Nazma Qurban is Cognism’s award-winning Chief Revenue Officer, leading the company’s sales and marketing departments.

Nazma QurbanShe has been instrumental in creating Cognism’s predictable revenue process and building a successful sales team. Managing the entire sales process, Nazma is credited with overseeing a 600% growth in revenue in 2018 and building a base of over 200 clients, all in just 18 months.

Nazma’s previous roles before joining Cognism were Senior Business Development Manager at Lanyon and Business Development Manager at Red Wolf Recruitment. Nazma has an LLB in Law from Nottingham Trent University.

Last year, Nazma was included in the Top Women Leaders in Saas of 2018 by The SaaS Report.

From gaining work experience in sales at the age of 15 to becoming Chief Revenue Officer at Cognism and being recognised as one of the TopLeaders in SaaS and Top Women in Tech globally, Nazma Qurban is a successful professional driven by her own motivation to develop and grow. Nazma leads a high-performing team of millennials at Cognism and is a firm believer in mentoring, not managing.

Tell us about yourself and your current role

My career didn’t start in sales. I actually studied Law at university, but then I decided it wasn’t right for me. I saw sales as an area where I could grow and develop in quickly, so that was where I set my aspirations. I joined Cognism two years ago as Head of Business Development and played a key role in the setup and running of the London HQ. Now I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at Cognism, leading the sales and marketing arm of the business and driving long term growth.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t intentionally plan my career, but I used my experiences to inform the direction I wanted to take. For me, work experience was invaluable in highlighting what careers I didn’t want to pursue. I believe it’s important to gain experience in multiple professions, so that you can figure out which one genuinely excites you. I found that the environments I strived in, fast-paced and challenging environments, were the ones I enjoyed the most.

I wanted a career that pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and a career in sales definitely does that.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, but most of the challenges I’ve faced are those I’ve imposed on myself. In moments of self-doubt, I’ve set myself goals to help me overcome any obstacles standing in the way of my growth.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date isn’t anything tangible; it is my dedication to my own personal growth. When I started at Cognism two years ago as Head of Business Development, I hadn’t managed anyone before or been in such a senior position. Today I’m Cognism’s Chief Revenue Officer, managing a busy and growing team of salespeople and marketers. I dedicate a lot of time to my own personal growth, and I think more than anything else, that’s helped me to skyrocket my progression professionally as well as personally.

One thing I’m very proud of is helping others to grow in their careers. At Cognism, I’ve had a policy of hiring recent graduates and giving them the very best start to their working lives. Many of them have been promoted quickly and won awards for their work. That’s always been a motivation for me – giving other people a chance and inspiring them to achieve their best.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

My commitment to being the best version of myself has definitely been the major factor behind my success. I’ve always been focused on my own growth, in both my professional and personal lives. How do I do this? By constantly learning, studying and challenging myself. If you have the confidence that you can succeed, as well as having a great team behind you, I believe that nothing can hold you back.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I recently held a talk on motivating millennials, and the primary focus of the discussion was that in order to motivate millennials you need to become a mentor, not a manager. Although I manage when it comes to tasks and things that need completing, I see my primary role as a mentor.

The key to succeeding as a mentor is to create an open relationship and friendship, so that people feel free to talk about their professional and personal challenges. That’s exactly what my mentor, James Isilay, Cognism’s CEO, has done for me. The process of mentoring should be about personal and professional growth; managers look at getting the task done, whereas mentors work with people to help them grow. One of my biggest achievements is helping the graduates I’ve hired to grow personally and professionally, going on to get promoted and receive awards for their contribution to SaaS.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

We are the people who can make changes in the world. I believe having confidence that you can achieve anything is at the heart of this change; instead of viewing my gender as a barrier, I focus on my own strengths, and how I can use them to keep on achieving.

The pace will change when people realise it can change. All we have to do is view ourselves as equals. Women are more likely to achieve what they set out to do if they don’t focus on what could hold them back.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

 I wrote this quote for International Women’s Day and I love it – it’s genuinely the one piece of advice I would have given to my younger self:

“Aspire to become your own role model. Think, is she strong? Does she own the room? Would your younger self look up to her and, most importantly, does your vision give you goosebumps? Create a vision of the role model you aspire to be and focus on becoming it.”

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m constantly thinking about the next step and the next thing I want to achieve. My next challenge is opening Cognism’s US office. The plan is to replicate what we have built in the UK, but within a larger and more competitive market.

Generally, I’m not the type of person that has already planned out the next five years. Instead, I like to focus on executing my short-term goals. I’ll plan three months ahead and ensure I’m working on a daily basis to achieve those goals.