Hi-tech & high heels – Anna Kozień

Anna Kozień - Head of Sales
9 minutes read

Anna Kozień - Head of Sales at Polcode, shares insights about her career, and development opportunities in the IT industry.

You have been working at Polcode for over 8 years. What is unique about this company?

What sets this company apart is our shared commitment to values such as continuous development, adaptability, and a genuine focus on people. I initially joined as a project manager, then moved into account management, and later took the lead in establishing a new business department. Currently, I serve as Head of Sales and contribute to the company's remarkable growth.

What's truly remarkable about Polcode, in my view, is our dual commitment—internally to our own growth and externally to our clients' success. We don't just talk the talk; we walk the walk. Over the years, we've nurtured lasting partnerships with our clients, actively contributing to their growth by staying agile, meeting evolving needs, and consistently improving our services. The collaborative spirit within the organization has been pivotal in navigating this path of progress, and I'm excited to continue contributing to our shared success in this dynamic environment.

What led you to pursue a career in the technology industry?

My entry into the technology industry was influenced by a blend of analytical skills developed during my philosophy studies, linguistic and communication knowledge from applied linguistics, and IT project management studies. Interestingly, whether in e-commerce, logistics, education, or as a chief editor of web portals, I found myself deeply immersed in IT projects. I emphasize the ubiquitous nature of digital integration in both business and personal domains.

I think what attracted me to the technology sector was its perceived emphasis on meritocracy, valuing competence, and knowledge over preconceived notions. My experiences in the industry have shown that if you're good at what you do, you're recognized and appreciated.

Being part of the IT domain means embracing constant learning and adaptation, given its dynamic nature. The industry's reliance on innovation and change brings both challenges and excitement. This makes it a profession that is continuously evolving. In essence, I can say that a career in technology is not just a job for me but a perpetual journey of learning and adaptation, which offers both challenges and enjoyment along the way.

What has changed the most since you started working in the IT industry?

With a substantial portion of my professional journey rooted in the IT industry, dating back to the early 2000s, the transformations I've witnessed have been nothing short of profound. Some of the most significant changes we have experienced over the years have been the emergence and development of mobile technologies, social media platforms, and open-source software. They redefined how people engage with technology, transformed communication, and improved workflow.

Another remarkable shift has been the widespread adoption and evolution of cloud computing. Back in the mid-2000s, cloud technology was still in its nascent stages, with pioneers like Salesforce leading the charge with Software as a Service (SaaS). The subsequent introduction of commercial cloud services by Amazon, followed by industry giants like Google and Microsoft Azure, marked significant milestones. Fast forward to today, and cloud computing has become a cornerstone of IT infrastructure. It fundamentally alters how businesses store, process, and access data. This revolution brought unparalleled scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency and established the cloud as a pivotal force reshaping the IT landscape.

Further, the explosion of data generated by digital activities has underscored the critical importance of big data analytics. Organizations now harness advanced analytics tools to glean valuable insights from extensive datasets, facilitate data-driven decision-making and strategy formulation.

There has also been significant progress in AI accessibility, which transitioned from a theoretical concept to an integral component of various applications. From virtual assistants to intricate data analysis and automation processes, AI has permeated numerous facets of our technological landscape.

Moreover, the IT industry's globalization has been accompanied by increased acceptance of remote work, which was especially accelerated by recent global events. This has led to a more distributed workforce and significant changes in team collaboration.

Last but not least, reflecting on the past, when the industry was predominantly male-dominated – instances where I, as a woman, was addressed as Herr or Sir serve as reminders of gender biases that have fortunately significantly diminished over time. This journey encompasses not just technological advancements but a cultural shift and makes the IT landscape more inclusive and dynamic.

What would you say to people who want to follow a career path similar to yours? What skills are worth developing, and what should they pay particular attention to?

Well, success in IT sales requires a blend of technical knowledge, sales prowess, analytical skills, and a proactive mindset. To thrive in this really dynamic and rewarding field, you must be curious, adaptable, and seize opportunities for growth. I have for you some tips that can help you along the way:

First, acquire a fundamental understanding of IT concepts and technologies. Familiarize yourself with industry terminology, products, and trends to effectively communicate with technical teams and clients. Consider gaining experience in general sales or customer service roles to hone essential skills like communication, negotiation, and relationship building.

Also, pursue internships or entry-level positions – particularly in the IT industry – to gain practical insights into the daily responsibilities of IT sales professionals. Attend industry events and networking opportunities to forge valuable connections.

Stay abreast of developments in the IT industry, including emerging technologies, market trends, and key players. This knowledge will not only enhance your credibility in discussions but also enable you to anticipate client needs effectively.

Remember that IT sales are results-oriented. Thus, focus on setting and achieving measurable goals, develop resilience to handle rejections, and continually refine your approach.

Don’t forget about prioritizing ethical conduct in all interactions. Adopt a customer-centric approach that emphasizes understanding and addressing client needs. This will help you build long-term relationships.

Develop proficiency in analyzing data, as it’s crucial for sales performance. Utilize data analytics to assess trends, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions. That matters because understanding the significance of data in the sales process is essential for strategic planning and achieving sales targets.

Further, cultivate a strategic mindset by conducting thorough market analysis to identify opportunities and threats. Develop and implement strategic plans aligned with business objectives. Also, adapt strategies to anticipate market dynamics effectively.

Embrace a mindset of continuous learning by attending workshops, webinars, and training sessions regularly. Connect with experienced professionals in IT sales who can offer mentorship and insights to navigate your career path effectively. Their guidance can be invaluable in making informed decisions and achieving success as an IT Sales Director.

What steps or actions have you taken to meet your goals and motivate your team in times of crisis in the IT industry?

In my experience, managing sales during a recession requires a strategic approach first and foremost, as this will help keep the business resilient.

I prioritize transparent communication and ensure my team is aware of the challenges we face and the collective efforts required to overcome them. Here, regular updates on our business strategy and any adjustments to sales goals keep everyone informed.

When dealing with an IT crisis, flexibility is key. That’s why I encourage the team to embrace an adaptive sales approach, responsive to customer feedback and market dynamics. Also necessary is setting realistic and achievable sales goals tailored to the economic climate, and breaking down larger targets into manageable milestones, as they maintain focus and prevent overwhelm. What’s more, we continually reassess our service offerings and identify areas of high market demand or opportunities to pivot our strategy accordingly.

When it comes to supporting and motivating the team, we increase their confidence and effectiveness by equipping them with the tools and knowledge to navigate difficult markets. We care about unity and foster collaboration and idea-sharing, which in turn can generate innovative solutions. Moreover, recognizing individual and team efforts through constructive feedback boosts morale and instills a culture of adaptability and perseverance, even in tough times. In this way, our team remains resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity.

In times of crisis, such as a pandemic and recession, the IT market faces unique challenges that require adaptability and foresight. At Polcode, we’ve always understood the importance of diversifying our services and maintaining organizational maturity to navigate through turbulent times effectively.

One of the key challenges is the fluctuating demand and market dynamics. During crises, clients may vary in their purchasing power and priorities. While some may hesitate to invest due to financial constraints, others may urgently require solutions to address emerging needs. To overcome this, we focus on continuously monitoring the market and staying ahead of trends. We anticipate shifts in demand and adjust our service offerings accordingly, ensuring that we remain relevant and valuable to our clients.

Pricing strategies become crucial during crises. While some products or services experience increased demand, others may face pricing pressure. At Polcode, we approach pricing by balancing profitability with affordability for our clients. We understand that in some cases, organizations face the dilemma of whether to invest in new solutions or maintain existing ones burdened with technological debt during times of crisis. To alleviate this decision-making process, we stay proactive. Before commencing with development or even estimations, we assemble our product managers, solutions architects, and tech consultants to conduct thorough audits and workshops. This collaborative effort ensures a comprehensive understanding of the client's current infrastructure, challenges, and objectives. And by identifying areas for improvement and opportunities for innovation, we empower our clients to make informed decisions about their investments. This strategy not only instills confidence in the viability of our solutions but also demonstrates our commitment to delivering value and long-term sustainability for our clients.

How much does AI affect the work of sales? How do you use it in your daily work?

There’s no doubt that AI has a big impact on how our teams are working and performing tasks. Its evolution reflects a broader trend across various sectors, not only sales, where it streamlines operations, enhances decision-making, and fosters innovations. In particular, AI's integration into IT processes signifies a pivotal shift towards more efficient, accurate, and predictive operational models.

At Polcode, we've observed firsthand the transformative impact of AI on our workflows and methodologies. For example, we leverage AI tools at the managerial level for forecasting, prospecting,and data collection. Moreover, AI applications are integral to the software development process and assist at various stages – from initial design to deployment and maintenance.

For Polcode, as a technology-driven company, embracing AI is not just an option but a necessity. Staying up-to-date with AI advancements allows us to explore new opportunities, refine our services, and continuously provide value to our clients. This commitment to innovation and excellence is what positions us as leaders in the IT industry.

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