From Sales to Sales Engineering: A Day in the Life with Akin Edwards

A job shouldn’t be reserved for the hours of 9-5. Success requires focus, continual learning and no limit to hard work. Whether it’s on the slopes or in the office, that’s sales-development-representative-turned-sales-engineer Akin Edwards’ philosophy.

We were excited to sit down with Akin to hear more about his unique career path and passion for making customers successful.

Akin Edwards 001 How did you find out about Okta and get started here? My sister, Jadesola Edwards, actually works at Okta! She’s on the administrative assistant team supporting our CTO and CMO. I had been working in IT administration — dealing with common issues that we solve here at Okta — and was telling her about some of the work that I managed on a day-to-day basis. I had spent my career to date in both software development and IT administration acquiring several project management certifications along the way, but wanted to round out my experience with the end goal of becoming a sales engineer. Jadesola encouraged me to reach out to a recruiter, and through our conversations I learned about an open sales development representative role which would allow me to understand the sales process from the ground up. I was ready to dive in, work hard, and learn an aspect of business that was fairly new to me.

After meeting with the team and talking more about how I could develop my unique career path within Okta, it was a no-brainer. I’ve been here for over a year now and just recently transitioned into a sales engineering role.

So why sales engineering? I’ve been in this role for just over a month now and every day is different. I’ve always loved challenging myself and learning from those challenges, and I am constantly challenged technically in this role. As a sales engineer, the possibilities are limitless. The team is composed of a collection of experts in cloud security, and identity and access management is a huge industry with complexities I can really sink my teeth into.

What does a typical day look like? With limitless possibilities comes a wide array of ways to spend my day. I am typically brought into meetings by my colleagues to perform product demos, whiteboard architecture, implement a proof of concept, and begin working with customers in order to streamline their IT landscape. I want them to feel completely comfortable with their unique configuration and set them up for success. When I’m not working with customers, I’m collaborating with the team and acting as a liaison between Okta’s internal divisions. My goal internally is to distill technical information and help collaborative teams work on customer projects.

What’s most rewarding about your role? My new role is vastly expanded as a sales engineer, but ultimately what I find most rewarding about working at Okta hasn’t changed. I’m still helping organizations adopt best-in-class technology and making it easier for organizations that are stuck on old technology or are “too small to compete,” to get on the same playing field as their industry’s leaders, use the same tools, and let their product shine.

I want to position any company to adopt the next big thing and capitalize on it. I love helping people, and it feels great to have a customer come back and say “I’ve eliminated my help desk requests and now my team can finally focus on building XYZ.”

IMG 20170107 145631 What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I love sports. I’m very active in our intramural leagues here at Okta. I also love extreme sports — I used to do competitive rock climbing and now I’m starting to focus on snowboarding and kite-surfing. On the flipside, I can just as easily be down for a wine and cheese night with my lovely fiancée.

What’s something unique we might not know about you? I used to live in Japan and speak Japanese, so if you pick just the right Saturday night in Japantown, you may happen upon me at the local karaoke bar belting out Japanese classics, but only if you get the timing just right.

One word to describe Okta: The future. I used a second word but it’s worth it! We’re building transformative technology for customers, but also internally, everyone here is invested in your future and helping you become successful.

Interested in joining the team? Check out our careers page to get started.