Culture

Spotlight: Will May’s journey from Sales Rep to Vice President of WW Inside Sales

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Summary
Will May, VP of WW Inside Sales at AppDynamics, shares details of his career journey, his thoughts on managing a work-life balance, and the importance of hiring for diversity in the workplace.

At AppDynamics, we have leaders that have grown within the company and who have helped define our values and culture. Will May is one of those leaders. In his 6 years at AppDynamics, he has directly participated in working towards AppD’s key initiatives, cultivating a global culture of inclusivity, positivity, and entrepreneurial energy. While AppD’s culture has adapted over the years, one thing that has been consistent is its goal in making AppD a place for passionate people. We got a chance to sit with Will and delve into his career progression at AppDynamics. Will shared details of his career journey, his thoughts on managing a work-life balance, and the importance of hiring for diversity in the workplace. Read more.

How did you end up at AppDynamics after college?

I went to Baylor University, which is in Texas and has a sales-specific major. Through internships, shadowing, and networking, I narrowed down the decision to start my career in Technology Sales. My first job out of college was at McAfee doing Inside Sales. About a year and a half later, Dali Rajic and my old boss, Sean Andrew, moved to AppDynamics. I was indirectly connected to those leaders who ended up bringing me over to AppD.

What has your career progression looked like at AppD?

I joined in the Fall of 2012 as a Sales Rep, and at the time we were just building out the Dallas office — the 2nd AppD office. By Fall of 2013, I was promoted to be a people manager in both Dallas and San Francisco. Basically, I was managing an Inside Sales team in two different regions.

What is the best advice that has helped you to become successful?

The best career advice I received was not specifically for sales professionals, but really for anyone. The first piece of advice was to invest in your personal brand from day one and develop the habits of discipline that you want to build early on. So, for me, it was getting into the office early and trying to stay late for the first months of my career here. Next was the importance of not only building relationships with people in your immediate organization or team, but also building relationships and bridges across the ecosystem, and doing that by being curious.

How do you manage your work-life balance with two young kids and a family? You mentioned coming in late and staying late.

It’s tough to find balance. But for me, it’s all about putting in intentional thought into how you prioritize things. Whenever I’m at work, I try to be present and make the time there worth it. And at home, like you said, with two young kids and my wife, it’s about spending time and being present with them. I used to be a lot more social with my friends outside of work. And now, the people that I work with are my friends, so it’s easier to balance those relationships. While investing in my career at this time of my life is a priority, family remains one of the most important factors in my life. So, I intentionally maximize my time in both of those areas as efficiently as possible.

How has having a diverse team or a diverse hire helped you grow your team?

When I first moved into leadership, my instinct was to turn everyone into me, if that makes sense. I know what my sales strengths are and I wanted to get everyone to that same level. I soon realized that’s not the best way to get the best results out of people. It’s really about finding the level of what individuals are successful at and having them play to what their strengths are. So, I’m really big on identity and having people understand what they’re good at.

By hiring people with a diverse set of strengths and unique skills, our team has a broader skill set and strength base to pull from. The first intern that I hired was a woman, and the second leader that I hired externally was also a woman. As we started to build out our BDR team, we recruited people from diverse backgrounds and we looked at people who had different sets of experiences outside of just technology. Now, at our Dallas office, there are about 150 employees, and there’s such a nice balance of diversity across every front. I feel the combined collaborative product of our office is really able to outperform. The best example of this is this past year, where we delivered our best-ever financial results as an office, and I would say our office is more diverse than it’s ever been.

What keeps you here at AppD?

What originally brought me here is what has kept me here. AppD has given me the ability to grow — personally, professionally, and financially. Just by the nature of being part of a hyper-growth tech company, you have to do more than your core job. There are always new challenges and new learning opportunities. That’s first and foremost the personal interest for me.

In terms of the culture at AppD, the people make it an enjoyable place to be. If you look at Glassdoor, it’s obvious that people love working here, and if you walk around our Dallas office, I think you’ll feel that as well. People generally get along and are excited when other people succeed. It’s a very positive environment with great energy that you want to surround yourself with.

What are your thoughts on the remote and global aspects of the job, and what’s your take on making it an inclusive environment for people who don’t work out of the Dallas office?

That’s an interesting question and I’ll answer it in two parts. Being that Dallas is a satellite office, it’s remote from the HQ in San Francisco, and because of that, there are some pros and cons. The main pro being that you are able to create your own subculture, and the main con being that we have to work a little harder on communication to stay connected to the strategic company-wide initiatives.

On the global side, it’s even more challenging because there are a number of roles that roll up into inside and commercial sales, and all of which have different ways of management. So, in order to be successful, we have to create a foundation where it’s easy to be inclusive globally. To create this foundation, we aim to work towards the company’s strategic vision of fostering an inclusive and positive culture and making AppDynamics a place where passionate people work. Programs such as the Sales Kickoff, QBRs, and Sales Enablement “Boot Camp” are organized to create opportunities to bring people from all over to build these global bridges. And while building an inclusive culture globally is challenging, it’s also very rewarding to be able to see these relationships being created.

Is there anything that we haven’t mentioned that you think is an important part of your success and growth story?

Yes, of course! I want to give a plug to our book club. It’s just another example of the inclusive culture here. It’s not just top-down — it’s made of everyone. A rep (Sam Crawford) had an idea to start a book club and we’re now on our third book. We just read Lean In. This past one had our best turnout, where more than 40% of our office read the book and participated in the discussion. There were some points of the book that really facilitated great conversation, leading to a more in-depth understanding of other people’s worldviews.

Will May is VP of WW Inside Sales at AppDynamics.

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