How Relationships Fuel Career Growth: Insight from Okta’s Myia Murphy
Myia Murphy's entire career trajectory changed when she made a single phone call.
While working as a Sales Development Manager at a large telecommunications company, she saw an email from the enterprise side of the business explaining that they were looking for Enterprise Account Executives, and that the opportunity would come with significant earning potential.
She saw that the director who had sent the email had his phone number in his email signature.
So she called.
“Now I understand that was pretty bold,” she says, laughing. “It’s not something you do every day. But I said, ‘Hey, I got your email. I want to make money.’ And we had a chat.”
Myia was invited in for an interview, which was a hands-on cold calling session. She crushed it, hooking a prospect so thoroughly that when he came in to finalize the sale, he’d only do it with Myia.
“And then I was rookie of the year,” says Myia. “That phone call really changed the trajectory for me.”
That might have been the first time that Myia reached out to someone at her company who had a different job and focus than her in order to find ways to advance their mutual goals — but it wasn’t the last.
Now, as the Services Partner Program Manager at IDaaS company Okta, the entirety of Myia’s job is about connecting with people and managing cross-functional goals.
We sat down with her to hear more about her story — and to get her top tips for people looking to make the most of their own cross-team collaboration.
Finding Her Own Strategy
Myia knows her strengths. She loves women’s basketball, but prefers watching over playing. She’s a self-proclaimed award-winning shower singer, though she’s not a fan of bigger stages. She knows her way around a kitchen, even sometimes making meals under time pressure to simulate the environment of her favorite cooking show, Beat Bobby Flay.
And when it came to pivoting from her sales success to the next level of her career, Myia realized she could build on her base of strong relationship skills.
“The approach had to be different. You have to have a strategy. You can’t just go in there and hope to catch a fish,” she explains. “For me, for my success, it was all about finding a niche: building and working with partners.”
In Myia’s previous roles, she used partner communities and channels to grow her sales numbers and her success. By consistently focusing on her niche market she began to harness other aspects that came with working with partners. She began to look at problems solving at program level. She became a program manager, then a senior program manager, and moved across departments, too, from operations to go-to-market strategy.
But at some point, Myia realized that she wanted a chance to apply that strategy somewhere new, somewhere she could learn about a new industry.
“When you want to strive towards your goals, it’s not about being comfortable. It’s about learning,” says Myia. She started updating her LinkedIn, and soon got a message from an Okta recruiter.
“What better way to get uncomfortable than to go into tech in the Bay Area?” reflects Myia on the opportunity that came up.
Myia wanted to stretch herself in terms of her skillset, but she also knew that she wanted to experience those growing pains in a supportive environment. “I was coming from a company with an amazing culture, and that’s one of the things I wanted to make sure I would get if I went somewhere else,” says Myia. “I wanted to make sure there were kindhearted people leading teams who would take time to help build, challenge, and grow their employee’s careers.”
As Myia talked with her now-team, she found that to be true. “I know some folks may be afraid to break into the tech space, but Okta's done a really good job when it comes to diversity and inclusion and leaders that want to see their employees win!” she says. “I feel heard, as a woman of color. I feel empowered and accepted as an employee.”
Applying Her Approach Somewhere New
When Myia joined Okta, she wasn’t sure how her relationships-focused approach to work would translate with a brand-new set of people. As it turns out, it’s been key to her success.
She is responsible for managing Okta’s Services Delivery Partner Program, which includes empowering Okta’s partners and ensuring they have what they need to sell and service their products. To do that well, she has to work with people from across Okta’s business, from marketing to finance to procurement to operations.
And it’s not just surface-level partnership.
“The reason I work in program management is because I get to connect with stakeholders from different organizations within the company on a way more intimate level while still being able to connect with customers,” she says.
“That’s strategic,” adds Myia, explaining that program management means bringing along a diverse group of stakeholders and making sure that their perspectives are included in the final product.
“The reason you talk to everybody is because when you're managing a program, you need to think of who your customer is,” she says. “You have to have those communication skills to get your point across.”
Ultimately, Myia explains, a lot of her work focuses on making that vision feel like something shared by everyone — and getting everyone excited about bringing it to life.
5 Tips for Building Great Relationships
We asked Myia for her cheat sheet on building real relationships that facilitate partnership at work. Here’s what she said:
- Be confident. “If you're scared to talk to folks, folks are going to be scared to talk to you. They are going to be concerned that you're not confident,” says Myia.
- Respect people’s time. “Time is money,” she says. “If you’re not respecting other people’s time, you’re not building an audience that’s going to be excited to talk to you in the future.”
- Be kind. “Kindness should be a part of everyone's brand. It should come so easily just to be nice to people,” she says. “Kindness automatically shines through and first impressions are everything.”
- Admit your mistakes. “Everyone is human! It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you’re willing to learn.”
- Don’t take things personally. “If someone doesn’t get something to you on time, nine times out of ten, that’s not them saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this because [Your Name] asked for this.’ It’s nothing personal; everyone is prioritizing for themselves. Break down the ask and try again.”
Interested in joining Myia at Okta? Check out their open roles!