Ever wanted to know more about the people behind your favorite Everyday AI platform? You're in luck — every few weeks, meet some of the humans at Dataiku working to ensure customers and users find success as they systemize the use of data and AI in their organizations. This week, we spoke with three sales leaders: Doreen, RVP Inside Sales EMEA; Natália, RVP UK&I; and Rachel, VP Sales and General Manager Central Europe. We had an open conversation about career paths, software sales, leadership styles, and more.
Read the interview and check out the video below to hear Doreen, Natália, and Rachel's advice for the next generation of female sales leaders.
Natália, Doreen, and Rachel
What made you decide to pursue a career in sales?
Natália: As funny as it is, many of us end up in sales by accident. I personally landed in a sales job right after university and enjoyed it very much, so I stuck around! One thing that I really like is that you pretty much own your business as a franchise. You run your own territory and are able to do what you think is right to develop it and make it grow. Working in sales is very rewarding because you get to see the measurable impact of your efforts for the organization and then get compensated accordingly! As a sales leader, I am also able to combine my passion for psychology and people development, alongside business development!
Doreen: Same thing! I also did not start my career in sales but was attracted to it as it seemed challenging. When you work in sales, everyday is different. You meet new people, you discover new pain points for your prospects and clients, and you need to find new ways to help them solve them. You never stop learning.
Rachel: I’d add to Doreen’s point about meeting new people all the time that working in sales is very much about working with people. I’m a people person and I’m happy to be able to mix psychology with marketing and business expertise on a daily basis.
According to you, what makes working in software sales unique?
Rachel: Actually, I don’t feel like I’m selling software. I think it’s much more than that. The value we bring to our clients is speaking the business language in general and understanding what the business tries to achieve in the end. Dataiku is a platform, but I believe that what we are giving the client is way more than that. We offer them a way to achieve some of their most complex objectives.
Natália: I feel the same way. What may be different with software sales is the level of impact you have. I was working in consulting & advisory before and the impact was different. Here, I see that the scale of the outcomes we produce is much larger. It goes even beyond just our client. Systematizing the use of AI will have an impact on literally everyone, that’s for sure!
Doreen: I agree and I think this is also why it’s so important to work for a company that builds a product you believe in. When I consider joining a company, I first make sure that the product is sustainable and makes a difference.
Sales is often seen as a very competitive environment, how do you feel about this as a female in a male-dominated field?
Doreen: I’m used to it and I think that, even if it’s not your case, you can adapt. It’s not like 30 years ago. Luckily time has changed and, even if it’s far from being perfect, I think that if you are in the right company, with the right culture, you can have the same impact as anyone else.
Rachel: Yes! Here at Dataiku, I really feel like I can be my true self. An example of this is our sales leadership team. They are not acting as a boy’s club which happens too often. A few times in my career I had to force some masculine traits to fit in with the group and here I know it’s not something I need to do to feel heard.
Natália: Of course being in a male-dominated field can be hard, but it’s also a privilege to pave the way for future women leaders. At one point in my career, I was the first female manager in my division — this was an exciting moment, and not just for me. It gave us the opportunity to promote other women and increase diversity over time. I was able to bring a different perspective to the leadership team which benefited the whole division.
We need to be patient but things are indeed changing. In my view this works best when there is intention both at the executive level and the individual level. Dataiku has really focused on this mix. The company is already very diverse and we currently are seeing more and more women take leadership roles across the board. Let’s inspire the next generation and not be afraid to break ground, whether it’s in sales leadership or anything else.
What mistakes have you made along the way and what did you learn from them?
Natália: When I was younger, I thought that you had to be perfect at your job and 100% ready to ask for the next step. I almost missed a promotion because of that and I know many women who made the same mistake. We tend to expect people around us to notice that we are good at our jobs and think about us for new opportunities, but it’s not exactly how things work. If you spend too much time preparing for the next role and never communicate about it, you might wake up when it’s too late. This made me understand I needed to be a little more fierce and more vocal about what I wanted, and to push myself towards growth!
Rachel: This is so true! I think I sometimes underestimated myself and I wish that we, as women, stop doing this. At some point I understood that I should just do things and stop overthinking them and as simple as it seems, it helped me a lot.
Doreen: I couldn’t agree more with you ladies. I’m currently interviewing managers for my team and I’m always unhappy to see that most women are still telling interviewers that one of their weaknesses is their lack of confidence. Men I interview never say this and I think we should stop apologizing for things we don’t even control. I hope that in five years from now I will not hear this anymore.
Feeling inspired by these words? At Dataiku, we are now onboarding exceptional leaders such as Doreen, Natália, and Rachel. We are also enabling each Dataiker to unlock their leadership skills, whether it is with our “Leadership for Everyone” learning program, our Empower ERG, or our various sales and tech enablement trainings. Whether you are a business development representative, a marketing specialist, or a software engineer, we'll do our best to help you grow as you wish and create your own leadership path.