A #LifeAtVeritas Interview with Steve Boissonnier - Creating a Successful IT Sales Career

Hello VOX Readers! I hope you are all staying well and healthy in this challenging time – it is important to look after yourself both physically and mentally. In this latest #LifeAtVeritas interview, I recently caught up with Steve Boissonnier, Enterprise Sales Representative, based in France. I always find it fascinating how people got into their careers and what choices lead them to work at Veritas. Steve mentions he thought he wanted a career in finance but swiftly realised it wasn’t for him and started his successful IT sales career. It is great to read how Steve’s mentors have influenced and challenged him, as well as the success he has had here at Veritas. Plus I loved his working from home tips. Read Steve’s interview below.

Meet Steve BoissonnierMeet Steve BoissonnierZoe: Steve, what made you choose a career in IT?
Steve:  Well, it was a mix of luck and inspiration. When I was a teenager, I loved to watch movies involving sales skills and people (Boiler Room, Rounders, and Glengarry Glen Ross), and I also played Texas Hold’em a lot, which developed my interest in strategy and negotiations.

After my bachelor’s degree in management, I wanted to pursue a career in finance, so I joined a one-year internship in mergers and acquisitions. After that experience it made me realize finance wasn’t made for me, and I needed something else. Back then I was President of my university’s alumni, organizing graduations, open days, and cocktail parties. The head of the management department at Université Panthéon Sorbonne reached out to me to have a look at his master’s degree and classes because he felt I would be a good fit for me. I then enrolled in the sales and negotiation master’s degree at La Sorbonne and started my formal education in sales. Whilst studying, a former student presented his job at the time, he was a sales rep in an IT company. That presentation really resonated with me and that’s how I found my current career path. This person also mentors me within my career choices and is now a close friend of mine I still seek advice from.

Zoe: Do you have any career advice for those trying to secure their first IT role?
Steve: You need to learn as much as you can during your first work experience in this ever-changing world. We all know a first role is no longer the last one, nor is the company you choose to work for.

Picking the right manager, whatever the company, is key in learning everything you possibly can and building great self-competences. When you’re applying for your first role, you usually have the pressure to secure a job quickly, but you must take the time to wisely choose your manager. My first manager was exceptional. He taught me so much that I still am using those skills today in my own way, I’m grateful for that.

The second piece of advice would be to make your own luck. Meet with your peers, customers, alumni, and friends. There’s always room for an opportunity that can help you improve your career. This is how I joined a top company such as Veritas, and NetApp before that.

Zoe: What has been your career highlight to date? And what are you most proud of?
Steve: My career highlight so far is my performance during FY19, in which I reached the top 15 performers’ club at Veritas. This was clearly a fantastic run and a dream reward.

But what I’m most proud of is the success my presales and I had within a manufacturing and distribution account. Taking on a challenging situation, developing and strengthening relationships and making it one of the biggest accounts across EMEA and globally within Veritas makes me very proud. We’ve overcome so many roadblocks and the results are great.

Zoe: What do you enjoy most about your role at Veritas?
Steve: What I enjoy the most about my role at Veritas is the constant challenge it involves. There’s always something new and exciting to accomplish, always a competitor to take on, a new key person I hadn’t met before. I hate monotony, things must be constantly moving (even in traffic jams!). If you don’t make things move when working in sales, you might as well change jobs.

Zoe: To some extent, we are influenced by others. Who are your role models and influencers?
Steve: If we stick to the professional side, there are 3 people that really stand out for me.

First is Julien Pelabere, who is the former student that inspired me to work in IT. He is an exceptional speaker and negotiator and now works with some of the most talented negotiation experts in the world at Institut NERA. His continuous work in the research field has kept feeding my appetite for new negotiation knowledge.

Second is my first manager, Alexandre Mengual. He used to be my boss at a small IT company, working with SAP engineers to maintain our customer’s environments. His management style and skills are the best I’ve ever encountered during my career. He is always passionate about people and what they can learn from him, trying to elevate each person he works with to a higher level. He has inspired me in the way I approach teamwork and goal management, my goal of becoming a manager.

Finally, my former line manager at NetApp Rodolphe Barnault, his relentlessness to close any deal is impressive and his sales skills are the best I’ve ever come across. My never-give-up attitude and hatred of the defeat were exacerbated by his guidance and kept on growing while he was my manager and afterward. He taught me to never let go of anything if you truly think this is of worth to you, even though it can be harmful sometimes.

Steve visiting Lisbon, Portugal with his familySteve visiting Lisbon, Portugal with his familyZoe: Different things motivate different people. What motivates you? And how do you motivate others?
Steve: Constantly overcoming challenges and breaking walls down are what makes me wake up every morning, on both a personal and professional level. Whether in sports, in sales, in life, I thrive on winning through difficult times and really enjoy the successes that comes from that. I try to become the best I can and of course providing for my two lovely daughters.

Motivating other people is harder, and this is still something I’m trying to learn and develop.

In order to properly motivate other people, you need to understand where they are coming from and what gets them excited, otherwise, you’re just acting out your own motivations. That involves a lot of listening and discussion with the people you want to motivate. 

Zoe: Do you have any remote working tips you can share with our blog audience?
Steve: I had to work a lot remotely during FY19 for personal reasons, and these troubled times are no different. One key thing is organization. Being in lockdown with two toddlers and my wife who is also working remotely, we share as much as we can about our schedules and priorities. If I have a very important call with a customer or with the team, then my wife takes care of the kids if necessary, and vice and versa. Second thing is having a routine as much as possible that also involves physical activity, which helps you stay focused on the job.

Zoe: What is your favourite Veritas solution? Or product?
Steve: I just love appliances, especially the NetBackup 5240 Appliance. The value proposition to the customer when explained is no match for our competitors.

Zoe: Describe Veritas in one word?
Steve: Leader. Being a leader is a huge advantage when you work in sales.

Steve and his wifeSteve and his wifeZoe: What do you like to do in your free time?
Steve: First and foremost, I take care of my two kids. Other than that, there are three things I really enjoy doing and they’re usually done with my wife:

  1. Traveling! A lot of travel! We’ve visited 20+ countries and are planning to do much more when the current situation gets back to normal.
  2. Wine tasting is also a hobby, I enjoy a lot. France is the country of wine and I do enjoy red wine above all, with moderation of course.
  3. And the last one is food. I love to discover new restaurants and cuisines and I try do this several times a month.

Zoe: Finally, what technology can’t you live without?
Steve: My smartphone! It is very hard not to use it because it makes so many things much easier than they used to be without a mobile device.

Thank you, Steve, for sharing insights into your work style, what motivates you and tips for those starting out in their career this was great. I really liked Steve’s remote working tips and agree it is important to carve out time in our days for physical activity, as exercising does help with our mental wellbeing plus it keeps our bodies moving whilst working from home. It was a pleasure catching up with Steve and learning more about his work style, his passion, and excitement for our company.

If you enjoyed this Life at Veritas blog post with Steve Boissonnier, then do stay tuned as there will be more interview-style posts from other people at Veritas.