Harness the Strengths of Your Diverse Team

Darja Isajeva

How about this for a unique path to a Salesforce career: say no when you’re asked if you’d like to join the company.

You won’t find that advice on any top-ten list of successful job hunting strategies. But when Dublin Salesforce Sales Director Darja Isajeva was first approached by Salesforce Vice President of UK Markets, Niall Brady, that’s exactly what she did. She was flattered but declined.

Darja had just accepted an offer from another large tech company and was moving from Dublin to Amsterdam. Fast forward another year. Now engaged and looking to move back to Dublin in “a year or two,” Darja reached out to Brady via LinkedIn.

“He was very enthusiastic. she said, ‘There’s no open role right now, but just come in and meet the team.’ So I did. We met in February and March. In April I had the offer, which I accepted in May. I started in June 2018. Everything happened so fast! I wasn’t planning on moving back to Ireland that soon, but I was happy to expedite my plans for Salesforce.”

You might have guessed by now that Darja’s perspective on career opportunities is a little off the beaten path.

“I think when people look for opportunities, they often just focus on what the opportunity will give them. But I want to look at what I can give back. Coming from my previous tech background, I knew I could bring something of value to Salesforce, in addition to what I would learn working with a market leader.”


Helping a Customer Succeed — Without a Product

For Darja, coming to Salesforce meant leading a new team. And the team soon encountered a unique challenge.

“I managed real estate as an industry. We met with a new client, and generally our first meeting is used to understand the company’s objective and its product. But there was no product. The company was an idea. It had nothing to sell.”

Not surprisingly, Darja’s first take — perplexed.

“My first reaction was, ‘What are we going to put Salesforce on?’ If you’re not selling any products, what’s the point of managing a database of clients you don’t have?” 

But there was more to this story as Darja discovered. One of her team members — Catherine — shared that the company wanted to build its product on the Salesforce platform, so it could go to market with Salesforce in place. Suddenly, an “aha” moment.

“Then I got it. The company could build its mobile app on our Heroku cloud development platform and do their marketing through our products. Catherine was a super star. She pushed through the idea and we started believing in its potential. She also enlisted the right partners, who spoke to the client as well. The company plans to launch its new real estate product this year. ”

Building a Great Team — Lessons for Leaders

For Darja, the experience with the “product-less” company reinforced her feeling about what leaders must do to create strong, resourceful teams.

“What makes a great leader? We don’t close deals ourselves. We participate. We influence. So, what is it we should contribute?”

This was a topic she and her husband, an engineer at another major tech company, often discussed. They came up with five traits that make a great leader, calling these traits the Five Ms.

  • Mentor
    Mentoring and coaching empowers team members to find their own answers to problems through effective questioning and active listening. 

  • Maximise
    As a leader, you can help individuals identify and maximise their unique skill. Honed and developed, one skill can be enough to achieve great success.

  • Mitigate
    When leaders feel pressure, they shouldn’t pass it on to the team. Their job is to protect the team from its negative effects, while communicating effectively about company-wide issues. They can also “step forward” when there’s trouble and “step back” so the team receives the spotlight for success.

  • Motivate
    Leaders have a responsibility to understand what motivates every person on the team. What makes her or him want to come to work every day, to perform, and to exceed expectations?

  • Meaning
    The last M may be the most important. Studies have shown that meaning is the greatest of all motivators. More than money or acclaim. A team needs to know that what it’s working on is important and aligns with a company’s mission and strategy.

“In the beginning of my career, I underestimated the sessions where we had to develop a mission and a vision. Now I understand their importance. It’s one of the tools that creates meaning, especially in a large organization. No one wants to be a number. People want to know they’re contributing and adding value.”

Darja and team celebrating Halloween at Salesforce Dublin.

Returning to Where It All Began

Darja arrived in Dublin 13 years ago to obtain her Masters Degree. She landed her first tech job while studying. Now, after a brief sojourn to The Netherlands, she’s back — as a newly minted Irish citizen — and couldn’t be happier.

“Since I started here, the whole transformation of what we call the Silicon Docks is amazing. All the big tech companies are in Dublin. It’s just like Silicon Valley, only cosier.”

To learn more about opportunities at Salesforce in Dublin, watch our webinar, “Build an Exceptional Career (and Life!) in Dublin.” A panel of Dublin Salesforce employees, including Darja, discuss their experiences in the company. And, to see what roles are open in Dublin now, visit our careers site.

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