We sat down with Ali Dorris, VP of Sales Operations at SpotOn, following our International Women’s Day webinar with panelists Michelle Zmugg, General Counsel; Nyree Allen, VP of Client Enablement; Nakia Stovell-Thomas, Senior Marketing Manager; Jennifer Solberg, Director of Client Services; and Lisa Banks, Chief Financial Officer. Here Ali shares her thoughts on everything from country music to the correlations between film production and sales, to how women can carve a meaningful career for themselves.
See the whole person, recognize limitless potential.
Unless you’ve been to a karaoke night with me, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that I went down to Nashville during my college years to try and make a go of a career as a country singer. That’s the cool thing about people—we are complicated and surprising, all of us.
So one of the great joys in reflecting on my diverse career is recognizing the ways in which skills I developed in one area translated when I pursued new opportunities. Skills are not stationary. You acquire them, you grow them, and they grow with you.
When I worked in the entertainment business, I was problem-solving for things like business development and sales in addition to operations. Producing a movie and rolling out a new tool like SFDC are more alike than you’d think: schedule considerations, budget, staffing, adoption. In film, I learned how to tell stories about people. Twelve years in finance and sales operations taught me how to tell stories about numbers. Now, at SpotOn, I get to do both.
How can we help each other as female leaders?
When we get a seat at the table, pull up more chairs. Dominant groups maintain power by creating a scarcity myth. Imagine a board room. All the seats are filled by people who look the same, think the same, act the same. Now that there’s some level of awareness that diverse teams drive better results, there may be one seat at the table for someone who is different. This is the scarcity myth in action. Don’t perpetuate it by believing there can be only one seat. When you get in the room, pull up more chairs.
I bring my whole self to work. On Friday afternoons, I hold all-hands and teach best practices for work and life. I’ve spent the past 20 years developing my endurance. I’ve completed 7-marathons and over 25,000 miles. I use my endurance mindset to tackle big problems. If a problem seems overwhelming in its entirety, I break it down into smaller segments to complete. This is one way that I combine life learning with work.
Having a growth mindset is my superpower. I am a voracious reader and an active listener. Even with over 20 years of experience, I still discover new opportunities to learn and develop. This growth mindset allows me to build high-performing teams. I find great satisfaction in enabling our teammates also to learn and develop. As a leader, the best thing I can do is use my superpower to help everyone grow. If my team is successful, then our Sales team is successful, which in turn helps SpotOn be successful.
Best advice I ever received.
Find a job, a company that values you for all you have to offer.