “they’ve been super helpful. And I think Gong as a tool and a platform itself actually helps me become a better salesperson every day. I couldn’t be happier.” As a commercial account executive, Ranjitha works with smaller companies — this means the size is anything from one employee to 250. The “small and mid-sized business” (SMB) space requires a lot of cold calling, identifying exciting business prospects, and building relationships. It means understanding priorities, fit, and roles — the ones people say they hold, as well as the unspoken concerns, values and responsibilities. While much of this comes naturally to Ranjitha, what made her career transition so painless is that within the first month in her role, she participated in Gong’s mentorship program, which encourages employees to “reach out to anyone to get some help.” She did just that. Ranjitha found herself “leaning a lot on teammates and colleagues” that have quickly turned into friends. She describes this culture as “feedback forward,” a part of the #NoSugar Operating Principle, which fosters an environment where everyone can improve daily and own their own way of selling. Employees are encouraged to be direct, speak their mind, and expect the same from their peers. On Trying Again Ranjitha’s journey to Gong has been two years coming. The first time she applied for a position there, she did not get the job. “I was not qualified by any means to get that job,” she says. But that didn’t mean she stopped. She honed her skills at Salesforce as a new business account executive, and then an SBE account executive, where she consistently outperformed expectations and was a peer-elected team lead. Meanwhile, before she applied a second time at Gong, she combed through much of the content the company was generating, from podcasts and YouTube Video content, to reading more about the industry. “So when they reached out to me, it was a fangirl moment, really,” she says. She breezed through the interview process and found herself at Gong, now as a commercial account executive.    Like her arrival to Gong, Rajintha’s arrival to sales has not been linear. It has culminated in journeys across the Atlantic, and interests that she’s gleaned at several other moments in her life. Seven years ago, she moved to the U.S. from India. Prior to that, she was a software engineer, and quickly realized engineering was not something she was passionate about. She then worked for a small wind energy startup where she got into sales, business development, and realized: “Well, it’s like I’ve been doing sales all my life and I just had no idea.” Additionally: “I firmly believe that you don’t technically need to have a title to be in sales,” she says. “I was always selling. You just don’t know what you’re selling, or you could be selling yourself every day.” On Not Selling Out But how do you “sell yourself” without…well, selling yourself? On applying to a sales job (which can be meta because the process itself is an exercise in sales), Ranjitha recommends sticking to who you are. “I think specifically for women of color, it’s important that you own it,” she says “If you’re going to be different, you’re going to sound different. You’re going to look different. And that’s what brings your unique perspective to your job. That’s what makes you stand out and really hone in on those skills.” Here, Ranjitha is speaking from experience. As a brown woman in sales, she has been asked to “tone it down,” to “not be so direct,” so “soften the blow” and adhere to more stereotypical feminized and racialized modes of behavior in the workspace. “I was never a fan of that because that’s not who I am,” she says. “If I was going to take so long to write an email, she says, as has been recommended by some to “tone down” her approach, “the email I’m sending out is really not something I would even say.” So instead of finding another voice, Ranjitha would rather spend time finding her own. “The minute you start imitating someone else, you are going to forget it, you’re going to hate it, and nobody wants that,” she says. “And just to think, you know, the challenges that come with being a woman in sales and in such a male dominated field is a job by itself.” It is because of this reason, and the notion that sales as a career can be “super controlled,” that well-intentioned close friends and family, knowing her personality, warned her not to enter sales. She knew things like “having an accent” and coming from a different country would mean dealing with prejudice. Dealing with this has required having more open and honest conversations around diversity and inclusion. “People don’t realize that we’re not stupid,” Ranjitha says. “Someone says, ‘hey, don’t be in sales.’ Literally, the first question that comes to mind is ‘Why? Do you think I sound different?’ That’s my first question. It’s unfortunate that it’s common, but I think thankfully that times are changing.” On Finding Your Own Personal Board of Directors What has also helped that change is other women supporting each other. “I think people who I admire the most are people who care, like they really really care, and not just say they care,” she says. “There’s a big difference between the two, and people don’t really realize that.”

#WantMore: Viewing Challenges as Opportunities

Meet Gabrielle Mazaltarim, Senior Account Executive at Gong “The only difference between you and the person that got the job, is that that person applied for the job. Just do it!” On Not Being “Qualified” When Gabrielle Mazaltarim first heard about Gong, she knew it was going to be something special. Not as a fleeting thought, or just something to say later in an interview about working there, but with conviction. She even stated it out loud to her partner: “This is going to change the world.” At the time, she was not working for the company. She was a sales representative on a team elsewhere, at a small startup company. They were trying out the Gong product and she wanted to be a part of it, from the inside. The time to do just that came a few months later, and like anyone serious about joining a company they admire, Gabrielle looked for what positions that company had available. The first obstacle revealed itself immediately. The positions she was interested in required at least three to four years of experience. She had just over eight months under her belt. “I’m like, well, I’m underqualified,” she pauses. “Let’s apply.” In the process, she spoke to a talent coordinator, who, as she recalls, was trying to qualify her out. “I thought to myself, I’m not going to take no from a guy that would never be able to say yes to me for the job itself. So I said, hey, how do I get in touch with the recruiter? And I put time in with the recruiter. I went through a couple of interviews and I got the job.” While Gabrielle has been working at Gong since 2019, and is a mentor to plenty of women in sales within the company beyond, she has kept pushing and working towards what she thinks she is capable of. On her responsibilities, she shares that while she is expected to book about six or so meetings per month outside her media brothers, her goal is to book at least eight to 10 meetings, as well as to hit one hundred and fifty percent of her quota in the next six months. “I had a really good first half of the year that I was really, really excited about,” she says. “And my goal for the remainder of the year is to exceed that in the next half of the year, which will be really, really difficult.” She is also working towards a promotion. “I think I can get there,” she adds. On Getting There Her tenacity and confidence comes from her early years working in a variety of positions seemingly far from what she is doing now, from waiting tables as a teenager six months after moving to the US from Lebanon, at fourteen. What started as a way to earn a little money, understand the culture in a new country, and learn English, turned into a lesson in people-watching and sales experience that still serves her well today. “I learned how people behave and was able to customize my personality,” she says. From there, she went to California State University, San Bernardino, and graduated with a double major in international business and Arabic. “The intent was I was going to be this international business woman working in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and traveling the world because I speak Arabic and English,” she says. But she also didn’t want to be “one of those people that graduates and doesn’t have a job lined up.” Her first job search took her to recruiting, not quite all the way “sales” yet, or anywhere geographically near Lebanon, but still critical to the skills she accrued to do sales, like the ability to sell her potential and leverage her network effectively. “One of my good friends that studied at Berkeley told me ‘hey, I have a friend that went to this recruiting firm called AppleOne,” she says. On Making the Calls Gabrielle walked confidently into the opportunity. “I met with him in Pasadena and they were trying to give me jobs like “Administrative Assistant Receptionist,” she says. “I thought, that doesn’t sound like my alley. So I asked him, how much money do you make? I started asking questions like, ‘What do you do day to day?’” She also asked if she could get connected to someone on his team, and after meeting with his manager, said they would call in a few days. A week passed with no follow-up. “So I called them back and I said, hey, I’m going to come in. I went into the interview as if I was interviewing for a receptionist job.” The job she landed on was not working at the reception, but a mix of recruiting, sales, and a little bit of finance. “And the recruiting part was interesting,” she says. “I didn’t like it. I tend to like to work with businesses more than one on one consumers. So then I rallied towards the sales part of it and I enjoyed making cold calls.” She demonstrates just how good she is at making those cold cold calls: “My strategy was I go to Indeed, in Los Angeles, I look at the job ad and I’m like ‘Hey Florence, this is Gabrielle with Apple One. I know you’re busy, I see you’ve been looking for somebody for H.R. Director. I just met with Carolyn, who’s had three years experience. She knows ADP, blah, blah, blah. Let me come by, introduce her.’ I did that and I got really good at it and I liked it.” This hot passion for cold calling was also ignited in high school — Gabrielle remembers the days when people still called to find out if the school bus was delayed. “I would be panicking, calling,” she says, to her sister’s annoyance. “I just kind of got used to it and I was like, it’s OK if you act like there are people on the other call.” Gabrielle credits all

#WomenOfWonder: You Can’t See What You’re Learning Until You Come Out The Other Side

Meet Andrea Bibbs: Vice President, Ad Sales Marketing & Studio Operations, WarnerMedia GroupWritten by Myrna L. DatilusSpotlight Blogger, SIS Andrea Bibbs is the VP of Ad Sales Marketing & Studio Operations at WarnerMedia Group and has an impressive resume that details exactly how she has worked so diligently over the past two decades to get where she is today. During our conversation I was able to learn how many things we had in common, including our West Indian cultural backgrounds, and how driven Andrea is about getting to the next level in her life both professionally and personally. As teenagers from Guyana, Andrea’s parents moved to London separately, and when they met one another for the first time in the early-’70s, they decided to migrate to Canada together a few years later in the mid’70s. That is where the story of Andrea Harry Bibbs begins. Andrea is a Guyanese- Canadian woman who prides herself on her cultural identity and embraces the values that have been instilled in her from her parents. Andrea is also “a wife and a mother to two amazing young children; my oldest is my 8 yr old daughter Bailey, and my youngest is my 5 yr old son, Braeden.” Since the children were born in the USA, and surrounded by American culture, Andrea and her husband, Trey, find that it’s important that they learn about their Canadian and Guyanese roots and history. “So it’s just, I think, similar to sort of what my parents did. They didn’t want us to lose that piece. And I feel really, it’s funny how life works. It’s like such a circle because I feel like the same thing. I don’t want them to lose that piece of who they are.” Based on all I have learned about Andrea in such a short amount of time, I am sure the children will never lose but only gain more of who they are in this world, just like their mother did.  In the first Wonder Woman movie, the love interest of Wonder Woman, Steve, made a strong statement,  “It’s not about what you think you deserve, it’s about what you believe,” and it made me ask Andrea about her own life’s values and beliefs. I want to know how exactly they help her to reach the level of success she has in both her personal and professional life, and she simply responds, “One of my core values is leading with kindness. That’s something that my parents would always talk about.” Kindness and an added core value of relationship building is what has helped Andrea remain and thrive at WarnerMedia for about 21 years now. In 1998, Andrea started off as an Intern at CNN at the age of 21, right before graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. A year after she graduated, she was offered an opportunity to come back to work for them. “I think that’s something that has never really changed about me. In this business of media and sales, it can be a really cut throat, competitive type business. I just never changed who I was in terms of being kind first of all, being empathetic, but really focusing on relationships and making sure that I was respecting folks just as what I wanted in return.” Andrea prides herself on forging genuine relationships, and not ones based only on ‘what can you do for me? How can you get me ahead?’ Andrea always kept a ‘how can I help you?’ approach with most if not all the relationships she has built throughout this business. Nonetheless, Andrea learned that being a kind, empathetic person doesn’t always go hand in hand with being a leader and moving up the corporate ladder. “I feel like I’ve just always led from a place of trying to be helpful while focusing on the right type of relationships.” This approach may have had her go up the corporate ladder at a slower pace, but by getting to where she is now by remaining true to herself and not stepping on any necks to get there, has helped her to be a true advocate of authenticity & integrity within the sales industry. That one trip to Atlanta right before graduating college, led Andrea in 2000 (2yrs after graduating), to work at CNN/Sports Illustrated as a liaison between their website and on-air shows. She then went on to CNN.com in 2002 as an Associate Producer where she also served as a liaison between the site and shows, as well as working on interactive content for the site. “Working closely with the TV network and the site, again, was through relationships. I’d only been there for like a year and a half, but I think I had forged really great relationships where we kind of knew that something might happen with the network and the person who was then the lead of CNN digital whom, I’ve worked with before, said if anything happens to come find him….as soon as we found out that the network was shutting down, I reached out to him and I got a job there within a couple of weeks.” To prove Andrea’s consistent message of relationship building, a fun fact about her is that almost every single job she has had at Warner Media has been through the relationships she has built these 20 + years that she can hopefully expand a bit more of. Being a people person and genuinely helping people will always keep Andrea at a place of success, because she has proven herself to be time after time again, a very selfless person; and from my own experience, those types of people make it very far in life. Another part of the first Wonder Woman movie which I loved so much, is when Diana realized her own strength while catching her own fall off the side of a building; she recognized one of her superpowers while in that moment and then she became unstoppable. That scene made me wonder, when did Andrea realize her own strength and that she too, was unstoppable? Andrea responded surprisingly by saying, “I’m still trying to find that strength.

#WomenOfWonder: You Are Stronger Than You Believe

Meet Ebony Moore: Vice President, Linear & Digital Account Service, WarnerMediaWritten by Myrna L. DatilusSpotlight Blogger, SIS Ebony Moore is the VP of Linear & Digital Account Service at WarnerMedia Group and has been with the company for the past 26 years. Throughout her time at WMG, Ebony has witnessed the company transition from Turner Media to WarnerMedia Group and is currently going through a reorganization within the company now. “We’ve been going through this transformation and this reorganization as of November last year, so my role has changed a little bit in the last seven to eight months. I now oversee Linear only, Planning and what we call Advanced Audience Solutions, which is basically targeting linear television by trying to reach very specific advertisers so there’s no waste in the impressions that we deliver.” Along the way, Ebony has learned a lot about herself and the business, and during our great conversation, I learned how what she has experienced over the years has shaped her into the wonderful woman she is today. Ebony was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA by parents that instilled in her core values by taking her to church every Sunday, and ensured that she knew the value of education. She graduated with her Bachelors in Communications Media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a school that she initially didn’t want to attend, but since she was admitted under a full scholarship, her dad convinced her to give it a try. Her Philly pride continued to permeate off the screen as she speaks highly of where she is from and what drives her to keep succeeding at WMG, but like any story of success, it comes with its challenges, so I became more intrigued about her story the more she shared some of the trials she has faced as a black woman in the media/ad sales world. Since we are remaining with the Wonder Woman theme for this blog series, I chose to ask Ebony similar questions as asked to her colleague and friend, Andrea Bibbs. The love interest of Wonder Woman, Steve, made a strong statement, “It’s not about what you think you deserve, it’s about what you believe,” and it made me also ask Ebony about her own life’s values and beliefs. Ebony shared, “…it’s gotta be faith over fear. Fear is just the unknown, but fear and doubt can kill.” This question allowed Ebony to recall a time or two in her career when her faith was challenged, and she had to be reminded of her values and beliefs. She shared a time when she was being overlooked for a job position because her boss did not want to lose her as an admin and was intentionally blocking her from getting promoted. Ebony states, “I went to the hiring manager and I said, I know you’re interviewing other people, so you’re not going to choose me? What could I have done differently so that I know for the next time?..and he told me you didn’t do anything wrong. He said, your boss wants to keep you. And so that’s why I’m still interviewing. I was like, okay, well, that’s a different conversation.” Ebony took that moment as an opportunity to talk to her boss and told her how much she really wanted this new role as she didn’t want to be a career admin.  She asked her boss something I would’ve never thought to ask, “so how can I help you make this transition work for you as well as work for me?” Ebony ended up performing dual jobs for three months while her boss was interviewing replacements, and although Ebony does not agree that it was fair for her to jump through hoops to secure her next role, she thinks that it “builds a fortitude in my need to speak up or just sit back and let things happen to you.” Due to this situation, Ebony found her voice, and she emphasizes, “You have to have the courage over your convictions…it’s just faith over fear, reminding myself that God’s got it, even when I stumble, even when I fall, and even when I veer off the path that He has set for me…, He’s still walking beside me. He’s still got me.” WOW. You wouldn’t know it if you saw her, but Ebony turned 50 this year.  She recalls saying to herself what most of us say as we approach a milestone age, “I’m going to have it all together. I’m going to have it all figured out,” but Ebony quickly realized that what is constant in life is change and opportunity for growth, and she has come to terms with that. She also posed a question that I am still pondering on, “Imagine if you just got to a place in life where you’ve just arrived?” My question after that is, ‘then what?’ Exactly. I segued into referencing when Diana“Wonder Woman,” found her strength; I needed to know when that moment happened for Ebony.  She shared that she found that moment at a low point in her career. “One of my employees had doctored an invoice that went to an agency. She literally sat with paper, scissors, tape, and cut out units to put them on an invoice to show an agency that units had aired that had not aired. I got blamed for it. Somehow it came out at the end of the story that I knew that she was doing this, that I sanctioned her doing this, that I gave her the green light to do this, which of course is not true and completely made up.” I had to ask if the woman who fabricated everything was a white woman, and as you may have guessed, she was. Due to this incident, Ebony, her business practice, and her expenses got audited, people around her were being interviewed, and the whole premise of this was really to dig up dirt on her and to figure out a way to terminate her. “I just remember the intense scrutiny that I was being audited and that I just didn’t want to be at Turner anymore.” Ebony says she remembers