A woman with long brown hair smiles at the camera in front of a white wall and a large plant. She is Maria Duni, the country manager for the Nordics at Personio.
Maria Duni. Image: Personio

How this country manager kicked off her tech sales career in Dublin

3 Jan 2024

Personio’s Maria Duni discusses her passion for diversity in tech and the importance of having a growth mindset when working in tech sales.

“Technology has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember,” says Maria Duni. “I find it fascinating how technology plays a huge role in improving all aspects of our lives, and I wanted a job where I could be leading the charge too!”

For the past decade, Duni has been leading a successful tech sales career. From working with companies such as Dropbox, IBM and MongoDB, she has acquired considerable experience and knowledge in the tech sales space, ultimately leading to her current role as the country manager for the Nordics region at HR software company Personio.

But everyone has to start somewhere, and for Duni this starting point was Dublin.

“As one of the European tech hubs, Dublin felt like the natural place to begin exploring a career in tech, which was over 10 years ago now,” she says. “I haven’t looked back since.”

‘The three key ingredients to excel at a career in sales are drive, ambition and a hunger for success’

What educational and work experiences led you to the role you now have?

Something that may surprise people is that I actually gained my degree in Balkan and south-eastern Europe studies, before completing a master’s in international politics. This meant that when I began my first role as a sales development representative at IBM in Dublin, I was starting from scratch. But this wasn’t a bad thing! Entering the tech sales profession with a clean slate allowed me to nail the basics and gain a full understanding of how to excel in my role.

I have held a number of roles across industries and sectors during my career. Before I joined Personio, I worked at Dropbox where I started as a senior account executive and worked my way up to team lead for the EMEA and Nordics region. That’s when I joined the wonderful Personio team, three years ago, where I’ve been working as the country manager for the Nordics ever since.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?

Something I feel especially passionate about changing is how male dominated the tech industry is. It has been a personal passion project of mine to try and encourage as many women as possible to consider a career in tech sales. For instance, I’m a member of a great organisation called Sales Women in Tech (SWIT).

I know that diversity remains an issue for many industries, not just tech. From starting out in my career to then being responsible for hiring staff, I too experienced how hard it is to find women candidates. However, at Personio we prioritise diversity and inclusion in everything we do, including our recruitment processes, which is another reason I am so proud of where I work.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

This is a tricky question as I could not possibly name all the inspirational women who I have met, or who have helped me in my career so far. In fact, I expect that many of the women who spring to my mind have impacted me without even realising it.

However, at Personio, I am fortunate to work alongside so many strong women role models. For example, our chief revenue officer Geraldine MacCarthy, who I first met during our time together working in sales at Dropbox.

‘The people who truly excel at their career in sales are those who take on the individual responsibility to learn and grow’

What do you enjoy about your job?

I feel extremely lucky that I enjoy so many aspects of my job. In my day-to-day role, I get to work on very complicated deals, which allows me to develop my own skills as a leader and sales professional. It is so motivating to wake up every day knowing that I have another opportunity to continue to learn and develop.

Aside from that, I have to say that the best part of my job is my team. As cliché as that may sound, I work with a group of talented and inspiring individuals, who are eager to continuously learn and improve. I am a true believer that you are only as successful as your team – without them, it wouldn’t be possible to continue the brilliant work we are already doing in the Nordics.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

For me, the three key ingredients to excel at a career in sales are drive, ambition and a hunger for success. Working in sales can be challenging, and it is so important to maintain a growth mindset. If a deal doesn’t pan out the way you want it too, you can decide to either dwell on all the things that went wrong or you can learn from your mistakes. Resilience and a drive to learn from your experiences is what’s going to help you excel in the future. Speaking from experience, the more successful you are and the more progress you make – the more motivated you become!

How did your current company support you on your career path?

Personio has continued to rapidly grow since I first joined. As such, learning and development is key for everyone in the business. But I feel so lucky to work for a company that recognises and understands the challenges that fast growth can bring, and which is committed to our success. For example, we have the chance to work with a business coach, a host of learning materials and access to online learning and educational platforms such as Udemy.

However, the people who truly excel at their career in sales, whether at Personio or any other organisation, are those who take on the individual responsibility to learn and grow, utilising the materials available both internally and externally too. In sales, you can never stop learning!

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Three words – just do it. When reading a job description, something many of us have been guilty of is to focus on all the skills or experience we don’t have. This is true for women especially. However, if it’s something you like the sound of, then apply – there are skills you can learn and people that can teach you. Don’t be afraid and don’t question yourself, just do it.

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