Before beginning her career in sales, Erica Smith developed a taste for healthy, constructive competition not in a different field, but on one. As a competitive soccer player, she was never one to shy away from a challenge. And after sustaining an injury that sidelined any further aspirations she’d had for the sport, Smith came to realize that sales was an ideal arena for someone with her flair for dynamism and goal (or client) scoring.
Of course, one’s potential to win has a lot to do with the quality and connectedness of their team. Which is why Smith says she “couldn’t have been more proud” to join the team at Gartner five years ago.
Now a sales manager for the company’s Global Enterprise Financial Services vertical based remotely out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Smith is able to lead a team that’s dedicated to scoring a set of common goals: namely, the needs of their clients. She describes her standard work day as an incredibly energizing one, saying, “Every day, you learn something new. Every day, you do it alongside your teammates. Every day, you help your customers achieve success.”
Recently, Smith walked us through the ins and outs of her role at Gartner, how she’s able to “choose joy” each day, and what makes the company an exceptional place for women to work.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been a Sales Manager at Gartner the past six months, with 14 years of prior experience in sales as an individual contributor, ranging from working with new logos to large enterprises to global enterprises.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do is set an intention every day of what I choose to feel and what I prioritize to accomplish. The last thing I do is evaluate my progress against my intention and goals and recalibrate for the next day.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
The most interesting aspect of my job is being empowered to help solve our clients’ mission critical priorities. On a daily basis we are at the forefront of transformational change, surrounded by brilliant colleagues, and bound by the mission to enable our customers’ success. I have the immense privilege of coaching and leading exceptional client directors to make this vision a reality.
We have some of the most brilliant minds in the business world working at Gartner, and with that brilliance comes humility. We are rooted in the success of our associates and our clients. Without both, we are nothing.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
In my career, I have always sold something that is intangible: insight. I have had to become exceptional in articulating the business-based outcomes that are possible as a result of leveraging unparalleled insight to make timely decisions. This means finding the intersection between overarching corporate strategy and technical execution. That — combined with my unwavering commitment to my clients’ success and the success of those who surround me — is what defines my ability to be esteemed as a trusted advisor by clients and colleagues alike.
What about outside of work?
Family comes first. My husband and I want our children to see what it looks like when both parents pursue their passions and are rooted in their core values. We make it a concerted effort daily not to achieve “balance,” but rather work-life integration. That means normalizing parenting as well as normalizing our own individual passions. Both my husband and I were collegiate athletes and still value the importance of self-care, mentally and physically. In addition, we believe in enriching our lives through local philanthropy and give back to our community in Charlotte so that the world we nurture around us is a place where our children and their friends, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, can thrive. It’s so incredible to see life through the lens of our children’s experience and to help shape – albeit in a relatively small way – the new world that they will lead together one day.
What are you trying to improve on?
Regulating stressful moments with an intentional practice of gratitude. I know that I am less-than perfect, and I’m so good with that. When I go to sleep, I voice what I’m grateful for and when I wake my mantra is “I choose joy.” It has been so tremendously helpful in navigating life’s stressful moments, both big and small.
What’s your favorite mistake?
My favorite mistake was choosing complacency as a young athlete. I played with some of the most talented soccer players our country has produced but was too ignorant to seek out refinement of specific skills and make incremental gains. I believed I had what I needed to be successful and that was enough. I wasn’t interested in the refinement process and was naïve to think that what got me to a certain point would carry me further towards greater aspirations. Once I had been injured to the point of ending my career, it finally resonated that having a fixed mindset is what would sideline me in all aspects of life. As I navigated my early career, I decided to humble myself and seek growth through recognizing that there is no limit to what we can learn or how we can grow. I consistently sought out mentors like 1:1 coaches and received constructive feedback that would help me grow immensely.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Where it all began — my first gig out of college ended up being in sales for a business insight organization, and I haven’t looked back. I believe my spirit and experience in having been a competitive athlete, who at that time studied the business of sport, refined my competitive nature with the business acumen to help clients solve their toughest challenges. This journey and experience led me to Gartner, and I couldn’t be more proud.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Every day, you learn something new. Every day, you do it alongside your teammates. Every day, you help your customers achieve success.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
“Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown. I’m immensely connected to Brene’s work, which is rooted in vulnerability through all of her research and writing. She suggests that “if we are brave enough often enough, we will fail — this is physics of vulnerability.” For me, this tells us that we are not perfect (and that’s okay). We will have hard situations and fierce conversations but so long as we are clear – and vulnerable – we and those around us will come out the other side more evolved than those who practice an armored leadership that’s rooted in fear and shame.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Less of a piece of advice and more of a rally cry: “Every day, we break records.” As a former athlete, I live for this. It’s the belief that incremental gains lead to exponential growth. If you’re humble enough to realize that even the greatest performers — whether they be athletes, artists, chefs, you name it — work tirelessly to refine their craft, then you, too, can employ the same mindset to grow until your last day on this Earth. Insatiable curiosity and an unrelenting thirst for continuous improvement is what drives me daily.
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