My experience as a Sales Regional VP at Sinch
I am Sean, Sales Regional Vice President in Sinch’s APAC region based in Singapore, but I am originally from Ireland. I have always been a very inquisitive guy, and while growing up we did not have Wikipedia and Google, so I spent most of my free time reading books, encyclopedias, and various papers. So, at an early age I had already decided I wanted to leave Ireland and experience all these places I was reading about firsthand.
At the age of 14, I was studying French as a third language in school and did a summer student exchange in France. I had a great relationship with my host family, with an enormous amount of trust and freedom. That different reality opened my eyes to all the possibilities out there and reinforced my dream of traveling the world.
I was lucky enough to have had this opportunity in my work experience before Sinch. In total during my career, I have lived in 13 different cities in countries such as Mexico, Sweden, Indonesia, USA, China, and Philippines. Today I speak fluent English and Swedish, but I have learned and forgotten so many languages, like Irish, French, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia, and Mandarin. I am curious and I like learning about diverse cultures, so I would always prefer to go to the places the local people go, trying all the local food, really diving into the culture and into the language. People are much more welcoming if you are trying to be local and understand the local culture.
As a professional, I am a computer scientist & mathematician, who later worked as a software engineer. Math is my thing; I am a numbers guy. I am an avid learner; I want to understand how things work and enjoy helping people by sharing my knowledge when I can. So, I became the informal internal tech consultant for the sales teams, even though I was working with engineering & development. After 8 years in engineering roles, I realized that sales was more fun and that I would like to own the client relationship, instead of only being the person in the background. I have held various Sales Engineering and Sales leadership roles globally over the past 27 years.
After 30 years with my previous employer, it was time to do something new. So, I took six months off, moved back to Sweden and dedicated myself to my daughters. Then, I decided it was time to start working again.
The year was 2018, Sinch was expanding in Asia, the Regional Vice President of APAC role was vacant and a perfect match with my aspirations. I worked in the Stockholm office for the first six weeks, where I got to know everybody and built some relationships. Afterwards, I moved out to Singapore. At that time, we were nine people in my team — today, we are 40.
Of the original nine team members three people are still in the team 4 years later, three left at an early stage (one of which came back recently) and three people moved into other roles at Sinch. We have built the team organically and through acquisitions over the past four years, but employee turnover is a challenge that we need to manage. If I were to be honest, not everyone is super delighted to be in sales. But we do not have to lose good talent when, as a rapidly growing company, in-house opportunities are available all the time. People can go into roles that they are fit for, grow upwards or move horizontally.
Besides the sales team growing to 40 people, we have also built and filled many other functions in APAC; Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Marketing, Operations etc. Consequently, APAC has certainly grown into a fully functioning region, becoming quite different but always having fun. I am delighted that we have expanded at the speed we have. When I contemplate how much we have grown in the past few years I realize this journey is far from over and there still is much to do. Even though it has been difficult at times, it has been a fantastic journey so far and I really look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead of us.
I love to see people grow. In Asian business culture when you reach a certain age your job is to secure the next generation. Many Asian executives work well into their 70’s, or later, but in the later years they focus on acting in a kind of a consultant role to the next generation, leading from the rear rather than from the front. I am not yet THAT old, but I love the concept and that is why I invest a lot of my time to make sure that my team members succeed. I recognize that I am not an in-depth expert in all aspects of the Sinch business, so I cannot do other people’s job as well as they can. What I can do is remove barriers to make sure they can succeed and grow. Because we in APAC are quite unique culturally, not the largest region in terms of revenue and far away from where many of the decisions are taken there is always a risk that we are overlooked, I see it as a critical part of my job to ensure that that does not happen.
We work a lot, but we also celebrate every success, and it is a great feeling. I try to help my team see that even though we have ambitious targets; we can beat them — this is what we must work for. So, we have the “why not?” mindset and we understand nothing is impossible. Why can’t we do this? Let’s go for it.