4 min reading time

Women in Sales: Meet LearnUpon's Senior Manager, Sales Engineering

At LearnUpon, our team’s success comes from our ability to support one another, deliver consistency in our daily activities, and strive for the best possible solution that will make a real difference to our customers. In this Life at LearnUpon post, Laura Scully talks about her journey to becoming LearnUpon’s first-ever Sales Engineer. She shares her career path, what it’s like to set up a new function in the company, and offers advice to anyone considering a similar role. Laura now leads the Sales Engineering function.

Tell us a bit about your background

I’m originally from Wexford, the sunny South East of Ireland. I went to Dublin City University to study international business and languages and was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to study abroad in Germany as part of an Erasmus program. After college, I moved to London, where I worked across multiple industries, from retail banking consulting to customer experience in various SaaS technology companies. My current role is as a Solutions Consultant, a.k.a. Sales Engineer, and I focus on providing solutions within the learning and development technology space.

How did you get into this career path?

I have a lot of experience in customer success and professional services, but have often found myself more involved in the technical side of things, like implementation and solutioning. In a previous role, I benefited from a natural progression from customer success into sales engineering. A colleague saw my potential and recommended me for the role. I understood how the product worked in the hands of our customers, and as a result, I was well equipped to work with the sales team, showcasing the more technical aspects of the product and identifying suitable solutions.

At the time, it felt like a risk, as I wondered if I was technical enough. In the end, it worked out extremely well, and I am grateful that my previous colleagues saw my potential and encouraged me to pivot into a new field. My advice is to not be afraid to try something new, especially if you have the support of your peers and management.

Tell us about your role and how it supports the sales function

As a Sales Engineer, I’m responsible for the technical selling and solutioning of enterprise deals. It’s essential to take time to understand the needs of our prospective customers in order to identify the best solution to support them in delivering their training objectives at scale. Some of the core work I carry out includes solution demonstrations, explaining the technical value proposition, and supporting proof of concepts.

As this is a new function, what were the biggest challenges when you started?

As you would expect, defining a new role and department is challenging, especially as not everyone in the organization has experience working with a Sales Engineer. It was important to define the do’s and don’ts of how an SE works, who we typically work with, clarify an operating model as well as identify collateral that needed to be built, and develop sales engineering demo environments. As I didn’t come from an LMS background, I also had to learn a lot about the industry and how it operated. Fortunately, I have an amazing group of colleagues around me, with a wealth of experience in the learning industry, to leverage to accelerate my knowledge.

What has been the most rewarding part of your first year at LearnUpon?

The opportunity to build the foundations of a new department, to take learning from previous roles, bring those experiences to LearnUpon, and meld them with the existing strategy and knowledge within the business. The support you get to do that is phenomenal. People here have this infectious can-do attitude. They want to facilitate improvement even though change can be challenging. Everyone is open to learning and improving. Also, seeing how well the sales team has taken to me and this new function has been very rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into this type of role?

  • Speak to someone who is already doing the role to understand the day-to-day activities, either in your business or find someone on LinkedIn and reach out. I am always happy to have a conversation with anyone interested in getting into sales engineering.
  • Understand what the core competencies are and match them back to your experience and skill set. Many of the skills leveraged in sales engineering can be developed in other customer-facing roles.
  • Remember, you don’t have to have all the experience listed on a job description, as long as you have relevant, transferable experience and a strong desire to learn.
  • Let your manager know that you are interested in exploring a move into sales engineering. It’s important to vocalize your career interests to your manager, even if they aren’t fully formed yet. They are there to help you grow. If an opportunity comes up within your organization, you want to be top-of-mind as a potential candidate. It’s often easier to make a move internally, leveraging your existing knowledge of the business, customers, and products. When it comes to thinking about how you can progress your career and further develop your skills, I love this quote from ‘The Squiggly Career’ by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis: “Compared to previous generations, we have more freedom to decide how our careers play out.”

If you are interested in a sales role, or any role at LearnUpon, feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn or one of our other social channels (Facebook, Instagram).