Okta Champions Women in Sales, And This is How We Do It.

As we continue to hire through a building balanced teams lens, we’re focused on representation, not only across the company but at the team level. This requires us to specifically examine team imbalance in roles that have historically excluded certain people and communities. In 2021 we continued to educate our leaders on the measurable benefits and positive impact that balanced teams can bring. These wins include overall team success and a truly inclusive culture.

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Alissa Masuda (she/her), Sales Manager of Emerging Markets at Okta. She shared her approach to hiring and how she enables her employees to grow their careers, as well as advice for women candidates interested in pursuing or advancing their careers in sales. 

Q: What is your role at Okta?

I run an Okta sales team under emerging markets, consisting of nine, quota-carrying direct reports. My team handles everything from lead generation to closing the sale. Emerging markets consist of start-ups or companies under the threshold of 299 employees and represent $100M in revenue over the past 10 years at Okta. 

Q: What were you doing prior to joining Okta?

Before entering the tech industry 10 years ago, I worked in events and the beauty & wellness industry. I then transitioned into tech, starting as a Sales Development Representative where I was responsible for lead generation, and setting up meetings to pass off to account executives. From there, I went into full account executive capacity where I rose quickly to a senior account executive and then into a leadership role at Intuit. I then followed one of my leaders from Intuit to a small start-up as the first senior account executive, helping them form their first sales team. After that, I came to Okta. 

Q: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from your career in sales so far?

I have learned a lot, from both positive and negative experiences—one adverse example being a job within a toxic environment. This has really informed how I show up as a leader. You have to figure out your purpose, and the purpose within your role. If you know what path you want to go down, that makes it easier. From there, you must set out to learn as much as you can. Your mindset is truly everything, not just in the office, but in life.

Q: What advice do you have for women candidates in sales to be successful?

1. Find a female mentor! My mentor has helped me so much in terms of professional development, as well as practical things like prepping for important meetings and navigating tough conversations. Sometimes people get nervous about asking someone to be a mentor, but in general, people appreciate the opportunity to share their knowledge. It’s certainly nice when there’s a formal mentorship program, but if there isn’t, you can always approach someone and ask for their time. 

Having said that, be sure you can define who you want as a mentor. It should be someone who has influence, can give you guidance, and is relatable. One thing that helps facilitate a successful mentor-mentee relationship? Come to your mentor/mentee meetings prepared with an agenda or specific questions. 

2. Prioritize and take care of yourself. Picture the airplane guidance about oxygen masks—put on your own before assisting others. What that can look like, especially for women, is setting boundaries and a ban on unnecessarily apologizing.

3. There are highs and lows in sales, and you just have to manage those. Find that balance to celebrate what’s going well and ways to cope with what isn’t going your way. 

4. Overall, be curious and hungry to learn! Take the time to be a learner in every role you play in life.

Q: What makes Okta a great place to work for women candidates in sales?

Okta encourages everyone to be authentic and strives to foster an accepting and inclusive environment. You can tell that Okta is constantly driving to be the best through its values, policies, and processes—not through solely following industry standards. 

“Balanced teams make us stronger, more innovative, and drives the needed change for equity. Through our building balanced teams strategy, we’ve redefined the way we talk about diversity and how we show up to support by removing barriers that enabled systemic oppression of historically excluded groups.” 

— Katie Linn, Senior Program Manager, Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging, Okta

Learn more about the opportunities within our fast-growing sales organization on our career page, and explore the open roles for a chance to join our talent community. To learn more about our overall commitment to equality and racial justice, visit our Okta Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging page.