This month we discuss with Carolyn Lim, Asia Pacific Sales Operations Senior Manager with Blackboard her unique role and how data is helping its growth.
Q: Carolyn how did you find yourself working for a technology company such as Blackboard and what do you enjoy most about your role?
It was quite by accident that I fell into the technology industry given I did a double major at university in geography and sociology. Working in a fast-paced industry has always appealed and whilst Sales Operations has been around for some time now, every organisation has their own unique way of defining it, Blackboard being no different.
I particularly enjoy looking at trends and beyond year growths, finding solutions that will impact the bottom line. It’s also about working with the sales leaders, ensuring those individuals are all talking the same language, maintaining the corporate mission and providing feedback to corporate when a process may need tweaking in order for it to work in our region. It truly is a partnership.
Q: What motivates you?
It's really the people. At the end of the day I'm a people person and like to see teams working well together. Sure, we may have our differences but it’s crucial to understand and respect that we all have our own distinct principles and perspectives on life. This is also true of a company; we’re all working towards a vision and respecting the company’s values. Within that setting there is, however, room for individual differences, the challenge is how to bridge the gap and find common ground. It’s about making it work and not giving up.
Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you have received?
Over the years the one thing I’ve picked up is that you need to be genuine. Looking at different leaders I’ve worked with or admired during my career, there is one mentor who has stood out more than others. He is genuine to every single person he meets no matter what position they hold in life or within a company. His attitude has always been the same. Be genuine to yourself and others you encounter in life, I’d like to hope not only is this a leaf I’ve taken out of my mentor’s book but that I’m actually implementing it within Blackboard.
Q: Have you had any role models who have influenced or helped steer your career?
My children and husband are my biggest cheerleaders and support. My husband gives me the perfect career guidance and advice. Working in a regimental force, he deals with many different people and issues on a daily basis, his guidance when it comes to managing work relationships has been invaluable. Working from home and being in a job that requires travel can be a challenge at times but having my family’s support and knowing my husband is there to hold down the fort gives me peace of mind.
Q: Do you think Blackboard can play a role in encouraging more women into STEM companies and careers?
Blackboard is already taking the right steps to empower women! Delegates at this year’s BBWorld and TLC ANZ were fortunate to hear from keynote speakers and strong advocates for women, particularly young girls in STEM, Kimberly Bryant and Jenine Beekhuyzen, both presentations were inspiring and delivered a concise message that women are a growing force in the technology space.
Some regions around the world are more evolved than others in terms of opportunities for women and this is very true when we look at Asia. However, I strongly believe education plays a critical role, globally the field of education needs to change in order for it to catch up with the technology space. I see Blackboard as a company that recognises diversity and the issues or challenges that are unique to each country. As a company who takes pride in being an equal opportunity employer this naturally trickles down to Blackboard in the Asia Pacific region.
Q: What do you predict will be the next technology transformation?
Working in sales operations, I would say the use of data in predictive analysis. In any kind of sales operations, forecasting plays a big part, the ability to identify risk, calling it out and applying corrective measures to achieve the numbers. There’s an abundance of analytics tools being developed allowing for greater precision in looking at data and ensuring the accuracy of those predictions. We have shifted from being reactive in taking numbers from the salespeople directly to looking more closely at what our data is telling us. Analytics is helping companies to evolve, there is more room to evaluate situations and adjust based on the evidence generated by this data. We have seen a lot of change to date in this area but there is certainly more to come.
Q: If you could recommend a book that might help steer someone just starting their career in technology or someone who is looking for further guidance what would that be?
You can’t go wrong picking up a little book called “The Rules of Work” by Richard Templar. When I stumbled upon this book, its contents resonated immediately, it’s a great guide for those passionate about their career and achieving success. The ‘secret and unspoken’ rules - be genuine, be kind, maintain your reputation and not speak ill of others - that in the workplace you hope are upheld by all. You may not agree with every single rule, however, I’d encourage people to be open minded as they read this book.