Brittany Benson: Rachel, could you share a little bit about your role at Sage ?
Rachel Seymour: I'm based in the UK and I work for the medium segment where I'm doing two roles at the moment. I'm head of product and commercial, but I'm also overall VP of medium segment. I'm responsible for our customers, our revenue number, sales, but also our go to market, how we sell, and how we position to our customers. The end to end sales journey sits under my remit.
Brittany: Can you share a little bit about how you got involved in the world of technology ?
Rachel: I studied accounting at university and when I left, I really wanted to follow my passion, which is sport. I went and worked in sports PR and spent about 18 months having the best time. We did lots of events and every weekend I was at different sporting fixture and it was brilliant. Then I worked out quite quickly that separating your passion and work is probably not a bad idea. I went back to my roots of accountancy and became a corporate finance advisor. I spent about five years advising companies in the tech industry on capital raising mergers and acquisitions and slowly transitioned to working for software companies. I've worked for a number of different SaaS companies over the years, and there’s nowhere else that you want to be when you look at the fast-changing evolution of technology.
Having a finance background certainly helped make the transition into technology because you can approach things with different lenses. A good understanding of the market is always a really interesting way to come into technology and understanding what businesses go through before you work on the supplier end. I can understand quite well what companies are actually dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
Brittany: That's a very unique perspective that you bring. You talked about approaching things with a different lens. Can you share an obstacle or a challenge that in the past that you encountered ?
Rachel: A few years ago, I was made redundant, which is not that unusual in the industry. High growth can sometimes come with high risk. It's tough when you have that kind of decision forced on you. You feel out of control. It's nothing that you've done. The whole business was shut down. Those obstacles often work out for the best. I had a new, more senior job with a bigger company within a few weeks. What it taught me is those knock backs that actually force you out of your comfort zone are the times when you start learning about yourself. The second that you stay comfortable I think is when you become stagnant. A good balance of uncomfortable is how you move forward.
Some advice that I was given early on in my career is that the first day that you go to work and you don't learn anything new, it's time to leave. You should always be evolving, always be learning. And sometimes with that comes a situation that you perhaps wouldn't have asked for, but you do hopefully get the better outcome once you get through it.
Brittany: What key traits do you possess or think that others should possess if they want to be a really successful leader ? What has shaped your leadership style ?
Rachel: I think being a genuine human being is important. Kindness and compassion don’t make you weak or a pushover. You can still be a strong, respected leader. I think it’s important to understand that at the end of every interaction you have is a human being that's just trying to do their best. I try to use balance and fairness. You can still be respected without being hard or harsh. I've worked for female leads in the past that clearly felt that the only way to compete with men was to be really stern. There's plenty of other ways to be respected by your team and by your peers.
I try to consider other viewpoints, to really think about the challenges that someone might be approaching on the other side, and just recognizing that other people's motivations might be different to mine. But we're all trying to do the right thing by our customers.
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.