Jun 1 2022
Kasia Sosin

Roundtable: Alternative Career Paths to Sales


This is the eighth in an 11-part series of blog posts that focus on Basis Technologies’ corporate guiding principles, and how those values show up in the workplace and in the lives of our people.

While many are calling this period the Great Resignation, there’s another emerging term that may describe it better: the Great Reshuffle. People are reevaluating the kind of work they want to do each day and shifting their careers to match those needs. Case in point: an analysis from Pew Research found that 53% of employed US adults who quit their jobs in 2021 changed their fields or occupations at some point that year.

One of Basis Technologies’ core values is “Do the Right Thing.” While this value often applies to how we treat others, it also pertains to how we treat ourselves, and live our lives with integrity. With the Great Reshuffle in mind, I’ve been getting curious about what it means for people in our industry to make career decisions that result in more happiness and job satisfaction.

Luckily, I have many coworkers with alternative career paths to inspire me.

To share that inspiration with the rest of the world, I interviewed four coworkers with non-typical career paths who work in our sales department. I encourage you to read about their journeys below—it might just spark the inspiration you need to make your next career move a daring one!

Claire Keating: By Way of Agency Life

First, meet Claire Keating, VP of Client Development. Claire started her career as a strategy associate, buying media for big brands like Miller, Walgreens, and Best Buy. She eventually transitioned into a sales role at her agency, where she witnessed one of the first DSP solutions. Eight and a half years ago, she was eager to try new opportunities, and applied to a position at Basis Technologies.

What was it like transitioning from the agency world to the ad tech world?

Claire Keating: The transition from agency life to ad tech/sales life was not nearly as challenging as I expected. I certainly had a lot to learn given that my background was rooted more in media strategy than tech, but the fast-paced environment and incredibly collaborative nature of all Basis’ employees allowed me to learn more in six months about ad tech and the digital landscape than I had learned in my nearly six years agency-side.

Don’t get me wrong: the organizational structure and breadth of experience on the agency side gave me a great foundation for my advertising career. However, it was extremely refreshing and exciting to move to a company like Basis, where I was thrown into the mix right away, empowered to make decisions on behalf of our clients, and encouraged to collaborate with upper management, regardless of what area of the company they were in. I had never experienced that type of culture before.

Sohel: By Way of IT, Project Management, and Front-End Development

Next, I spoke with Sohel Bootwala, a Sales Engineer here at Basis Technologies. Before starting at Basis Technologies, Sohel started his career as a project manager in IT. Working in tech inspired him to learn to code, and he took a six-month hiatus from work to teach himself and take an intensive coding bootcamp. After two years as a front-end developer, Sohel learned that his true passion was helping people to solve complex issues—and that sales was the way he wanted to pursue that.

Here at Basis, you started out as a Client Development Associate (CDA) and have now transitioned into a Sales Engineer position. How did you realize you wanted to make that switch?

Sohel Bootwala: When I started at Basis, I knew I wanted to meet as many people as I could from different teams and get a good understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and struggles. I jumped on any opportunity to come into the office, talk with coworkers, and learn about their work. After talking to Mike Destree on the Basis Solutions Implementation team, it was clear that the Sales Engineer role was the perfect blend of technical know-how and customer facing interactions for me.

Sarah: By Way of Client Media Services and Solutions Implementation

Our next interviewee is Sarah Newell, an Account Lead on Basis’ Candidates & Causes team. Sarah started at Basis Technologies as a Media Associate, where she joined programmatic buying trainings and became enthralled with Basis' tech. After first spending some time on the Basis Solutions Implementation (BSI) team, Sarah transitioned into sales.

What steps did you take to get to where you are now as on the Candidates & Causes team?

Sarah Newell: Even as an associate, I grabbed every possible opportunity that came my way. In the media associate role, I persuaded my manager to let me join the programmatic buying trainings so I could start building that skill. I saw the full power of Basis, and became determined to work closer to the tech. When BSI opened an associate role, I took a lateral move to that team. Once again, I persuaded my boss at the time to let me start demoing the tool for prospects sooner than we originally planned. That’s when my interest in sales really started to increase. I loved working with the different sellers and seeing how Basis was positioned in the marketplace. After a few years on supporting sales with BSI, I felt I was ready to own those conversations myself.

Heather: By Way of Biology and Yellow Pages

Finally, I chatted with Heather Spinner, a Senior Client Lead here at Basis. She graduated college with a degree in biology—but had no desire to go to medical school or spend life her life in a lab. With rent and student loans hanging over her head, her career in sales was born out of necessity, and she started out by selling print yellow pages over the phone. Through that experience, she realized her ability to influence income through personal performance, which clinched her decision to pursue a career in sales.

You were at your last company for almost 12 years. What was it about Basis that spurred you to try out a new team?

Heather Spinner: The people, the product, and the culture. I initially ignored the outreach from Basis because I had told myself if I was going to switch companies it would be for something in a completely new field. However, after doing a bit more research I realized that this opportunity was worth exploring due to the following:

  • The people: Every individual I spoke with during my interview process was exceptionally smart, kind, and welcoming. 
  • The product: Basis is designed to drive increased profitability and greater efficiencies while improving the lives of the people working inside it. Here’s a product anyone would be proud to sell!
  • The culture: I watched Shawn’s “Happiness is the New ROI” keynote address on YouTube. Basis truly cares about its people as both employees and human beings. The benefits package is exceptional. When someone is willing to invest so much in you, it makes you want to be successful for them in return.

There you have it: Charting your own unique career path comes down to trying new things, meeting new people, and going with your gut.

If these Basis teammates have piqued your interest in sales, why not check out our open roles?