For University and VMware Sales Academy graduate, Neils van Iwaarden, finding a workplace community that aligns with his personal values and professional goals is important. Get Niels’ take on participating in the VMware Sales Academy, and hear how strategic learning and development opportunities driven by people invested in his growth have empowered him to advance as an IT Sales professional in Cork, Ireland.
Name: Niels van Iwaarden
Role: Inside Sales Associate
VMware Office Location: Cork, Ireland
Fill in the blank: Dare to be the best.
Knowing Who You Are to Launch a Career in Sales
I absolutely love working and talking with people. Knowing this and the fact that I have an outgoing personality, a career in Sales seemed the right fit for me. During my internship with the U.S. Embassy, I received my first introduction to Sales through my work in the Commercial Services Department. Later, during my Board year with Asset | Economics, a study association related to Tilburg University, I gained further knowledge in Sales as the External Affairs Officer. The work I did covered both cold calling as well as warm calling, setting up events and being responsible for projects. This served as an excellent base for the VMware Sales Academy.
I leaped at the opportunity to start my Sales career at VMware. Nothing is more exciting for me than building relationships with both customers and partners, as well as helping shape a deal to both of their likings. I also enjoy consulting, which I’ve been able to practice during my 8-months as an Inside Sales Associate.
An Insider’s Look at the VMware Sales Academy
The VMware Sales Academy is a two-year training program that focuses on soft and hard skills that empower new graduates to launch a successful career in Information Technology Sales. An external speaker was brought in to help us develop several of these skills. This individual helped us get comfortable in new situations, and helped to find our strengths and weaknesses. Since every participant in the VMware Sales Academy is starting his or her professional life, the focus is also on team building and growing a network inside of VMware. In the weeks following the start of the 2015 VMware Sales Academy in Cork, Ireland, my coworkers and I had the opportunity to meet a variety of colleagues, including our managers and Buddies (former graduates of the VMware Sales Academy). We met them during special events set up for us, such as dinners, workshops and master classes.
One of the most interesting weeks during the VMware Sales Academy was when we participated in START (the onboarding program for Sales new hires), which took place in VMware’s Staines, UK office. Through product trainings and workshops, we developed a holistic understanding of VMware’s product portfolio and role in the IT marketplace from more senior colleagues in the company.
After the first two months in the Academy, it was time to hit the floor and hit the phones. During the first calls, I was shadowed and coached by my Buddy. It was a great way to receive real-time feedback on my work. In the months to follow, I took on more responsibilities until I was ready to take on my own territory. These responsibilities include handling deal registrations from partners, working on under $20,000 deals and creating more pipeline for the territory executives. Taking on a territory means being fully responsible for a certain market/geography and being the executive here. Sales Academy participants have the opportunity to drive business and collaborate closely with field sales.
Growth & Development in the VMware Sales Academy
For me, the biggest takeaway of participating in the VMware Sales Academy were the skills I developed. During my academic career, I developed important skills like academic thinking and analyzing. However, beginning my first job after university showed me that I still have room for growth. By receiving extensive training in the first few months of my career, I was able to identify my current strengths and areas that I can further develop as a new professional in Sales.
Another aspect of the VMware Sales Academy that stood out for me was the importance of creating meaningful connections. By participating in START and having a manager and Buddy, I saw how the employee community at VMware valued who I was and what I could contribute to the company.
Finally, VMware really invested in my personal and professional development. Whatever I wanted to achieve, there was always someone there willing to help me work through ideas to find the best solution to achieve my goals. From financial assistance to pursue additional training and education to online tools to develop myself further, I know that I can count on the community at VMware to listen to my questions and share their advice along my journey to growth.
Taking Flight at VMware
The VMware Flight Program helps new graduates transition into their new career after graduation. Realizing that professional life is completely different from university life, the Flight program helped me take the necessary first steps to launch a successful career post university. Additionally, the Flight Program provided additional insight into VMware’s IT solutions, which really helped me with customer conversations. The big difference between START and Flight is that Flight is a long-term program, which is especially focused on new graduates, while START is only a week and designed for Sales new hires.
Advice for New Grads Interested in Pursuing a Career in Sales in Ireland
The best advice would be: Just do it. Ireland and Cork itself are wonderful, with a lot of friendly people, pubs, and nice restaurants. Having lived in Brussels, Belgium and London, Canada already, I can easily adapt to different cultures, and the Irish culture is close to the Dutch one, which made it easy for me to make the move to Ireland.
The key for the job interview is to be yourself. Every conversation in Sales is different, so you need to be flexible, which in my opinion is a personality trait. Be confident and you might be my next colleague!
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