How I Manage Managers and Grow Teams: I’m Unapologetic, Authentic, Empowering and Bold

Sponsored by Autodesk

Jill Joaquin

Photo courtesy of Autodesk.

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May 21, 2024 at 8:6PM UTC

Work-life balance is improved when you have managers who encourage it — both by empowering their teams with the resources they need to fulfill their needs at work and home and through leading by example.

“It is very important to me that my direct reports and my entire team feel that they have the support they need to live a well-balanced, healthy life — when they have this, then they are able to perform at their best in their work life and in their personal life,” says Jill Joaquin, Autodesk’s Director of Sales, EMEA License Compliance. 

Jill recognizes that the definition of work-life-balance varies by person, so she tries to make it a point to understand what a balanced life means to each person who reports to her. This way, she says that she can truly support each of their individual needs. And this is only one of Jill's many pieces of leadership advice.

Jill is an experienced director who built her team of field and inside sales staff (who are responsible for converting software misuse into revenue for Autodesk) into what they are today. “It is an admired team and has garnered so much success over the years,” she says. “There is so much leadership and innovation in this team that I can only be super proud.”

Since building her team, Jill has focused on managing managers. Her day-to-day has changed to being all about giving guidance and direction to managers, empowering them to drive the business with support and advice and working with stakeholders to influence the direction of the business. She took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of this guidance with us!

We caught up with Jill to learn more about her best tips for leaders, how she grew her career and team, her techniques for supporting her team and more. Here’s what she had to say.

Top advice for leaders.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Authentic. I lead with a clarity of who I am as a leader, as a person and what I stand for in business and in life. I know my strengths, and I use these to empower the people around me and to build trust. I am clear about my shortcomings, and I don’t hide them. I am unapologetic, but I do my best to learn from my mistakes and improve.

How did you prove your leadership skills?

I proved myself as a strong leader through the results that I drove with my previous team. I demonstrated (and still do demonstrate) a strong executive presence in front of my team and in front of decision makers. They say that all of the important decisions about your career are being made without you in the room — so, I made sure that the decision makers had the necessary insights and impressions about me to help inform their decisions.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for other women who are moving into or want to move into leadership?

Be very clear about your strengths and how you will leverage these strengths as you move into a leadership role — but also be aware of your blind spots. How? Through regular, candid feedback.

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing an individual or team that you think has been particularly effective?

I have always found it quite effective to be able to shift in a very agile way between looking at the big picture and digging into details. It is a very credible way of running a team and a business. It is also useful for the teams that I manage because I am able to provide the necessary insight or guidance depending on the situation.

What’s the No. 1 thing you hope your direct reports are getting out of working with you?

I hope that, through our interactions, they have learned the value of being bold — taking calculated risks and speaking up with respect.

When growing as a leader, what has been your most valuable career mistake?

I relocated to London from Manila in 2006. I was already a Senior Manager but, in the rush to get a job in London, I accepted an Inside Sales Rep position at a software company. After a year in this role, I left the company and became a fulltime mother for 3.5 years. 

Moving from sales management to a sales rep role and being out of the job market for 3.5 years may seem like very bad career moves; however, both experiences enriched me more than any management position would have during that time.

I learned how to really become a salesperson during my one-year sales rep experience — I was cold calling, I was prospecting like crazy and I was working so hard for every single dollar and deal that I could get my hands on. I fought each month for my hard-earned commissions. 

But, full-time motherhood was by far the most challenging job I have ever had in my life. I learned a lot though, most of all: empathy, prioritization, and resilience. I am a better person from these experiences and therefore a better leader. So, net-net, these were the best career mistakes I could have ever asked for!

My experience growing a team at Autodesk.

While at Autodesk, you’ve built a team that you’re now leading. How did you approach this?

When I took over this team nine years ago, there were already eight field salespeople in the team who had been performing their roles for several years. Our VP at the time gave me the remit to transform them into a high-performing, high-impact team. I did that by driving a lot of necessary changes: re-aligning and clearly communicating the new team goals, defining the measures for success, and implementing simple things like daily KPIs and dashboards to track metrics.

From there, I started to drive a culture of accountability in the team. Throughout the years, I had to continue to make more bold changes — all with the objective of increasing our sales contribution to the business year over year. With the yearly increase in our results, Autodesk started to invest more and more in my team. The investments allowed me to create new roles (i.e., Inside Sales), promote salespeople to management positions, hire new talent externally and expand the responsibilities of the experienced field sales reps. 

Now, nine years later, we are a team of 75 people. We have a multi-level organization, we are delivering seven times the revenue achieved than when I joined the team, we have an amazing one team culture and are a significant driver for new business growth at Autodesk. Building any team is easy, but building a high-performing team like mine took a lot of bold changes to be able to transform and grow.

While building your team, what did you learn that surprised you most?

People can be very open (or at least accepting) to change as long as it is communicated clearly and honestly to them. If they are provided with an understanding of the ‘why’ behind the change and how the change will impact them, positively or negatively, then they can adapt to the change.

What’s something you’re especially good at at work?

I would say that my superpower at work is my ability to make quick and confident decisions. As much as possible, I use data to inform my decisions, but I never get into analysis paralysis. I take calculated risks, and I am happy to report these decisions have led to the growth and success of my team. I also never take myself too seriously. I know I make mistakes; I am happy to be corrected and to course-correct when necessary.

Why I love working at Autodesk.

How do your coworkers influence you?

I am a product of all the experiences and people who influenced and continue to influence me in my professional life. There is not one person in my professional life who stands out the most. My direct reports influence me a lot — to think and motivate differently.

My sales teams are always challenging me to be a better leader. Autodesk has some amazing sales leaders who I continue to learn from. I have peers who have so much sales experience that I try to leverage whenever I can. I have a manager who motivates me through the autonomy that I receive to run my business in the way I deem fit. Customers push me to be a better business leader. The list is endless.

Ultimately, what has led you to stay at Autodesk?

Autodesk has a great culture. But this culture is only possible because of the great people who work at our company. There is a very high level of accountability in our organization.

At the same time, we always manage to have fun (even in this virtual environment we currently operate in). My sons asked me what kind of work I do because they said I laugh so much when I am on calls. How fun is that?


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