Pull up a seat; our story starts at a French restaurant. Throw in a dash of summer camp, advertising technology, and enterprise software — and, well, you’ve got all the makings of a great Sales leader.
At least that’s the case for Caren Wachtenheim, Regional Vice President of Mid-Commercial Sales at Salesforce. In a career story that spans industries, roles, and cities, one thing has always remained the same for Caren: that she finds her purpose in supporting others.
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An untraditional start to sales
With an educational background in hospitality, Caren began her career in a boutique hotel’s French restaurant before spending three years working for a summer camp. “At the end of the day,” shared Caren, “I really enjoyed being of service to others — no matter what industry I was in.”
Caren ultimately found her sales start in advertising technology, building up her expertise and her frequent flyer miles while working at a start-up that required her to re-locate from New York to San Francisco. Once settled in California, she reached out — cold! — to sales leaders via LinkedIn and Twitter, seeking their advice on standing out in a competitive West Coast landscape. One respondent? Greg Tarantino, an SVP of Sales at Salesforce.
“I wasn’t looking for a job — just for knowledge,” said Caren. “How do I take all the things that I know about hospitality, sales, marketing, and growing a business and translate that into conversations that would resonate? I met with Greg four or five times to get some mentorship. ‘How do I be better?’ ‘What am I missing?’ And then, at some point, he had an open role on his team.”
Landing the role — and building her Salesforce community
After she received the offer, Caren had a single, simple gut feeling: “I just knew that Salesforce was going to play a significant role in my life.” What she didn’t know at the time? That her Salesforce career journey was just getting started.
Initially hired as a Regional Manager leading a team of Account Executives, Caren found that she craved a deeper understanding of the products and processes at Salesforce in order to best support her team. After two years in the role, she decided to make an untraditional move: become an Account Executive herself.
“If you aren’t learning, you’re not growing. I decided to make the move to an Individual Contributor role because I just knew if I could master that [AE role], understand our products, and learn the Salesforce playbook, then I could go back into leadership and be a more productive leader,” said Caren. “I just had to have that little side-step in order to be more efficient and be more effective.”
Caren spent another four years at Salesforce — six in total! — building her selling skills and her network, before leaving for an opportunity at another software company.
The boomerang back
“I knew even leaving that I would come back,” said Caren. “I just came back sooner than I anticipated.”
After about a year, Caren felt drawn once again to Salesforce – this time, elevating her role from Account Executive to a Regional Vice President of Sales. The professional opportunity was enormous for her; she knew that she would be able to make an impact managing an entire Sales team. But, she was also drawn back to Salesforce because of the communities she had found within the company – as a seller, as a learner, as a woman, and as a leader.
“I think I needed to leave in order for me to not only figure out where I wanted my career path to go, but also the types of leaders I want to align with, learn from, grow with, and take parts of them with me. And all those leaders were at Salesforce.”
As for the transition back? Well, it felt natural — thanks in large part to Salesforce’s unique culture.
“Salesforce is one of the most inclusive cultures I’ve seen in my career,” said Caren. “And that runs the gambit from as many Equality Groups as you can possibly imagine to the mindset that no matter who it is within the organization, if you reach out, no one is ever going to say ‘No, that’s not my job.’ In an org this large, that is an anomaly.”
So, what’s next?
Now, back at Salesforce and leading a team of global Account Executives, Caren’s team is growing, and she is looking for people that meet four simple criteria: natural curiosity, inherent competitiveness, a collaborative nature, and a positive attitude.
“We’re going to hit hurdles — but keeping a positive attitude is really important. I want someone to be a team player, and I want someone who will really experience this role ... who will perfect and master the requirements to do the job well.”
Caren with her husband and children
Of course, it’s also about someone who’s able to embrace — and help build upon — Salesforce’s unique culture, which drove Caren to come back to the very same place where her enterprise software career started.
“It’s always been a very caring and open-minded and transparent culture. It’s not a culture of judgment,” said Caren. “You’re in this seat for a reason. You have this job for a reason.”Ready to embark (or re-embark, like Caren!) on your own Sales career with Salesforce? Join their Talent Community and check out the latest Salesforce career opportunities to become part of this award-winning culture.