Vivun is committed to Bolstering Women in Solution Excellence

Taylor Bukowski Avatar photo

Like most people in PreSales, I didn’t realize where my natural curiosity and creative problem solving skills would lead me right away, but Sales Operations turned out to be a fantastic place to start my journey. Since my early days as a Salesforce Administrator, it’s been incredibly exciting to see this function grow into a highly strategic field with a wide array of backgrounds and skills. As a woman in PreSales, seeing diversity prioritized is extremely inspiring, and I am committed to supporting ladies in solutioning from the inside out at Vivun. 

It’s no secret that many of us at Vivun (including our PreSales leader Brett Crane, co-founders Matt Darrow and John Bruce, and others) spent some time at a company called Zuora. This is also where I hail from most recently. Zuora is where I got my solutions chops: sharpening my demo skills, learning how to sell value, and getting exposed to deals of all types and sizes. It was there that I doubled down on my career in PreSales. At the time, I didn’t really internalize the fact that I was so often the only woman in the room. Like everyone else I know in my line of work, men and women alike, I struggled with clunky systems and processes that slowed me down. When I heard that a team of former Zuora employees started Vivun to improve the lives of PreSales, I had to check it out! From the very first phone call I had with our CEO Matt Darrow, I was hooked. His mission was clear, and his passion was evident. I knew instantly that this was something big, and I wanted to be a part of it.

So, now that I’m here at Vivun, giving back to the PreSales community every day, it’s time to give back to women in solutions, too. For a long time, I think that I sort of accepted that being the only woman in the room was a normal thing when you work in more technical roles. Whether I was the only female on a team or in a meeting, it wasn’t even something people noticed. Eventually, I had the opportunity to work with women who became my mentors, and this made me realize we really have to do something about the gender imbalance that is so present and yet so often unaddressed. Every female I’ve worked with brings invaluable, unique insights to their teams. I’ve seen that women often have demo styles, approaches to problem solving, and even mannerisms that differ from their male counterparts. This naturally creates a really dynamic and far-reaching team. I also love what I do! I love the idea of getting others excited about PreSales and highlighting paths that women can take to break into the space.

So, I am starting an affiliate program at Vivun called WISE, or Women in Solutions Excellence.

The Vivun chapter of WISE is part of a bigger women’s initiative spearheaded by the PreSales Collective (PSC), the largest global community of PreSales professionals arming PreSales professionals with the resources, knowledge, network, and mentorship to develop long, impactful careers. I won’t lie; when I started to think about creating a WISE chapter at Vivun, it was overwhelming. Around that time, my co-worker Grace Barney, a Sales Development Representative (SDR), at Vivun reached out to me expressing interest in PreSales. She asked if I would consider mentoring her. I was thrilled, and it immediately sparked the idea in my head that Grace would be such a great addition to a group like WISE because she represents exactly the type of women and allies that I am hoping to appeal to. Not just those that are already in the field, but those that are interested in PreSales but are unsure how to break into that space. Fast forward a few weeks, and here are Grace and I co-founding the WISE chapter at Vivun. By creating this open and inclusive group, we hope to educate others on ways they can translate their skill into the PreSales space or even learn new skill sets from our sessions that will help them continue on their path in PreSales.

Vivun’s WISE Launch Plan – AKA ideas to steal for your own chapter!

Grace and I are taking a “land and expand” strategy. After rallying a core group of supporters across the company, we are getting ready to launch our internal kick off, and all Vivun employees are invited to gather feedback and share ideas as a precursor to our first public event in May. It’s important to have cross-functional support. At Vivun, I’m building partnerships at every level, from the SDR team to Product Marketing and our co-founders. With our internal allies in place soon, we’ll be ready to extend our network so keep an eye out for updates!

Leverage Existing Tools

I’d love to take credit for everything we are doing, but PSC makes it really easy to get a chapter up and running and lean on those who have done this before. PSC has an incredible network of women who can help. They also provide many resources to help you start your own chapter including an indispensable playbook which you can request on their website.

Make it Fun, Make it Timely

Grace thought of a unique way to drum up excitement for our kick-off event with a March Madness bracket competition hosted by our WISE chapter. We have a lot of co-ed sports fanatics here at Vivun, and we knew this would get people engaged and help us build allies, but more importantly, we knew it would create inclusion for an event where many women feel sidelined. So, even if every lady at Vivun isn’t a college basketball buff, it’s a chance to participate and gain some insights on the topic of March Madness that will inevitably come up around the virtual watercooler.

Be Intentional

We started by organizing our vision and goals to help shape what would become our mission statement and core values. Once we realized that we wanted to focus on networking, enablement, and diversity, the rest started to fall into place. We are holding our kick-off event internally to gather feedback, workshop ideas and develop allies before we hold our first public event in May 2021.

In terms of my personal goals for this group, it comes down to education and enablement. If I had access to groups like WISE earlier in my career, I may have found myself in PreSales lot sooner. If you had asked me even 2-3 years ago if I thought I would find myself in a Solution Engineering role, I probably would have said, “What is Solution Engineering?”. I am living proof that career paths are ever-changing, evolving, and the solution engineering role ended up being the perfect blend of what I was looking for, I just initially didn’t know it existed!

I want to share my experience with like minded ladies. Whether they are well into their career journey and looking for a change or just getting started, I want to provide a space to share experiences and highlight the dynamic, exciting, and creative nature of PreSales. I believe this is how we can naturally introduce more women into this profession and community. If I can help even one more woman realize her passion for PreSales, I will feel I have made an impact.

Join us at Vivun in discovering, inspiring, and developing the next generation of female PreSales professionals. Keep the conversation going in our slack community. Join the #WISE channel to collaborate.

Taylor Bukowski Avatar photo March 25, 2021