Here’s How I Found Career Growth & Success Through Mentorship as Both a Mentor & Mentee

Sponsored by Nutanix

Kathryn Daugherty

Photo courtesy of Nutanix.

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Nutanix is a unique company with opportunities for growth and promotion that many other organizations don't have,” says Kathryn Daugherty, a part of the company’s Commercial Sales team. “In my case, I interned for three years, supporting the sales organization as an order administrator. I had an incredibly supportive manager and mentor who encouraged my goals of shifting into the sales organization. I interviewed to become a Sales Development Representative, eventually was promoted to become an Inside Account Executive, and then moved into the field as a Commercial Account Manager.”

For Kathryn, mentorship and the support of her managers and colleagues has been instrumental to this career growth. “Every manager I have had at Nutanix has enabled me to be successful in my immediate role while also coaching and mentoring me to further develop and prepare for the next step in my career,” she says.

Not only this, but, “at every step of my career I’ve had mentors and continue to seek mentorship,” Kathryn shares. “When I first started at Nutanix, I sought out initial mentorship from my peers and leaders within my organization. As I developed in the role and my peers were promoted, I started seeking leadership opportunities and soon found myself mentoring some of my teammates who were kick starting their careers. Now, I have regular mentorship sessions with individuals from many different business units. I started as a mentee, and now serve as both a mentee and a mentor.”

To learn more about the power of mentorship to grow your career, read on to see what Kathryn has to say.

How do you approach mentorship?

I personally learn by doing, and I think that's the case for many sellers, like those I mentor. Every day is different; we wear a lot of different hats and, until you're in certain situations, you have no clue how to handle them.

I coach my mentees by encouraging them to master their current role, while also preparing for the next. For those who want to become field reps, I encourage them to start preparing their first call pitch, to practice with their teammates and eventually consultants when they feel ready to pitch externally. I allow them to shadow me on deals so they can see the full sales cycle. I also share the good, the bad and the ugly. I've made countless mistakes and studying our mistakes is important to learn from them. I'm very open when it comes to times I could have handled situations differently and hope that sharing those moments helps others to learn from them as well.

What is your top advice for people who want to become mentors at work?

By definition, mentorship is guidance provided by a mentor with experience. For those looking to become mentors, seek mentorship first and learn from those whom you aspire to emulate. Focus on growing your knowledge, learning from others, volunteering for leadership opportunities, building your brand and building your confidence.

In order to be a mentor, you need to be very confident in the system you've created around yourself to feel comfortable providing someone else with guidance.

Thinking about your career growth, can you identify anything that earmarked you as someone ready for advancement?

I don’t think one specific event or action can make someone ready to take the next step in their career. You’re never “ready” to fully jump into new challenges and unknown circumstances — which is what the world of sales is.

What I think goes a long way in any job function is attitude. Are you someone that views new challenges as a chance to succeed? Are you someone who sees adversity as an opportunity for growth or do you complain? Do you motivate others? Are you passionate about what you do? Does your presence make others want to out-perform? Those kinds of questions are important to ask yourself and reflect on when trying to take the next step in your career, as I think these characteristic attributes are vital to success.

When all these things are in motion and you’re confident in the business outcomes that you’re producing, you’re sure to be a top candidate for that next promotion.

When growing your career and transitioning from an intern to Commercial Account Manager, was there anything that surprised you?

I am surprised daily. My life has changed so much throughout the course of my time at Nutanix. I started with this company when I was 19 years old as an intern in sales operations. We were a privately held company at that time, and now we’re a global, publicly traded enterprise. I had no idea when I committed to an internship in 2015 that this company would change my life in the ways it has.

I’ve had five different roles over almost seven years. When I started I was incredibly shy, and anyone who works with me today probably wouldn’t believe me if I said I used to be shy. When I was in sales operations, I was nervous to even make phone calls, and public speaking was not something I would ever consider.

But, since then, I’ve presented at global conferences to large audiences and speak with hundreds of people a month either presenting Nutanix or networking with industry professionals. I’ve had the opportunity to travel with Nutanix and even move to a new city. I’ve made hundreds of amazing professional connections and countless colleagues who have become incredibly dear friends. The opportunities this career has given me are something I could have never imagined. When you’re open to growth and are passionate about what you do, you’ll be amazed with the opportunities you attract, the person you become and where life will take you.

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