Meet Violeta Martin, Vice President, Commercial Sales EMEA, DocuSign

Violeta Martin

Violeta Martin is Vice President, Commercial Sales EMEA at DocuSign. She has over 15 years’ experience growing and leading high performing teams in a variety of fast growing start-ups and enterprise companies, including Oracle and SAP, thanks to a background in software engineering. In her role at DocuSign, Violeta heads-up the EMEA mid-market sales team, based out of Dublin.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I graduated as a telecommunications engineer from the University of Cartagena, a technical university in my home country of Spain. I’m often mistaken for Columbian because the name Cartagena is better known there, however, my home town is ancient – around 3,000 years old. It’s steeped with history and tradition.

Specialising in software development, I took my first role as an engineer in a software startup in Dublin, but very quickly got a taste for sales. For the past 18 years I have worked for a wide range of businesses, from tech giants like Oracle and SAP to smaller organisations.

I joined DocuSign seven years ago to build its sales development department in EMEA from scratch. Based in Dublin, and starting out with a team of just five – today, I am proud to say that I have built a multicultural team of over 200 commercial sales managers and account executives serving customers across more than 40 different countries.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not exactly; but as you can imagine, there has always been a stigma attached to women pursuing a career in engineering. At university, in a class of 100 students, only five of us were female. Generally, I have always been attracted to a challenge; that exciting startup feeling, where you are creating something new every day, and at speed.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

When choosing to join a company or a particular role I feel it’s important to do it for the right reasons. Short term financial incentives or a glamorous job title are rarely the right reasons! When you are fully committed and passionate about what you do, dealing with challenges or downturns becomes easier. Whether it is an economic recession, a major government regulatory change that impacts your business or a significant business transformation impacting your department – when you are where you want to be, you find the energy to overcome those obstacles.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had wonderful opportunities throughout my career to learn and meet fantastic people, and contribute to businesses in a rewarding way. Since stepping into any of my roles, my goal has been to successfully grow and lead high performing teams while creating an environment where people can learn and also, have fun. I always put this down to two key factors:

  • Smart hiring – I don’t believe in compromise when it comes to filling a role, it’s unfair on both parties. Everything is about people, the team with the best people wins.
  • Culture – No go to market strategy, technology infrastructure or sophisticated process matter if you don’t have the right culture. Culture is what you celebrate, the things you decide to spend time on, how people work with each other, your rituals as a team, the behaviours that are reinforced and the ones that are called out as inappropriate. All those things contribute to the team culture and set the tone for what the team can achieve.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

I am a self-confessed football fanatic and always try to bring my love of team sports into my career. While having the best people is important, how you operate as a team makes the real difference. With effective team dynamics, you get to score and celebrate those goals together. It’s essential you trust and believe in them; and likewise, they in you. You should be willing to do what it takes to ensure they feel valued, supported and prized as a key player in the strategy. Above all, the team should feel that you have their best interests at heart, for as long as they choose to spend with you.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

There are so many factors to this answer, but through a top line lense, it comes down to knowing what opportunities are available to you and being brave enough to create new ones. The technology sector is very dynamic and opportunities are abundant for individuals who add value to those around you. Be the person that contributes to the success of others and it will make you the sort of leader that people want to lead their teams. Drive to be the best that you can be in your current role and never stop learning new things – this will pay dividends in the long run.

Also, be sure to book regular check-ins with your manager or someone overseeing your progression. This will lead to more open and fluid conversations about next steps, and they will most likely have previous experiences that you can draw upon, offering untold insights into your professional development.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

As mentioned, during my studies I was in the minority, as one of only five women in a class of 100 students. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have some way to go. There has been an encouraging increase in women entering the world of engineering, with research showing that 16.5% of those working in engineering are now female, compared to 10.5% reported in 2010 – and long may this continue.

These low numbers should not really be celebrated, but should be seen as a target to increase for the next decade in engineering. This will come down to more open conversations happening around hiring, more thorough searches for talent, and ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard within the industry to encourage more females to enter engineering.

One topic I like to address often is the difference between mentorship and sponsorship. A lot of organisations are investing in formalised mentorship programs. These initiatives are valuable, and women can benefit from them. However, when it comes to real inflection points in your career, what women need are sponsors. A sponsor is the individual who puts their own name behind yours and publicly supports you in taking on additional responsibilities and bigger roles. A sponsor is that person with authority to make decisions and influence who decides to bet on you.

What do you think companies can do to support the progress of the careers of women working in technology?

I think it comes down to the grassroots and starting with the younger generation of women studying to foster great relationships. This could translate into visits to colleges or universities to discuss career progression for women in the industry, creating better access for young women looking to study engineering and STEM subjects, or even just friendly chats and advice from like-minded mentors to help steer their career paths.

Also, look at your business plan and structure and ask some fundamental questions:

  • Why are women more likely to get jobs outside of the engineering sector?
  • What has changed, and what needs to change across the engineering sector to make roles more attractive to women?
  • What can my business do to champion more female engineers?

Starting with these fundamental points will open the door for those tough questions to be answered, breaking down the age-old ‘industry barriers’ of gender-biased job roles. There’s work to do, and it starts with us, with me, as a woman in engineering.

There are currently only 21 percent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

There are two parallel work tracks where traction can be accelerated. The first one is what we do to support the further development of women that have already entered the workspace. Active sponsorship and investment in further development is vital. Creating visibility and celebrating women that have already achieved significant success will encourage others to follow.

The second component is the early education of the future generations. To my surprise, I observed recently through family members that curriculum subjects in boys-only schools are different to those of girl-only schools. It is hard to believe that in today’s world there is such a clear bias represented in early childhood education. Government intervention in creating an equal playing field is as important as the efforts made in the private sector.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

To keep up to date with broader trends in the industry, I find the technology sections of major media publications to be both informative and entertaining. For those looking to get deeper into specific technologies, dedicated developer forums and communities centred on specific topics are widely popular and interactive.