Inspirational Woman: Diane Albano | Chief Revenue Officer, Globalization Partners

Diane AlbanoDiane Albano has led high-performance sales teams for more than three decades, and is recognised for her strategic expertise in managing complex sales and services organizations.

She has extensive international experience establishing and growing global markets, including Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

Diane is passionate about leading and developing organisations to achieve success and exponential growth, all while combining fun, motivation, integrity, and inspiration.

Diane holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Massachusetts and attended the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her family, skiing, golfing, playing tennis, scuba diving, and traveling the world.

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

My name is Diane Albano and I am the Chief Revenue Officer at Globalization Partners, leading our global customer facing teams. I joined the company in 2019 and focus on go-to-market strategy, delivering and optimising our revenue models and creating new business channels. In a nutshell, it’s my role to make sure that customers are satisfied, and we are meeting and exceeding their business needs.

I have an expanding team of over 110+ sales and marketing professionals, and what we do is very technology-driven and marketing- and revenue-orientated. In my position, I am very much spearheading the use of technology to scale and grow the business, and without giving away any ‘trade secrets’, we have what we call our “tech stack” – it’s something we see as really valuable and sets us apart from our competitors in the global Employer of Record (EOR) market. I also focus on our partner strategy and growing our network of partners globally.

In my 30 years in the industry, I have led a number of high-performance sales teams at organizations such as Ipswitch Inc., SmartBear Inc., Deltek Inc., Progress Software, Aspen Technology and Genuity. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts and attended the Executive Management Development programme at Harvard Business School. The programme was a compilation of 110 executives from around the world and all walks of life, though only nine of whom were women. It was an invaluable experience, learning from professionals and really did help shape me in becoming a stronger business leader. It was an intense decision for me to attend Harvard, though since it entailed attending classes six days a week for 4 months and at that time, I had a two-year-old and a five-year-old. It was tough but I had a great support system around me and I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What Harvard taught me was that I wanted to do more… Once I completed the programme, the company I worked for at the time put me in charge of its aerospace division – a billion-dollar business unit. I managed everything from sales to marketing to R&D and the position allowed me to travel the world. A key highlight for me was the opportunity to hire Gene Cernan, who was part of the third group of astronauts to participate in the Gemini and Apollo space programs and was the last man to land on the moon. I also had the opportunity to work with Tom Short, ex-NASA who was in charge of a lot of the lift-offs in the 1960s. It was kind of cool to be a young person and have these very experienced people in aerospace working for me. It taught me a lot and grew me as a professional.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To be quite honest, I never did. I was able to move through the ranks at my first company which was early in my career. It was a big company; the management team was really supportive and helped me to craft my career path. When I left, I joined a smaller company and all of a sudden there was less support and I had to rely more on myself, which helped to sharpen my skills and grow my independence.

At the same time, I’ve always been a competitive person, and had a strong desire to be number one. If there was a competition to be had, I wanted to win. I’ll never forget in one sales contest I won 11 TVs – one for everyone in my family! I remember when I first competed in our President’s Club (annual technical sales contest), my manager said to me “you won’t win it in your first year”, and I thought “why, why not?”. I not only won it, but I was the number one salesperson in the country that year.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

There are all kinds of experiences that you have – personal and professional – that shape you. Professionally, one of the biggest challenges has been the glass or concrete ceiling. That can be a huge barrier for women and was more prevalent when I was younger. I was told quite often “you can’t do this, or you can’t do that”. I have felt it in many different instances throughout my career, but today I feel I have been liberated beyond comprehension. I feel so lucky to be working for a company like Globalization Partners and under our founder and CEO, Nicole Sahin, who appreciates every kind of person.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

For me, leading big sales teams and seeing revenue grow is a proud achievement. It’s hard to do but so rewarding!

In 2000, I grew my team from 500 to 900 people in less than a year. Revenue growth was $200 million to $600 million. But then the internet bubble burst and everything changed. Fast forward to now and my current role at Globalization Partners, revenue has more than doubled – and still growing!

For me, my motto is “customer first”. I learned as a young professional just how important it was to ensure the customer is satisfied and make sure their experience is a good one. Everything from your first encounter with them as a prospect to onboarding them as a customer, every step is crucial in earning their trust and loyalty.

Other achievements of note I would consider… In 1992, I was the first female on the Aerospace Industry Association board (AIA), that at the time was all men. Also, early in my career, I closed a massive deal with Raytheon to militarize the Digital chip set.  To this day after Digital Equipment Corp was acquired by Compaq and later Hewlett Packard the company is still seeing royalties flowing from this partnership.

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

There’s no doubt that it was my parents and the work ethic they imparted on me. It included encouraging me to get up early, lots of chores, getting a job from a young age, to go to university. My dad was an inventor and has 13 patents with the company he worked for. He invented bulletproof vests, the space blanket that was used for astronauts, hieroglyphics lighters. My mum raised six children and worked. I come from a line of hard workers, so it’s just been a part of the fabric that I grew up with. Not to mention my husband who since day one that we met has cheered me on and mentored me throughout my adult career.

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

I have had mentors throughout my career, and I love to mentor people too. I’ve had different mentors and am so thankful for all the guidance I’ve received over the years, especially at pivotal points in my life. I do believe in it and I think it’s an important thing.

What’s important in being a mentor is to listen and actually hear – and then deciphering what your mentee needs. Being able to say “that makes sense, let’s work on these areas for you…” or “that doesn’t make sense, you need to read some books on this” and be able to impart specific guidance and advice to that individual based on their experience and where they want to take their career. I also think experience is a huge part of being a good mentor. You need to have lived and worked through a lot to be able to come up with different conclusions and new ideas. One thing that bothers me are people that don’t have original thoughts – who “cookie cutter” everything. When it comes to mentoring, there isn’t – or shouldn’t be – a one-size-fits-all approach. For me, embracing others and coming up with an individual plan for your mentee is really important.

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

Diversity at the top. But, of course, it all starts at school. Encouraging girls and boys in their learning, what they’re learning, how they’re learning, and the career paths they choose. We all know it’s taken a long time to close the gap and get more women to aspire to go into science, technology and STEM industries.

I think it’s important for business leaders to make sure the balance is there. It’s not always going to be 50/50, but it can’t be disproportionate. Like when I was at Harvard, less than 10% in the class were women. It needs to be 30 percent, 40 percent.

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

There were times when I was very impatient. I raced into things and I think it’s an area where I should have sat back and reviewed things a bit more. I am grateful that I have had mentors, role models and teachers along the way that taught me lessons, like patience, and instilled wisdom in me.

My advice to my younger self would be to be more reflective, to not get ahead of yourself and appreciate everything for what it is.

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

I want to be a role model for women, like my incredible daughter, but not necessarily just for women. We all share the same attributes and want to work towards the same goals, so I want to be someone who is approachable and someone that people can say “hey, can I learn from you” to. For instance, I lost my son a few years ago and we set up a scholarship at Bentley University where he went to college, we sponsor a student through their college career. To me, that’s important. It was a school that made him the great professional and executive that he was, so I want to give more time and credit to that too.

I also want to see Globalization Partners go all the way to the top, to become the de facto standard. We already are number one and recently named an Industry Leader in NelsonHall’s 2020 Global Employer of Record Research Report, but I want us to be beyond reach number one. Also, we aspire to be known as a good company – and a company that does good, and for that to be felt around the world. “Globalization Partners” is going to be a verb… like “to Google”, just you wait and see.

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