Inspirational Woman: Justine Harris | UK&I Sales Director, Datto

Justine HarrisJustine Harris is UK&I sales director for Datto. Leading a team of almost 40 sales professionals, she is responsible for meeting sales targets for the region.

Justine is an experienced sales leader with an outstanding record in identifying growth opportunities, and she has strong experience in managing sales teams that develop lucrative global accounts.

Justine is a driven leader and team player who embraces a multicultural approach and an aptitude to inspire change. She develops collaborative internal and external relationships by effectively managing clients and teams where everyone is invested in “the win.”

Justine’s philanthropic passion has led to kayaking around Papua New Guinea, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity, and running sponsored events in support of Tibetan exiles in India. Justine is an advocate for WomenInTech, STEM, and global philanthropy.

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

I am from Sydney, Australia, and moved to Henley-on-Thames in 1995 for work. Being near the water is important for me, which was a big reason for me choosing Henley-on-Thames as my new home, plus it felt much calmer than London.

I have worked in sales for over 20 years, and I joined Datto, Inc., a provider of cloud-based software and technology solutions delivered by managed service providers, in November 2019 to oversee the UK&I sales team. Servicing over 2,300 partners in the region, I am charged with meeting the UK&I sales targets and ensuring my team provides the best experience for our partners.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?  

A couple of family friends worked in the IT sector and seeing the enjoyment that their job bought them, and their successful career paths they had paved for themselves, encouraged me to look for an opportunity in the same space. I had always worked in customer facing, people orientated positions, so thought if I could mix both, it would be a WIN-WIN, as technology was disrupting the world (even 30 years ago), and I knew that was the space for me!

One of the key driving forces behind my career strategy is to drive the change often needed in sales organisations, and provide a positive impact to the company and my team members. I like to set an example of how challenges can be overcome, and how there are no limits to what determination can achieve. Working in a sales organisation provides me with a purpose to succeed, not only for myself but for my team. I like to think that I am relatable and approachable, and I will always empower my team to remove any roadblocks to set themselves up for success.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

The challenges I’ve faced were more decisions and choices that I had to make, no real challenges per se. Sometimes things don’t work out as you had planned, so you need to decide if you let that stop you dead in your tracks, or if you reset, re-evaluate and move ahead. In hindsight, sometimes things don’t happen for a (good) reason!

What has been your biggest achievement to date? 

One of the biggest achievements in my career was relocating from Australia to the UK for a role at Pentana Solutions (previously International Business Systems). Having worked for the company for two years in Sydney, I was given the opportunity to build a European sales team, based in the UK. This was a big opportunity for me, not only for my career, but also on a personal level, moving to a new country alone and not knowing anyone.

After making some in-roads into Europe and recruiting a local sales team, I was soon given the opportunity to extend my sales remit into the US and Mexico, followed by a global role.

I grew the business exponentially from Europe to the Americas, with the support of a couple of salespeople that I recruited and brought on net new accounts.

I am proud of my achievements, including doubling the revenue in the US within the first two years of being in a global role, and achieving steady year-on-year growth in Europe. I was also awarded a place in the Presidents Club.

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

A major factor for me is not being afraid to fail – in fact, this is my mantra. If you do fail, fail fast and correct your course. I believe it’s important to analyse why a certain initiative didn’t work and what you can do differently next time. It is also essential to keep asking questions – and look for mentors who can provide guidance throughout your career.

I am determined to achieve and will keep pushing myself to learn. Through experience I have learnt that it is essential to set a great example to your team of how challenges can be overcome. I learnt a lot when I relocated to the UK. Moving to a new country gave me the opportunity to experience new cultures in the workplace, and travelling alone motivated me to ask for help from my colleagues.

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

I feel that mentoring is integral to a person’s success. It can benefit everyone by encouraging and empowering the mentee to achieve their career goals.

I am currently mentoring an Olympic rower. With the Tokyo Olympics sadly cancelled due to the pandemic, he decided to embark on a career change and move into IT sales. I am working with him to look at how he can transfer his skills from being a rower for GB Olympics to an IT sales environment. He is used to spending 90% of his time training, preparing and conditioning for the Olympics – with only 10% of his time actually competing. And importantly, he is used to staying focused and keeping his ‘eye on the prize’. I am finding this to be an amazing experience, one of which I am learning a lot from.

I have also been a mentee. During my role in the UK, I received exceptional guidance from one of my senior managers, who helped me to develop in my role. He taught me how to understand international legal contracts and undertake contract negotiations and contract clause changes. Still a mentor to me today, my colleague empowered me to make suggestions on how I could help my employer grow, an experience I still reflect on today.

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

To encourage more women into the IT sector, for example, I would communicate and engage more with women to explain the benefits of joining this industry. While it is incredibly fast moving, it is an exciting sector to be in with many opportunities to learn and advance your career.

More diverse leadership to include female perspectives at board level would also encourage women into the sector. Senior female figures can provide important mentorship and coaching to women looking for guidance in their career, and are likely to retain more female employees as they set an example as to how to achieve a successful career in IT.

It goes without saying that offering equal benefits, pay and promotional opportunities for women and men would also encourage more women to consider a role in the IT sector.

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

Don’t be afraid to fail – it’s important to try everything and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. Take the time to reflect on what you have learnt from the experience.  I would also tell myself to not be afraid to ask for help – always take on board the advice that your managers, mentors and peers give to you. Importantly, I don’t have any regrets – are there things I’d do differently? Yes, but definitely no regrets!

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

I’m very competitive, so ensuring that I continue to exceed expectations in my role and helping my team develop and grow is a continued challenge for me.  Outside of work, I would like to learn to play golf, the challenge is prioritising time and finding the patience!

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