Poly Celebrates Helen Simpson for winning CRN’s Role Model of the Year Award and her nomination as a finalist for PCR Top 25 Women in Tech Award.
At Poly, we celebrate the ‘authentic self’ of our employees and make a point to embrace diversity in all its forms. Therefore, it is our joy to spotlight leaders within our company who embody these elements of culture by announcing Helen Simpson, Director of Inside Sales (EMEA), has recently been awarded Role Model of the Year – Vendor/Distributor by CRN and was nominated for PCR’s Top 25 Women in Tech Award.
Helen has been with Poly for 24 years, serving as a global mentor to female talent and supports them develop workplace skills. We took this opportunity to hear from Helen about the path that led her to where she is today in hope that her story can inspire women in the industry.
Helen channeled her passions for data analysis, presentation, and communication into a degree in Linguistics. Early on, she knew that specific branches of linguistics such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and computational linguistics could lead her onto a direct path into the tech industry.
“I was fortunate enough to secure a position straight out of University at PictureTel, which was one of the first commercial video conferencing product companies. They played a major role in developing the industry standards for video, audio, and data communications and (in 1996) it was clear to me that this was an exciting, highly innovative industry to forge a career in and I felt confident I could make a positive impact.”
Helen noted that being a woman in tech has its challenges, but she always has faced them head-on. Doing so by turning challenges into learnings and making them pivotal moments in her career. Helen shared an experience when she was challenged with in-sourcing and building a new EMEA Renewals Team at Polycom.
“This important Services Revenue stream was declining, and we were losing customers. Through a rigorous and detailed build-plan, I hired a new team of Renewal Reps and ramped up their onboarding and performance. In our first year, we delivered $10 million of incremental bookings and significant cost savings to the business. For me, this challenge proved a pivotal moment as I felt I became a trusted advisor and the businesses held faith in me to deliver.”
Three years later, Helen was challenged with in-sourcing and building a new EMEA Inside Sales Team at Poly.
“This proved to be one of the biggest challenges of my career as I needed to expand my experience from purely services to include our solutions. Applying the learnings from building out the Renewals Team, I hired a new team of Inside Sales Reps and developed a brand new Inside Sales Onboarding Program with rigorous targets and objectives. In our first year, we delivered $2 million of incremental bookings – which granted an enormous sense of achievement given I too had so much to learn!”
Some may look at challenges as challenging, however, Helen approached them as privileges. Nearly 18 months ago, she was set the task of creating Poly’s new Inside Sales team – bringing together the teams from two distinct $1 billion companies with the responsibility of delivering against a specific blueprint.
“Managing this has been one of the privileges of my career. The analogy of flying the plane whilst building it could not have been more apt! Through a rigorous and detailed integration plan, we doubled the size of the existing team, created extensive onboarding programs, and developed a defined career progression program to ensure Inside Sales became a destination career at Poly! This hard work paid dividends, with our EMEA team exceeding sales expectations for FY20, achieving 122% of the target. I am blessed with an incredibly supportive Manager and a highly competent team!”
For women starting out in a male-dominated industry such as tech, it can be overwhelming, daunting, and exciting. Helen believes it is important to lead by example by being authentic. One question Helen ponders regularly is, do women have self-limiting beliefs and behaviors that hold us back from pursuing a career in the Tech Industry? Helen shared,
“I think for some of us, the answer is yes. I hear concerns such as, ‘are there certain barriers that exist for women in tech, or is it an industry that empowers women to be both professionals and mothers’?
When women can see themselves represented at senior levels, they’re more likely to feel they have a place. I’m proud to be considered a role model at Poly – not only in tech but also as a senior sales leader across our EMEA region. It’s important to lead by example and for me, this means being authentic. Like anyone else, I’m multi-dimensional and I work hard to show this in all areas of my life. Be under no illusion, I do have to role-shift – sports day vs. presentation prep, networking vs. parents evening, time given vs. time off – important decisions and trade-offs must be made to maintain a healthy balance and I think showing vulnerability allows me to dance between the different areas of my life while being true to who I am. I challenge women starting out to resist self-limiting beliefs and behaviors by asking them, ‘if you knew you could not fail, what would what you do?’
HERE AT POLY
Helen recalled several milestones during her 24 years with Poly that have shaped her into the leader and mentor she is today.
“In 2011 we shipped our 4-millionth conference phone which was a huge milestone that leveraged our history of innovation in the market. I remember at the time feeling so proud to be part of a company that was market-leading, market-disruptive, and focused on bringing people together, anywhere now.”
Additionally, she reflected on the merging and re-branding of Plantronics and Polycom as Poly.
“It was the moment where we redefined ourselves as a new company with an exciting new path forward to become the brand ubiquitous within meeting and collaboration solutions. I felt privileged and remain so to feel the Power of Many!”
From a personal perspective, Poly has given her lifelong memories and leadership skills that empower her to keep doing more every day.
“A personal stand-out has been my President Club wins which saw once-in-a-lifetime trips to Puerto Rico and Maui. The memories I took away from these trips will stay with me for life – from a trek through the El Yunque National Rainforest, experiencing a traditional Hawaiian lūʻau, to snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. However, the thing that stands out the most about my time at Poly has been the process of developing myself into a global mentor that sponsors female talent and helps women develop skills and competencies. I hope I serve as an important advocate for those women and as a personal example of what’s achievable.”
When asked about how Helen is fairing during the pandemic, true-to-form, she believes balance is key and has been utilizing her time to build personal and professional skills that she will take with her beyond the pandemic.
“This year, I qualified as a Mental Health First Aider as I’m passionate about supporting other people’s wellbeing. This has been of paramount importance during the global pandemic. During lockdown, I rolled out targeted wellness objectives for both managers and sellers focused on maintaining strong mental and physical health. I will continue with these wellness objectives after the pandemic as they’ve reinforced our people are our most important investment.
On a personal level, I challenged myself to learn a new skill. Up until April of this year, I had never played an instrument, never tuned an instrument, and never read music. I can now do all three having learned the harp! It’s been fantastic to learn something new. Practice really does make perfect and I’ve found learning to be a mixture of achievement, frustration and relaxation all rolled into one. I cannot wait to see what I can play with my harp a year from now!”
We are proud to celebrate Helen’s achievement of being awarded CRN’s Role Model of the Year – Vendor/Distributor and being nominated as a finalist for PCR’s Top 25 Women in Tech award. Similarly, she feels honored beyond belief to have been recognized.
“This recognition has to be one of the highlights of my career and has only been made possible because of the faith Poly has vested in me, the amazing teams I’ve had the privilege to lead/be part of/contribute to and last by no means least, my wonderful family. It’s a validation that I’m humbled by!”
Here at Poly, diversity, inclusion, and culture are fundamental and Helen is a fantastic example of the kind of leadership and mentorship we honor.
To learn more about life at Poly, please visit: https://www.poly.com/us/en/company/careers/poly-life.