Tan Kok Sen joined our company nine years ago. His career progression was rapid, thanks to the many opportunities (and challenges) offered to him by Arkadin. Today, he is our Cisco Alliance Director for all of APAC. We asked him to tell us a little bit about his very first position at Arkadin and how it shaped the rest of his career with us.
Sen says, “I started my career in Arkadin as an Account Manager, taking care of around 200 accounts in the financial sector. That was around 2010, and the only product we had was Arkadin Anytime, our audio conferencing solution. My primary responsibility as an AM was to grow the revenue of my accounts to meet the revenue target – either by upselling to more users or by driving usage from existing users.
“The role required me to have multiple touchpoints within each account in order to sniff out opportunities to grow the business. Once an opportunity was identified, I had to study the prospect’s requirements, analyze the traffic usage pattern, and prepare and present a proposal that made sense to the prospect from both productivity and cost saving angles. Back in those days, we didn’t have a CSM team… the AM had to do the rollout and training as well. As there were simply too many accounts to manage, I was forced to strategize sales plans to segment the accounts and apply different strategies to each segment.
“While closing big accounts was satisfying, my sense of accomplishment actually came from seeing those plans successfully executed. That’s when I realized my calling was to drive greater success through a team.”
The challenges of transitioning to management
In his video, Sen explains that the biggest challenge he faced while working with Arkadin was when he got promoted from an individual contributor to a people manager. We asked him about that uneasy period when he had to manage and mentor his peers, and asked if he had any advice for other new managers on how to navigate that transition period.
“From my personal experience, the most effective way to overcome the initial awkwardness is to focus on helping the team to drive business outcomes instead of trying to be the ‘nice’ boss. I also made a conscious effort to be impartial and objective by changing the habits of lunching/going for drinks with the same team members. When unpopular decisions have to be made, it helps to be transparent and explain the rationale behind the decisions during 1-to-1 sessions.”
His advice for anyone who wants to join us in a sales capacity? Three qualities are necessary: self-drive and motivation; excellent adaptability; and the capacity to enjoy both work and life. “Ideally, somebody who has a passion in this industry, as I believe that if you have this passion, you will be able to enjoy every minute of your work life.”