Succeeding in the Male-Dominated Technology Sales Field: Lessons From a Sales Director

Sponsored by Lumen

Dawn Robinson

Photo courtesy of Lumen Technologies.

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“Throughout my sales career, I found very few women, and especially African American women, in leadership roles within my industry,” remarks Dawn Robinson, sales director at Lumen Technologies, a company she has been with for 12 years. As a result, Robinson’s made it a focus to uplift other women as she’s grown her career

“As I have transitioned into various roles, I committed to always make time for other women seeking support, guidance, mentorship, coaching, or just an ear,” explains Robinson. “While my days can be pretty hectic, I believe it’s important to carve out time for anyone needing a safe place to speak candidly and confidentially about concerns, difficulties, and aspirations. I’ve found that sharing empathetic experience can make a profound difference in another woman’s career path.”

It’s no wonder then that Robinson has taken on a servant leadership style to support her high-performing sales team. “I value people, serve with humility, listen to what my team has to say, and work to establish mutual trust,” she says. “I try to make sure everyone on the team knows I care about their personal and professional being.” 

Here, we caught up with Robinson to talk more about what her day-to-day work looks like, the lessons she’s learned from her experience in Sales, and why she thinks her company is a great place for women.

What has been the proudest moment in your career?

The proudest moment of my career was when I was asked to consider the role in which I currently serve not because of the promotion, but because of the challenge that it represented. I was humbled that my leadership team and the team I would be leading felt that I could make a difference.

What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day? 

The first thing I do every day is conquer the most important item on my to-do list. The last thing I do at work every day is review my calendar for the next day.

How do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?

I prioritize my to-do list by first identifying my goals for the day, and then lining up my tasks to get there. Next, I consider what is “urgent,” and move those tasks to the top of the list. The final component is considering the level of effort for each task and moving some of the quick completions up the list, too — why make people wait for something I can do relatively quickly? 

Are there any obstacles you feel women specifically have to overcome working in sales?

Technology sales is still a male-dominant industry. As such, I believe there is still the challenge of overcoming unconscious bias, leveraging external connections with other women, and often the challenge of managing time as it relates to work-life balance. 

What advice do you have for women who are looking to elevate their career in sales?

My advice is to always be your authentic self. Take on obstacles as a learning opportunity. And network. Make those connections; they are invaluable. 

Why do you think Lumen is a particularly supportive work environment for women?

We have created a really supportive culture for women at Lumen. I believe part of that success is because of the commitment of our Senior Leadership to operate by our Unifying Principles: Fairness, Honesty and Integrity, Positive Attitude, Respect, Faith, and Perseverance.

It’s not your average list — there are some unique qualities in our principles. Lumen’s culture is one that prioritizes the well-being of employees, offers support, and encourages empathy. With empathy comes respect and trust. All of it is healthy.

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