When I got the inspiration to start this column, I had a little checklist for the calibre of professionals I wanted to showcase on this platform. Cassandra is one person that ticks those boxes effortlessly!
Cassandra is a technology professional who has worked for multinationals within and outside the technology space like Microsoft and KPMG. She currently works with SAP as a Commercial Sales Executive in Spain. She has a Bachelors degree in Management Information Systems from Covenant University.
In this feature, Cassandra shares with us interesting details about her professional journey, how she was able to overcome the imposter syndrome as a young African professional in a global organization as well as some triumphs she’s had on her journey so far.
I bet you’ll feel as gingered as I did after hearing from her. Enjoy!
You’ve worked for 2 of the most well respected organizations in the tech eco-system across the world; Microsoft and SAP. How did you get the jobs?
I knew I wanted to work in the technology industry. However, my interests were not in the technical aspects but rather the business end of things as there are many different areas in the industry. During my undergraduate degree, I completed some certifications which led me to work at a technology partner organization for my 6 months internship program.
Post-graduation, I applied for a graduate internship at one of the best technology companies after seeing the ad on Facebook, which I fortunately, got into.
Sometime later, I was sent a job posting by a friend for a technology sales job with training opportunities in California. I did not apply the first time because I didn’t believe I would get in, but the second time there was an opening I took my shot because I wanted to have a more industry aligned sales technology job.
In both cases, I completed face to face interviews and I’d say research, research, research was definitely a plus for me!
In your current role as a Commercial Sales Executive, what does a day at work entail?
This role brings a new twist to how we (SAP) do business because it is based in Europe while focusing on the African region. I work in technology sales so essentially it’s about finding new ways to reach potential customers, understanding their current business challenges and how our solutions can help address these challenges. It’s a role that entails a lot of learning, unlearning and relearning in both my professional and personal life coupled with the realities of adjusting to living in a new country with a different culture as well as language.
I’ve heard a few times that no matter how much you love your job, there will always be tasks that come with it that you don’t enjoy. Is this true for you? What’s that work task that you absolutely dread?
I absolutely dread waiting! In my role, I have to engage with different teams internally and externally to reach set business goals. At certain points, all you can do is wait and I find that to be the most nerve wrecking situation; times when you are expecting feedback on a particular decision to know if you were successful or not.
Did you ever feel the “Imposter Syndrome” when you first started your career? How did you build confidence in yourself as a professional?
This is still work in progress for me. It’s a bit funny because I work in sales and my day to day activities involve convincing potential customers about the value of our solutions which I do pretty well. However, when I have to talk about myself, I suddenly become uncomfortable. There are times when I feel like I need to do better. I feel that way almost every day. The need to improve, you know to be better than the previous year. I’d say the first step to overcoming this really, is understanding who you are and what your strengths are. Honestly, this is easier said than done but it’s something that definitely needs to be done. Focus on those strengths. Get mentors!! I think one thing I’ve had right since the beginning of my career is I’ve been surrounded by people who believe very strongly in me. They see more than I see in myself sometimes and they push me to be better. But the most important thing is, you believing in yourself and your abilities.
Another way to help build confidence is also by building a vision board; visualizing who you want to be and focusing on that picture.
How do you keep your energy level and passion for your job high, particularly when the pressure comes?
I work in a high-pressure environment and I like to think I work very well under pressure as in those times I feel most energized. However, there are just sometimes when I feel lethargic about work and I think the bigger challenge is staying motivated in times when things are slow. I take a look back and remember why I decided to take this path. What my goals were and if I’ve accomplished those goals. Then I evaluate what my new goals are and create steps to accomplish them.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The biggest highlight of my career so far is assisting an African conglomerate with over 6000 employees to achieve their objectives to transform their human resources business processes. This has become a business case reference for new hires on innovative strategies to do technology sales in my company.
For people reading this, who aspire to cop global jobs like you have, how would you advise them to position themselves for such opportunities?
Believe in yourself! Believe you have something to add and go for it. Look for people that have done something similar in your industry or at that company. For my present job, I watched YouTube videos regarding people’s experiences in the role and saw a Nigerian in one of the videos.
I added him on LinkedIn and sent him a message explaining my career goals, what I was looking out for and sought his advice on what to expect in my next set of interviews. He was extremely helpful and decided to recommend me for the role after our chat. Be proactive about what you want!
What’s the most impactful career advice you’ve received so far?
The most important career advice I’ve gotten so far is “work to live, don’t live to work”. At this stage in my career, I spend more time questioning myself about who am I outside this job and what legacy I want to have. Love your job no doubt and give it your very best. However, don’t forget to live! What will be your legacy?
Did you see how she was able to cop that job at SAP? That is what I call networking skills of life!!! Truth is these fantastic opportunities we seek will not fall on our laps. Cassandra has shown that young African professionals can thrive anywhere provided you research to find out what it takes and do the needful!
Do Let me know your thoughts on this feature!