As a fairly new member to fatherhood, a foodie, and a leader of the sales and marketing team at Akili, Sean Granfield has all the right reasons to be the go-getter he proves to be. This week, we pulled him aside from the office hustle for a chance to learn more about his role and what keeps him hungry for success.
What’s your role at Akili and the most satisfying aspect about it?
My role at Akili is Vice President of Sales and Marketing – developing and driving our go-to-market strategy through our team of three account executives, an inside sales rep and a marketing coordinator.
I really enjoy the creative freedom Akili provides around the overall development of our strategy, content, and brand image within our target markets. There’s nothing more exciting and satisfying than working with our team to create a unique and compelling strategy for our company and seeing the efforts being executed across our channels and people!
How did you become interested in your line of work?
I’ve always loved the idea of creating something. That passion wasn’t always specific to the business world however, when I finished school at the University of Oklahoma on the back end of the recession, the opportunities I found in front of me were in the startup space, mainly in software. I quickly found myself loving the ability to make a tangible impact. I was also very lucky in terms of the environment around me at the time: smartphones were fairly new, cloud technology was enabling powerful ideas to grow from exciting new sources, and I was fortunate enough to experience it all at the ground level. Ultimately, that was the hook that sent me down the path of selling software and cloud technology.
What about Akili made you decide to join?
It was always about the people for me. Before I came on board, I was great friends with an employee who consistently raved about the people, culture and day-to-day office environment. Once I was provided the opportunity to interview with the broader team, I knew it was a place I would be comfortable at, while still being challenged to grow and excel. Further, when you’re in sales, and services sales at that, you’re essentially selling your people. Having confidence in the team behind you is absolutely critical to the success of a sales person or leader, and I’ve never once questioned our ability to deliver!
What’s a memory that stood out to you at Akili?
There are truly too many to list, but I’ll refer back to something early on: I came on board in April of 2015, only weeks before one of our technology partner’s big annual event. Naturally, I was a bit intimidated by the runway. I had to first understand who Akili was, and then our partnership, in a way that I could confidently represent Akili and hold substantive conversations. With that as the backdrop, the trip ended up being one that sticks in my memory more than almost any other for the level of support I felt from our team. I never once felt they were questioning my ability or asking too much of me at the same time. They totally endorsed my way of interacting with our partners and clients, while providing valuable guidance. It’s a time and event that I will always remember as the experience where I became an Akilian. 🙂
In your opinion, what makes Akili different?
It’s really hard to not go back to our people, which is absolutely a key differentiator, but something else that comes to mind is the trust the leadership places in every single employee at Akili. There’s no micromanaging, ideas are welcomed (and encouraged), and you never have to question yourself when you feel your opinion needs to be heard. It’s an incredibly empowering feeling which I believe brings the best out of everyone.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Traveling, eating exciting food, cooking, and spending time with my family. Most of all though, it’s being with our 8-month-old son. It may sound cheesy, but there’s nothing I’d rather do than be with him all day, every day!
What keeps you motivated?
It’s a long list. Providing for my family, driving success for our company, supporting my team, being the best partner to our technology partners – all of these keep me motivated. Ultimately though, trying to get absolutely everything I can out of myself makes all the other areas achievable – that’s my underlying motivation!
Tell us about some of the greatest advice you’ve ever received.
As I continue my professional growth, there’s something simple my dad always told me that stands out more than ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest, fastest, strongest (name the adjective). What matters most is your willingness to prepare more than your competition or even your colleagues. He was quite successful in his own right and if you were to ask him today about what drove that success, he would without a doubt say his preparation!
Anything else you’d like everyone to know?
In the context of an employee spotlight blog and looking at the element of being an employee, I would encourage everyone to find a professional home where your leadership is truly invested in you as a person, not just a headcount. There is nothing more powerful in my estimation than having a person (or persons) who want you to succeed just as much as you do, in and out of the office!