For Mandy McLellan, who started her career as an apprentice in the refrigeration and air conditioning trade, an internal move into a sales role became a turning point in her career. “The transition from mechanic to sales was a steep learning curve to say the least,” she says.
And learn she did. After a move from Canada to her partner’s hometown of Dublin, she developed her sales skills further, working in both a startup environment and a global software company. But then McLellan had a new objective in mind. “I realized that my long-term goal was to further develop coaching skills and experience supporting a team,” she says.
This led her to join Udemy, a global leader in online education, as the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) Business Development Manager of Udemy for Business, the company’s learning platform for employee development.
Here, McLellan talks about the interview process and her onboarding experience at Udemy, what her day-to-day looks like, and the best career advice she’s ever received.
What attracted you to work at Udemy?
Two things stand out immediately: the company culture and the opportunity within the digital learning space in EMEA. Udemy had tremendously positive reviews for their company culture across sites that I searched—open communication, strong emphasis on self-development and growth, with a great mission to help employees and companies everywhere in their journey of learning.
Second, the market in EMEA for digital learning has only really started to develop in recent years. The opportunity to have a hand in building on Udemy’s rapid pace of growth and success in EMEA was something that was very exciting to me.
What are you responsible for as EMEA Business Development Manager?
I am lucky enough to work with a brilliant team of business development representatives out of our Dublin and Gurugram, India, offices, whose main focus is to help organizations that are looking to transform their current learning culture with Udemy. Our team’s key goal is to create quality sales opportunities for our account executives that will ultimately have a positive impact on our business. By working with our marketing team, gathering feedback from our account executives, and sharing best practices with our global offices, we’re building better and stronger processes to help us continue our growth and expansion into the EMEA market.
Aside from our professional targets, I work to support my team in achieving their personal objectives for development, which will help us to build the next generation of great salespeople.
What does a normal day in your job look like?
I aim to start most days with an hour of learning, reading, or watching Udemy courses that help me to develop as a manager and a coach. I don’t always achieve it, but it helps to have that goal in mind to start the day. I’ll then typically have a few one-on-one coaching sessions with the team, where we review calls and metrics and set actions to help focus the days ahead. We have a quick team huddle before lunch to check in and see how the day is going and share any important news or wins.
Beyond that, I have Zoom meetings to link up with our marketing and sales teams, review our metrics, and catch up on projects we’re collaborating on to help increase conversions and overall productivity. I usually have a few interviews, update reports, sync up with my teammates in San Francisco and Denver, and before you know it, the day is done.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
The whole EMEA business is growing so quickly, which makes it a very exciting time to be involved in the recruitment and internal promotions that are taking place across the teams. I am incredibly proud of the focus and emphasis that Udemy places on building a diverse and inclusive team, where we can celebrate our differences while also learning and growing from each other. This has been especially inspiring for me personally to see leaders across Udemy emphasise the importance of breaking down our unconscious biases and actively bringing this awareness of diversity and inclusion into all elements of our hiring.
It has also been inspiring to watch my team push toward their goals and the next step in their careers. We’ve had two people from our team recently promoted to account executives in the Dublin office—it is absolutely brilliant to see their hard work rewarded.
You joined Udemy less than a year ago. What was the interview process and onboarding experience like?
The interview process was brilliant and one that really stands out in my experience as being the most transparent. The interviewers weren’t there to sell you a dream, but instead answer your questions openly and honestly. For me, they built a huge amount of excitement about Udemy as a company while also giving me the chance to meet with colleagues across the organization and understand my future role in more detail.
Onboarding was an absolute whirlwind, but one that I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to experience. By my second week, I was meeting with the entire sales organization in San Francisco for our annual sales kick-off—a chance to meet with teammates from around the globe. What stood out for me across the whole onboarding process was that the experience was truly focused around learning. You weren’t expected to jump in and deliver results right away. My managers emphasized taking the time to get to know the people and processes as first priority, and then determining how you’re going to have an impact.
What do you like best about the company culture at Udemy?
What stands out to me the most is the way the whole business is incredibly proud in sharing and celebrating the wins. I think a lot of businesses anchor on the big wins, hitting a target for the quarter or the year—all great things to celebrate. At Udemy, though, it feels like directors, managers, and contributors alike are all so excited to celebrate the smaller contributions that, along the way, add up to those big successes.
Whenever someone is given a shout-out for their efforts, they are quick to include their teammates or others who may have pitched in to help. For such a results-driven organization, I have yet to come across anyone too busy to help. We’re just a group of incredibly supportive people working towards the same goals and boosting each other up along the way.
Tell us about your experience relocating to Dublin from Canada in 2014.
Moving to another country is a big step, no matter what the circumstances. When my partner Laura and I decided to move from Canada to her hometown of Dublin, it was hard to leave behind the life that we had built—the friends and family, places, and routines that you’re used to.
At the same time though, everything about Dublin was exciting and new, which made the whole transition much easier than I could have imagined. Getting to experience riding a bike to work for the first time, traveling across Europe for meetings, meeting new friends. In hindsight, Dublin was the best home away from home that I could have ended up in.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
One of my first sales mentors, Dan, was the most long-standing and successful territory manager at DSL, back in Canada. To this day, his advice has been the North Star throughout my sales career and what helps guide me when the going gets tough. It’s simple but sweet: “When you do the right thing, your customer, your company, and you all win.”
There are certain times where you’ll have the opportunity to take a quick sale, knowing that it might not be in the best interest of your customer or your company. If you hold true to what you know is the right thing to do, you’ll always end up on the winning side in the end.