“You should really focus on being an active listener. You can learn from others and gain opportunities. Once you’ve had those opportunities to learn, put that into action.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, GreyCastle Security is highlighting some of the women in leadership positions at the organization. We are very proud to have amazing women in leadership positions here, and all the women at GreyCastle Security make valuable contributions every day.
We sat down with Business Development Manager Erin Manning to pick her brain on how to best move up the career ladder, and how she successfully transitioned from sales to management. Erin really believes in the importance of seeking out learning opportunities throughout your career. Whether it’s formal training or listening to those around you, continuously improving your skillset is the way to go. Simply attending trainings or passively listening isn’t enough; Erin says one of her keys to success is making an effort to apply what she’s learned to her work, piece by piece.
Erin’s career advice? Your best resource is the people around you. Whether they’re direct reports, peers, or supervisors, your teammates can teach you and inspire you to do better.
What do you do here at GreyCastle Security?
I manage one of the sales teams here. My team focuses heavily on our higher education customers and prospects.
You stated as a Solutions Specialist and had several promotions to your current leadership role. What was that progression like?
The progression was a lot of fun. I came into GreyCastle because of the people here. I have been family friends with one of the cofounders for most of my life, but what was fun for me – once I really got involved in GreyCastle and started to understand the organization and what we did – was really finding a passion for cybersecurity. What we’re doing is really, truly helping people. The progression for me was really about taking on more and figuring out different ways that I could contribute, both internally and externally. I was learning from the GreyCastle Security team and from our customers.
What skills or qualities were most helpful in getting to a management position?
Listening skills can be unusual in a professional setting. It’s important to show up, participate when you can, add value when you can, but you should really focus on being an active listener. You can learn from others and gain opportunities. Once you’ve had those opportunities to learn, put that into action. Take advantage of opportunities to do more, whether that’s learning about a product or learning how to navigate customer conversations. It really helps the business feel better about you moving up the career ladder, and it also helps build your skillset.
What advice do you have for other women looking for management positions in male-dominated industries or companies?
I was lucky. In my first role outside of college, I worked for a female leader, so I had a unique advantage. I didn’t directly experience a lot of the adverse impact of being a woman in the workforce. Over time, though, my reporting structure has gotten more diverse. It’s about being true to yourself. There’s a lot of influences, and there’s a lot of different opinions on how to manage your career and how to be a woman in the workforce. Identifying early on who you are and being authentic to yourself is what will help you be successful and navigate situations as they come up.
What resources have you found most helpful in your career development?
My best resource has been people. If you form relationships with your coworkers, your peers, or people outside your organization, you can learn from everyone. It doesn’t matter if they are in a senior leadership position or a boots-on-the-ground role. I really believe in being open to different influences and learning from others.
There’s a lot of different trainings available, and there’s good information in them, but what’s important is that I leverage what I’ve learned and implement it in my day-to-day. That has always been a priority for me – not necessarily changing your whole methodology based on a single training, but figuring out ways to incorporate that into your natural working style.
What from your career are you most proud of? What are you really happy with right now?
I have always been extremely customer-focused, and I get a ton of joy out of being customer-focused. Truthfully, I was really nervous about moving into a team leadership position, where my role is more focused on coaching others than interacting with customers. What I’m most proud of is how fulfilling it’s become for me, mentoring others, working in partnership with my team, and seeing them grow and be successful. Most of the individuals on my team have grown from a similar position that I started with at GreyCastle. They started in inside sales roles and have progressed in performance and responsibility. That’s definitely what I’m most proud of: being able to help my team.
That’s great! How else are you supporting the growth of your team members?
We do quite a bit of training from a sales perspective, but we also do quite a bit of coaching and holding each other accountable. I truly believe that you shouldn’t ask people to do things that you’re not willing to do yourself, so I like to be very hands-on with the team and make sure that everybody has a voice.