Leadership Q&A – Karina Mansfield

Karina is the Managing Director of KnowBe4 A/NZ. In her current role, she oversees and leads the KnowBe4 team in this region.

Karina has more than 17 years’ IT industry experience, having held leadership roles at Australian telecommunications firms Telstra and Optus. She has been instrumental in leading teams at these organisations deliver projects for large enterprises and government organisations across Victoria and Tasmania. She has led transformational change in her leadership career at the organisations that she has worked at and is passionate about ensuring the wellbeing of staff to ensure long-term employee retention and stability, motivation and productivity. Karina has an Executive MBA (e-MBA) from UNSW Australia. She has also completed executive training courses in Transformational Leadership at Macquarie University and the AICD Board Director Course (Abridged), from AICD and Telstra.

What was your first sales role and in which industry?
My first Sales role was with Nth QLD Newspapers, based in Townsville. I was an Advertising Sales Executive selling advertising. I loved it!

What was the first lesson you learnt on the job?
The first lesson I learnt on the job was the important of relationships, the ability to build them is key! From both an internal, and external perspective.

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How or why did you become a sales professional?
I was a hairdresser working in Townsville, I really didn’t enjoy it, so decided on a career change. I applied for 2 roles, one with NQ Newspapers, and one with Telstra. I was lucky enough to get both, but opted for pursuing a career in the Media industry. Ironic that I ended up at Telstra anyway!

How would you describe your approach to sales and what are the values that you live by?
My approach to sales is plan, plan, plan, and execute ‘flawlessly’……Know your customer and place them at the centre of all you do, never at the expense of the organisation you are working for though. There is always a balance. Take the time to build strong relationships both internally and externally. Good Stakeholder Management is a key skill. Know what success looks like and where you’re heading, and ensure you have your checkpoints or milestones along the way to ensure you are heading on the right trajectory, and to give you an opportunity to recalibrate if otherwise.
Values: authenticity, empathy, integrity, consistency, strong work ethic, humility, transparency, honesty, and maintain a sense of humour!

In your view, what are the three most important factors that determine sales success?
Drive, interpersonal skills and work-ethic. Accountability, integrity and tenacity would be some more….

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What did/do you love about sales?
Dealing with customers!, and of course hitting, and exceeding your goals! That’s the fun stuff, that’s what energises!

What did/do you dislike about sales?
When an organisations business model doesn’t align with driving success in the market. Irrespective of what role you are in within an organisation, we are all there to serve our customers. Without them the organisation likely doesn’t exist. It’s incumbent on ‘everyone’, not just sales to delight the customer. This culture, in my experience, seems to rarely exist in large organisations today.

Tell us about your most memorable sale and why.
This would be a Global Distributed Denial of Service deal with one of the Big 4. It was the first complex Cyber deal I had done, back in 2013

What is the best piece of advice a sales manager passed on to you when you were in sales?
Don’t focus on the numbers at the expense of your customers and their experience, as this will keep you internally focussed, as opposed to on the customer. Do the fundamentals and care for your customers, and magic happens!

What do you wish you had known when you first started out in sales that you know now?
The importance of planning, the value of creating and maintaining a network, and lastly, the value of having an executive sponsor.

What traits do you believe are critical for success in sales management and sales leadership?
Authenticity, empathy, experience, courage and drive and ability to listen….really listen that is…
It is also incredibly important to stay curious, seek to understand, and always be open to learning. Seek to be a lifelong learner….

What is the secret for sales leaders to get the best out of their teams?
Ensure you have a higher purpose as a team, and as an organisation. Something people want to get out of bed and be part of, contribute to.
Have a plan, communicate it often!, help people understand how they can contribute and make a difference to the outcome. Bring your people on the journey with you!

How has your industry evolved in the last 10 years or so and what changes do you see coming in the next 10 years?
Technology and Cyber Security have evolved markedly over the last 10 years. We have seen the inception of Cloud, and we have seen NBN disrupt the Telecommunications industry. Additionally we have seen significant disruption due to smaller niche, more boutique players, entering the market. Along with a myriad of start-ups, and a more global marketplace evolve.

In the next 10 years, I will be keenly watching the evolution of Distributed Cloud, this will be a significant shift from the largely centralised model of public cloud services of today, Human Augmentation holds alot of potential, and Autonomous Things, which we have really only touched the tip of the iceberg on to date, functionally anyway, in terms of possibilities and potential use cases. Security around this will be critical. The emergence of DeepFakes is also one I’m watchful of…..

What are some of the biggest challenges in moving from management into executive leadership?
Ability to influence is even more key the more senior you are. Accountability is incredibly important too, the buck ultimately stops with you! Stakeholder Management is another critical skill, the more senior your role. You must be confident with media and public speaking and overall playing an ambassadorial role. Work life balance is also more of a challenge the more senior your role in an organisation.

How do you balance life and work?
Not as well as I would like to! You need to be disciplined in this regard, a skill I’m still honing! A great way is to ensure you make your family your ultimate priority, and to adopt habits such as leaving devices in another room once you walk through your front door at night. Super-important to be present when your with people! Definitely don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family and friends. Long lunches. I love to spend time in the country. We have a very modest little holiday house in Nth East Victoria. Reading! – love the escapism of a great book.

About KnowBe4:

Gartner has positioned KnowBe4 highest and furthest overall in the Leaders’ Quadrant for our ability to execute and our completeness of vision in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for the Security Awareness Computer-Based Training (CBT) market. This is the third consecutive year KnowBe4 has been recognized as a Leader in this report.

KnowBe4 is the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform that helps you manage the ongoing problem of social engineering.

The KnowBe4 platform is user-friendly and intuitive. It was built to scale for busy IT pros that have 16 other fires to put out. Our goal was to design the most powerful, yet easy-to-use platform available.

Customers of all sizes can get the KnowBe4 platform deployed into production twice as fast as our competitors. Our Customer Success team gets you going in no time, without the need for consulting hours. We are proud of the fact that more than 50% of our team are women, where the average in cyber security is just 20% of employees

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Joseph Sing
Joseph Sing is the Publisher of Head of Sales. Joseph’s marketing and media sales experience spans more than 15 years across vertical markets such as financial services, medical, legal, information technology, business and HR & recruitment. His clients have included notable organisation such as Google, Facebook, Westpac, CBA, Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow, Deloitte, Pfizer, Novartis, J.P. Morgan, Vanguard, Randstad, Hays and a long list of best of breed vendors. Joseph holds a degree in commerce from Macquarie University with major studies in economics and marketing. He has completed management courses at the Australian Graduate School or Management (AGSM) and communications at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). Joseph worked across many areas of corporate events, publishing and digital media at a senior management level. He has experience in advertising, digital media, industry awards, exhibitions and conferences.