Establishing Your Career Path: Lessons Brought to You by Databricks’ Women in Sales

Women in Sales (WIS) is a global employee networking group (ERG) at Databricks dedicated to helping women accelerate their careers in sales. On October 13th, 2020, WIS hosted Heather Akuiyibo, VP of Commercial and Mid Market Sales for North America, Shelby Ferson, Sr. Commercial Sales Manager for Australia & New Zealand, and Jerry Weitzman, SVP of Enterprise Sales for the Americas, for a fireside chat. During the chat, the leaders shared how they leveraged the concepts of ownership, sponsorship and action to accelerate their careers and provided guidance on how everyone can apply the same approach to their own professional pursuits.

See below for a synopsis of the topics discussed by the panel and watch the video recording that follows to experience the entire program.

  • Ownership: Your destiny is in your own hands, and you must take it upon yourself to seek out the guidance necessary to make the career decisions that work best for YOU. If there is an area that you are interested in, or a mentor/sponsor has identified as an opportunity to develop, take ownership and put yourself in a position to grow your skillset with respect to it. Use your organizational chart as a resource, and reach out to a potential sponsor or mentor through an informal Slack message or even a more formal email. Be creative and use social settings, such as a virtual coffee or after work “happy hour” to build these connections. As companies develop more of a remote presence, you will need to find new ways to recreate the traditional “in the hallway” chats.
  • Sponsorship: Having one or more people who are invested in your professional growth can be the key to developing and unlocking new career opportunities. Building these sponsor relationships, both within and outside your department, across your organization is vital to your growth. Developing strong relationships with your sponsors, through conversations and other activities, will give you the champions and knowledge needed to gain access to future opportunities. As Shelby suggested in her comments, which you can listen to in full below, you need to identify and cultivate your “Go Team”–which ideally would consist of one person, who you know is invested in your success and that you can count on, from every team with which you interact.
  • Action: Take accountability and execute your next move. Breaking down goals into small actionable items can help you maintain focus and prevent you from burning out while moving your career forward. Start by mastering your current role and become an expert at everything it involves. Once you’ve mastered your current role, you can then build upon that success with complete confidence in your abilities and knowledge as you progress in your field or even cross-functionally. To master your craft, learn your strengths and weaknesses. Seek out constructive feedback from everyone you work with, to learn how and where you can improve the most. The sooner you get this honest appraisal, the faster you will be able to work towards filling the gaps and reaching the mastery needed to advance to the next level.

Leveraging the three-prong approach of ownership, sponsorship and action can help everyone looking to accelerate and advance their career in the right direction. The WIS mission is to help women working in sales find and accelerate their career paths at Databricks and within the industry through open dialogue, access to internal and external resources and networking events. We understand that building a supportive team around women in the workforce moves the individual as well as the collective forward and drives better results for companies, as reinforced by McKinsey’s study

Watch the recording

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Source: Databricks