Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?
I am a born and raised Bostonian. Specifically, Roxbury.
As a child, I was always trying to find a way to make a dollar. To me, there was nothing better than making a transaction where the customer was satisfied. I recall ordering Domino’s almost every day in middle school (back when they had the 5/5/5 deal. Three medium one topping pizzas). I would sell all but three slices. The result: Free lunch every day plus a little extra cash at the end of the week!
My father was a union electrician in Boston, he’s now enjoying retirement. My mother works in the detective bureau of a police department in a suburb of Boston.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating?
I went to (Almost Heaven) West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. There I majored in Marketing with a Minor in Communications.
What inspired you to get into the tech industry?
To be completely honest, I kind of fell into the tech industry. After college, there weren’t many entry level marketing roles that interested me at the time and decided to give Sales a shot since I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind. Once I got in, I quickly realized that I wanted to pivot into MarTech as it was the best of both worlds for me.
What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining Alyce?
I took a slightly unique path into technology. Instead of starting out as a BDR, I took a sales role at an independent insurance agency selling insurance. One of those types of roles where you had a headset on, the computer makes a dial for you, you hear a beep and you're on a sales call to sell auto insurance with the goal of that call to walk away with a policy sold. If you didn’t there, was less than a 2% (maybe not 2% but you get the point) chance you would get a sale on a 2nd or 3rd call.
It forced me to adapt and learn on the fly, which was the best thing for me. Once I felt that I learned as much as I could there, I made the pivot into tech as an AE.
Since then, I’ve remained an individual contributor but oftentimes that role has evolved into a player/coach type of role which is what I’m in now officially. There’s nothing better than helping others improve and seeing the results of that improvement.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Sales Team Lead at Alyce?
Currently I am the Sales Team Lead at Alyce, a Martech SaaS company that helps organizations amplify their outbound strategy with personal, relevant and thoughtful gifts.
I joined Alyce in March of 2021 as an individual contributor/Account Executive. Since then, I’ve transitioned to a Team Lead Role where I am responsible for my individual quota, coaching & training greener AE’s, assisting our Director of Sales with operational tasks like Salesforce reporting, account mapping, etc.
What has attributed to your success thus far?
“If a guy pays you five dollars, you give him seven dollars worth of work” - Bill Russell.
The number one key to my success is the hard work & effort I put in every SINGLE day. To me that doesn’t mean just showing up and going through the motions. It means being smart, strategic, being prepared and always ready to go where the wind blows. The fact is that we (Black people) don’t get the same opportunities for roles, we don’t get the same number of “chances” once we’re in those roles, and at times we’re looked at like we don’t belong. Knowing that from the moment I’ve been in tech has always lit a fire under my ass and something that motivates me every single day.
I think being coachable is something that is extremely important in Tech Sales. If someone can help me be better in my role in any way, I have no problem being humble and seeking help or advice from anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the VP of Sales or a BDR who is new to SaaS sales. I’ve learned something from everybody I’ve worked closely with and those people are partially responsible for my success.
What types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional?
I’d say at the beginning of me getting into tech an obstacle was not seeing many people that looked like me above an Account Executive Role in tech (on the Sales side of the house). I am someone that looks ahead, so when I thought about what that looks like in Sales, it just became overwhelming because something that is/was attainable felt unattainable. Luckily, I made some friends along the way that were in a similar boat with the same goal and we have been able to lean on each other in various ways throughout our career journey in tech. Shoutout to my brothers Jevic Muteba (Blavity) and Daniel Regis (Qualified).
My fear of using video during calls with prospects is another obstacle that I had to work hard to overcome. I remember years ago when video started to be incorporated into the sales process, I was one of the last members of the team to use it. I literally was fearful that I wouldn’t get the same reception as my white colleagues would from prospects. Literally the first time I used video on a sales call, the prospect's response was “Woah, I didn’t expect this. I didn’t know you were like…. YO!” And threw up his hands trying to portray what he thought a rapper would do…
I’ve struggled with social anxiety for most of my life, so for me this was a setback in some ways. Luckily, I had a super supportive leader and teammates that helped me get over this fear/block.
What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry?
DO IT!!! We belong in tech too. There are so many different roles in tech to fit your skillset. Some of the most successful people I know in tech were able to translate their skills from their former craft/profession.
I’ve had many conversations with people who were afraid to take the leap because they didn’t want to “start over”. Everyone I know that has made the leap didn’t regret it, regardless of the length of time they spend in tech. Most of the ones that ended up leaving tech used the skills they acquired to start their own business!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to network/ask for informational interviews (for role or company). Black professionals in the tech industry are some of the most helpful people I’ve come across.
While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?
Companies should be making more of an effort to recruit students at HBCUs and/or summer internships for those in inner city high schools. The fact is many people who look like me are still unaware that this is a field that they can enter and excel in.
The organizations that I’ve worked for that have had the most success were the ones that went out of their way to build a diverse workforce. In those environments people were more collaborative in how they worked, were better at communication (both internally and externally) and had more fun while on the job.