Ananya Ananth grew up in Bangalore, attending five schools across three cities over 12 years. Her father’s job kept the family moving so she learned to be social at a young age. Ananya very nearly took a career path into finance and investment banking but working on a sales pitch in an early job ignited a love of sales, which she has pursued with a passion. Ananya tells her story to Kari Scheidt.
 
I did my undergrad education in finance and investment. I was very intrigued by investment banking, so I interned with Goldman Sachs and worked with an affiliate company of Union Bank of Switzerland post-undergrad. While I was there, I had a chance to be a part of a sales pitch and absolutely loved the idea of selling and marketing.

While working at the affiliate, I was on the mergers and acquisitions teams for the healthcare sector. I made company profiles for potential acquisition targets and was tasked with trying to sell the idea of acquiring a company to other companies.

I remember enjoying that so much compared to number crunching and valuations, which is what I spent most of my time doing. So I decided I needed a Master’s in Sales and Marketing because that’s where I saw my career developing.

I got the job from Salesforce as a campus hire from my school, although at the time, I was in the process of being recruited by another company. Since I hadn’t yet received my offer letter, I could still interview with other companies. My placement coordinator encouraged me to attend a Salesforce information session, so I did. I really liked the presentation. It laid out a fast growth path and showed what company life was like with photos and videos. I thought, “What’s the harm; I’ll just sit for an interview.” Then I made it to the next round of interviews, and the next.  After the third interview, they told me that same day I was in! I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten in.

First, Salesforce had someone who was an alumnus of the university where I did my MBA. And she was very honest and genuine. She said Salesforce was a great place to work and that working there had helped her grow and evolve as a person.

I was looking for that kind of a place. Because you think your capabilities are X, but you want to be in a place that recognizes they could be 3x or 4x greater. I recognized Salesforce was that kind of place.

And all the leaders I spoke with during the interview process were so warm and friendly. It wasn’t so much about what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? It was more conversational - they tried to get to know me as a person and see where I might fit in to the organisation.

Be yourself. See if your core values align with those of the company you’re interviewing for. Enjoy the process; have an open mind; and ensure you get answers to all your queries.

That’s right. At first, I was in a contract role with Salesforce through Kelly Services as a Customer Intelligence Trainee, which is a part of Futureforce, the University programme that hires new grads. After only two months I was fortunate enough to move into a full-time role as a Sales Development Representative (SDR). I spent a year and two months in this role, and before I knew it, had been promoted into a Business Development Representative (BDR) role!

What I have loved about my experience so far, is before I have realised I’m capable, the management team has seen my potential. They have instilled so much confidence in me that I am empowered and inspired to come in and work hard.

The typical duration in the Sales Development Representative role is 12-18 months, so I didn’t expect a promotion into the Enterprise Business Development Rep role, but management said, you can do it and we know it! So, I just jumped in. I was moved from a SDR role straight into an enterprise-level BDR position. For the first three or four days, I wondered if I would be able to do it. But, in a month or two, I knew it was a good decision because the role came naturally to me.

The amount of trust they showed in my capabilities was truly humbling. To be in a workplace where you’re encouraged to get outside your comfort zone and go for a role you may not think you're ready for yet is a great place to be.

The job is very interesting. Every day is different. You can’t wake up thinking you know how the day will go. That’s the exciting part about the job — it feels like a start-up, not an 19-year old company. I can set my own schedule and be creative in this role, which is one of the most exciting things about it.

 
You must be patient and persistent, because you’re working with a finite number of accounts where your goal is to sell them on the value of the Salesforce platform. You will get more noes than yeses. This is different from the SDR role in the sense that there is an element of instant gratification since you’re engaging with inbound leads - people who have already shown an interest in Salesforce. They know what CRM is. They know what our platform could do for their business.  
Put yourself in their shoes. Try to see why Salesforce would make sense for their business. Why will Salesforce help that business be more successful? And make a personal connection with them. When you genuinely show interest in the wellbeing of their company, people are more willing to talk to you. That’s when transformation happens!
I feel very independent and that has given me a lot of confidence. I set up daily/weekly goals and achieving those boosts my morale and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I have met some incredible people who inspire me day in and day out. The amount of knowledge I’ve collected so far is remarkable - the exposure that one gets at Salesforce is something that is so precious and so rare.

Trust and equality. I believe that at the center of every human act, there’s a great deal of trust that defines how you act and react. And that’s why working at Salesforce resonates with me. Because at the core of Salesforce, nothing is more important than the trusted relationships we have with everyone in our Ohana - our customers, partners, communities, and employees.

In terms of equality, Salesforce goes the extra mile to help everyone feel safe and secure and equal. As a woman in a male-dominated field, I feel like I am given equal opportunity and equal resources to succeed. I am also involved with our local Women’s Network, one of our Ohana Groups, or Employee Resource Groups. We even have a Chief Equality Officer, Tony Prophet, who came and talked to our Hyderabad office last year. The fact that we have a Chief Equality Officer speaks volumes about the organization.

Operating in a healthy personal and professional environment and making positive contributions to people's lives. I would love and hope to be a part of transformative change that happens in tech.
Butterfly. Change, joy and colour.