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Spotlight Series: Shalini Palmer, Corporate EMEA VP, Analog Devices

Shalini Palmer, Corporate EMEA VP, Analog Devices

ARTICLE SUMMARY

In the 15 years since joining analog devices, Shalini has led European sales across industrial automotive, consumer, health care and telecoms markets for strategic, key, and broader market customers.

She has a track record for delivering successful sales transformations by building collaborative teams, as well as developing deeper customer engagement.

Making the business world more equal is a passion for Shalini and she is the European Diversity and Inclusion Lead, and a founding member of the Analog Devices Women’s Network.

WE SAT DOWN WITH SHALINI TO FIND OUT HOW SHE LANDED HER ROLE IN TECH, WHAT A TYPICAL WORKING DAY LOOKS LIKE FOR HER, BEING FEARLESS AND HER ADVICE FOR OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

Previously, I was Vice President of Sales for the automotive, communications, and consumer business across EMEA. In this role, my team and I drove strong regional growth for the company, achieving $3B lifetime revenue in new business and doubling the sales pipeline. I was promoted on the back of this impressive commercial performance, which was based on an overarching drive to resolve customers’ pain points through closer collaboration.

My amazing team was integral to this success, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My philosophy is very much “Together we are stronger”. You have to carefully focus on your team to affect true change, identifying gaps and strong suits, then being sure to play to those strengths to achieve the ideal mix of personalities and skills. As a result, you create truly empowered teams which deliver the best results, internally and externally.

As a woman working in the tech and automotive industry, I won’t deny that I have encountered some challenges. However, I have never let this hold me back. In fact, the barriers became motivators, since I was determined not to let naysayers define me as I sought to prove them wrong.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

Analog Devices is one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies and is devising the technologies which will shape our world.  We need a blend of skills from engineers, through to business management and strategy professionals.  Regardless of their role, the people who thrive are those that are curious and solutions orientated.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

Re-invigorating the automotive team at Analog Devices is my proudest moment. I took on the challenge to rebuild that part of the business in 2019, when I was promoted to Vice President of Sales for the automotive, communications, and consumer business across EMEA.

Specifically, the team’s overall performance needed to improve faster, so I immediately set about turning the division around. The transformation involved hiring new talent, redeploying skills, and connecting with the business units in terms of alignment. In 3 years, we put the business back onto a growth path, with my strategy driving significant regional growth for the company, securing $3bn lifetime revenue in new business.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? 

Now that the Covid pandemic has become a distant memory, I’m travelling three weeks in four. 

Wherever I am, you’ll find me meeting people, establishing connections and listening to their goals and objectives. For customers, I focus on what big challenges they’re trying to solve, and with my team it’s all about motivating them and ensuring we’re going to surpass expectations.

I use travel time for deeper focused work and reflection, and when I get a rare day at home, I make sure I fit in some yoga and time outside with my family. As is always the case when working in an international business, there are late nights and early starts!

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

Interest in innovation and curiosity about the world around us and an ability to problem solve are critical traits. Knowledge in a particular technology and deep-domain expertise are always highly sought after but more important is being able to demonstrate learning flexibility in any area of technology. Insights into how the tech landscape will evolve and the impact on our customers’ businesses, and able to think at a higher level in terms of emerging technologies like advanced 5G, 6G, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, cyber security threats, and much more. This knowledge is critical to stay one step ahead of the game, especially in constantly changing industries where only the most cutting-edge innovations are taken seriously.

The latest skills needed in tech sales specifically? An ability to listen well and translate the customer challenges into mutual growth opportunities. High learning agility and adaptability are essential traits as you’ve got be able to grasp technical knowledge and work out how it fits the constantly changing markets we’re addressing. Other key skills are being able to connect the dots in terms of the competitive landscape you’re working within. Then of course you’ve got have impeccable communication skills and not be shy of navigating complexity.

The best employers know that soft skills are just as important as hard skills and paper qualifications, including resilience, empathy, cultural awareness, decision-making, and collaboration.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

Honestly, there could have been a lot more support when I first started out. Today, many tech firms have mentoring and coaching programmes in place and are reaping the rewards of nurturing talent in-house. More and more talented women are climbing the career ladder and reaching the C-suite, but if the industry had been more active 20 years ago, we might not have such a glaring gender gap today. 

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Nowadays I’m fearless, but that wasn’t the case earlier on!

When you feel like you’re out of your comfort zone, you should view it as an exciting opportunity, rather than let insecurities fester. You’ve got to be confident and vocal as a woman in this field. I had to be intentional to speak up and be heard and luckily I had strong advocates around me that helped, but now it comes naturally.

Sheer determination and drive also count for a lot. You must keep powering forward, and not be deterred by minor setbacks. Aspiring leaders need strong role models, which is why I’m so committed to leading by example – supporting, coaching, and mentoring others.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? 

Ask for honest feedback and make the best use of what you are told. Ask your managers for advice, tips, and practical help at times when you feel stretched. If you don’t get that promotion, ask why and ensure you have detailed feedback, so you know what to change or improve.

Too often, women with all the right skills and abilities to rise in the ranks fail to do so because they don’t feel ready to make the next move until they have perfected every aspect of their current role. Men are more likely to move on self-assuredly, regardless of mastering everything or not. So, my advice is to take a little bit of a chance. If you wait too long, you miss the opportunity. Unfortunately, producing brilliant work and assuming others will notice is not enough.

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