Name: Alice Katwan
Job / Title: VP of Sales, NA West
Industry: Customer Experience
Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?
Alice: Waiting for the right opportunity and the time to make strategic career moves. The turning point in my career was when my three boys (now aged 15, 14 and 10) reached a certain level of independence. From that point on, I was able to take on new responsibilities and management roles, which ultimately helped further my professional goals.
Q: If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?
Alice: Identify an advocate within your organization who believes in you and supports your career goals. You want someone who not only fosters your strengths but also pushes you to grow. Sometimes that means doing things you’re uncomfortable doing, like deepening your technical knowledge or public speaking, because they’re essential for your professional development.
Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?
Alice: My mentors have supported me in good times and guided me through tough times. Their help in expanding my network has led to professional success in the world beyond my job, including speaking engagements and awards. I recommend that when you look for a mentor, you pick someone who has accomplished goals similar to what you want to achieve. I’m an advocate for co-mentorship, where your mentor can also benefit from your experiences and aspirations. When you can give back, everyone benefits.
Q: What are the hallmark traits of your leadership style?
Alice: Enthusiasm and passion. I believe a great leader is someone others believe in and willingly take risks for. They want to be a part of something greater than themselves. That describes my team members.
My leadership style revolves around inspiring and motivating people by playing to their strengths. It’s especially satisfying when I help them discover and build on strengths that they didn’t even know they had.
Effective leadership starts with building the right team. I aim to hire people who are eager to learn, value collaboration and complement, rather than duplicate, my team’s attributes. You want people who see the big picture and people who are meticulous about details, technical and nontechnical thinkers. This diversity is essential when you lead a high-performing group of people who always want to best themselves.
I strive to make sure that my employees understand that their contributions are important and appreciated, and in turn that cultivates loyalty and a willingness to reach beyond what’s expected.
Q: How important is developing a management style?
Alice: You lead teams, but you manage individuals. It’s important to develop a management style that’s authentic but also flexible. Your ability to recruit top talent depends on your reputation as a manager, but your ability to retain that talent depends on how well you can adapt your style to manage and develop individuals—each with quirks as well as competencies. It feels great when people want to work for me because they’ve heard good things about my style and want to be part of my team’s camaraderie in addition to our achievements.
Q: What do you like to do to unwind?
Alice: Bikram yoga
Alice Katwan was selected for the 2015 CLUB Incubator program based on her successful sales career in sales and intense drive for improvement. Alice was recently recognized as one of the 2015 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. We’re delighted to learn from Alice’s experience.