Speaker Spotlight: Rakhi Voria
As the Director of IBM Global Digital Sales, Rakhi Voria manages a team that is responsible for the strategy, implementation, and revenue of the Digital Development Representative sales function globally at IBM. These are digitally enabled sellers that drive client engagement, deal progression, and closure of select deals. Rakhi is joining us at Get Money Get Paid on The Young Guns panel, featuring a few women who have reached leadership roles before by the age of 30. Rakhi will share what it takes to position yourself for a promotion, and how to find people who will advocate on your behalf. Get to know Rakhi!
What is the best career or money advice you’ve ever received?
My biggest piece of advice would be to throw out the idea of a career ladder and instead focus on gaining a set of skills and experiences that will set you up for the long run. The traditional notion of a linear career path and “climbing the ladder” no longer exists. Because there’s no universal path to success, focus on broadening your skillsets and experiences, whether that’s through stretch projects, travel, or cross-group collaboration.
Also, give more than you receive. Thank those who have invested in your growth and find ways to pay it forward. Most of us are where we are today thanks to support from others. While it is okay to be focused on personal growth, make sure to place equal importance on team success and developing others. There are a number of ways to do this—mentorship, time, financial contributions. I love the phrase “lift while you climb.” It’s a good reminder that collaboration is key and while we may be individually strong, we are collectively powerful!
What’s a moment in your career that you’re really proud of?
I’m hugely passionate about diversity and inclusion and am a big champion for advancing women, particularly in the field of sales. According to this LinkedIn report, women represent 39% of the workforce in sales. This percentage has only increased by 3% over the past decade.
As someone who didn’t naturally consider sales and fell into the profession through a series of events myself, I’ve become an advocate on this topic. I’ve published articles in Forbes on Why We Need More Women in Sales and Why Women Should Consider Roles in Sales and speak regularly on podcasts and at conferences about this.
In the organizations that I’ve been in, I’ve pushed leaders to set thoughtful goals to ensure a balance of gender diversity in our sales forces and to continue investments that acquire female talent – resulting in many sales teams with over 50% women. I’m also super proud of this work because it’s helped encourage women to explore and build flourishing careers in a profession where we are underrepresented.
(PS: I currently serve as Exec Co-Chair of Women@IBM NYC, which is a group focused on attracting, retaining, and advancing female talent in the workplace while also building partnerships with similar groups at other companies – so reach out if you share a similar passion and would like to connect!)
What is one thing you hope the attendees at the conference will take away from your story?
A common theme in my career is that I’ve taken jobs that didn’t necessarily sound like the best fit on paper, and jobs that I didn’t exactly qualify for on paper. Many people have heard about the Hewlett-Packard study from a few years ago that showed women tend to apply for jobs only when they believe they meet 100% of the qualifications listed for the job, versus men who apply even when they only think they meet 60% of the job requirements. I think we as women need to push ourselves to go for roles even if we don’t hit every checkbox.
For many of the positions that I’ve had, I haven’t know the ins and outs of the jobs. But people saw potential in me based on my previous experiences and the skills that I’ve developed. It’s all about having confidence in yourself, being open to feedback, finding mentors, and relentlessly learning the business.
Who is a woman you admire (living or dead)?
My mom, Purnima Voria. She has always been a change agent in the community—never letting hardships set her back. Although she immigrated to the US from India and raised me and my sisters alone, she still found time to serve on various political, cultural, and economic boards, strengthening her business acumen and network. Today, she’s the CEO of the National US India Chamber of Commerce and an all around #bosslady.