Jawwad Baig knew when the time came to transition from college life to a professional career, he wanted to work for an extraordinary company where he could bring all of his talents to the table. But what company would be the right fit for him? As any thrifty college student does, he Googled “best places to work”, and came across a company that sparked his interest. Later that day he applied to our SAS Sales Academy. Landed an interview. And the rest - as they say - is history.
He’s been with the company for 3 years and is now working in Texas at the Dallas Regional Office. I gave him a call to learn more about how his career has taken off.
Allison: What made SAS stand out as the place where you wanted to start your career?
Jawwad: From the initial interview I was impressed with the detail and personalized attention SAS gave me as a candidate. I competed in many sales competitions while in school, which gave me the advantage of multiple offers - still, I felt the "people part" was missing from many of my options. It wasn’t until my first time in Cary at SAS’ Headquarters that I felt like I found the culture I was searching for. I had a gut feeling that SAS was the right place for me.
I was also intrigued by SAS' Sales Academy program. It’s a unique program for recent grads to join SAS full time. However, for the first 5 months we received intensive training about our industry, professional complex sales, interpersonal skills, team building, and other topics that enable a successful career at SAS. You’re surrounded by other bright people who share the same passion you do. As you can imagine, everyone in the program becomes very close. You build an amazing network right from the start – the program really is a once in a lifetime experience.
It’s interesting to look back on this now because when you read that “millennials” are looking for something meaningful to do with their career, I honestly didn’t really know what that meant until I started working at SAS. I gained a new understanding that I could work for a company, in a job that I love, and be able to see the impact our work has for our customers. I’m glad I trusted my gut on this one!
A: Sounds like your intuition led you in the right direction! Where did your career take you after you graduated the Sales Academy?
J: I started out in the mid-market segment, which was exciting because I worked with all kinds of industries. I was involved with everything from retail and hi-tech manufacturing to video game publishers and oil and gas. You name it. I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable because each day was different. All of these industries are so dynamic. It put me out of my comfort zone from the get-go, but it allowed me to stretch and grow to be able to work with just about any industry and with anyone.
A big thing that helped me during this period was building a strong relationship with my Presales partners who would go with me on every customer visit. After meeting with customers, my first follow up meeting was with my Presales counterpart. I’m a naturally curious person and I always learn something when talking to my Presales engineers. We always worked collaboratively to make sure we understood what our customer needed and what problem they were trying to solve. Towards the end of my first fiscal year I could manage meetings and introductory technical topics with customers before bringing in a domain expert or a Presales resource.
Eventually, I got to a point where I knew I was ready for my next challenge. I had a lot of industry breadth – I was supporting over 200 accounts – but I wanted more depth. I wanted to take the skills I had developed, and really dig deep into solutions that could help our complex customers.
A: What did you do prepare for that next step?
J: The first thing I did was identify what I enjoyed the most about my current role, and think through what else I wanted in a new role. For instance, I knew I wanted to stay in Sales. I also liked traveling and wanted to keep that as well. And while I enjoyed 200 customers I wanted more focus on complex accounts. I also enjoyed working at our headquarters in North Carolina, but I was ready to get out in the field for a new experience. Once I had a better idea of what I was looking for, it helped me focus my search.
After that, I actually went to our company directory to identify managers in the company who had field teams, and who were working in this space. I set up some informational phone calls, and I approached these calls as a learning opportunity. I wanted to hear from other people in the business about what their teams were working on and what their groups did at SAS to see if that area would be a fit for me one day.
Everyone was really open and receptive to talking with me. The folks at SAS are very giving of their time – which is just incredible. At the end of the day, I think everyone recognizes that we’re all on one team. So everyone is willing to lend a hand, have a conversation, or help connect you with resources.
Additionally, I realized was it was up to me to do something with the information people were sharing with me. That’s the great thing though, is I’m empowered to play an active role in developing my career at SAS. Once I had the information and resources I needed, I was able to act on that information. Then, when the right job opened in Dallas – I went for it. Now I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, but it’s the prep work that helped me get there.
A: What advice would you have for someone looking for something similar? Any skills or words of wisdom that have helped you along the way?
J: You have to complete “Step 1” before moving on to “Step 2”. That’s my way of sharing the old adage - you need to do your job and do it well before you can really expect someone to look at you do take on a new job. I actually tried to make the same move to the team I’m on now earlier in my career, but the timing wasn’t right. But having patience to look for the right thing and assess what it is you ultimately want is incredibly important. At the root of it all, I like to learn new things, and the right way for me to continue to do that was to take what I learned in one job, and apply it in a new role.
Also, it sometimes feels like you have to have your whole career charted out on Day 1. And that’s simply not the case. If you try to overengineer your career, you may miss opportunities that come your way. It doesn’t hurt to have direction and focus, but you don’t have to know what the end result will be today. I feel like there are two types of people: those who go with the flow and embrace whatever happens, and those who want to know the end game at the beginning. Sometimes, you have to find the balance between the two.
A: Why do you love working at SAS?
J: There are a number of reasons I love working at SAS! One of the main reasons is that I directly experience the impact our software has in the world, and I get to help the organization with our mission of empowering and inspiring with the most trusted analytics! I also enjoy working with the people at SAS. We truly have some of the brightest minds solving the world’s most complex challenges. I'm lucky to work for a company where we're able to execute on the visions we sell to our customers. This leads to customer success and some of the most loyal customers in the software industry. Lastly, SAS has a culture that enables me to grow, learn, and be recognized both personally and professionally.
Thanks for sharing your story Jawwad - we can't wait to see where your SAS career journey will take you next!
Want to learn more about our Academies and starting your career at SAS? Check out the video below: