Meet Darnell Walker, Sales Director at GBG, who talks about the importance of persevering, role model visibility and the courage it takes to be yourself in the below interview.
Tell us a little about your role?
It’s fairly simple. I got into Sales as it appealed to my personality style. Luckily for me, I knew who I was, my strengths, weaknesses etc, from an early age based on my environmental upbringing so I’ve had time to really develop this. Think Malcolm Gladwell ‘Outliers’, a blockbuster book explaining the rule of 10,000 hours. Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of intensive, deliberate practise to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like understanding the sales cycle inside out, playing the violin or getting as good as Bill Gates at computer programming. Once you’ve achieved the 10,000 hours and reached whatever goal that one might be trying to achieve, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. Sales is meritorious. I’m goal-driven (without an off switch) have had the benefit of some decent role models along the way and the rest is history.
What keeps you motivated?
I’m working for an exciting company, and with a talented group of people who are working together to make us the global leader in digital identity. I’m motivated to grow in my own role, just as the company grows. I enjoy helping our customers overcome their challenges, like onboarding customers quickly, combatting fraud and staying compliant.
How important is Black role model visibility within the workplace?
For me, role models don’t have to be a particular colour. Of course, it’s great if you can relate to the person and you share a bond of some sort but believing that my role model should be a certain colour creates blindness. Why can’t my role be female, white, a different religion.
Given that there was no “black role model” when I first joined the company many years ago, I think I looked laterally drawing on simply what ‘good’ looks like. One person might have been amazing at demo’s, another during the client meeting stage and others commercially astute as to how they would structure the opportunity making it a win/win for all parties all round when it came to the point of negotiating.
But I do also realise that it can be inspirational to see people that look like you, and could be from a similar background, achieving and doing well – so you know it can be possible for yourself, I believe this is especially important for the younger generation. Thankfully, we can now see black role models, and a more diverse team, across GBG and it's something I know the company is striving to continue improving.
How do you celebrate or reward your accomplishments and career achievements.
Honestly. I keep it moving and say to myself, I’m not surprised because it was meant to happen. If I’ve worked this hard shouldn’t I deserve these results?
I also recognise I can learn and improve from my failures, not just my accomplishments. Failures are a big part of the journey toward success, you have to be aware and ready to accept this. Not everything goes your way in life, so it’s how you can learn from those experiences and turn them into wins.
And do you share those learnings with others?
I joined the GBG mentorship programme to learn from others and to give someone else 1% of knowledge and guidance that I didn’t have. Most things I do in my personal life along with my friends are first generational. What I mean by this is I make the mistakes and do the hard yards of learning, so that it makes it easier for when I or another in my circle come to do it. It’s about paying it forward and giving others the chance to share in my experiences, knowledge and skills.
Finally, what advice would you give to those who are currently navigating homogenous workspaces?
My advice is to stay true to yourself. It sounds cliché but embrace being the positive disruptor/influencer. Influencers break the status quo shaking things up. That’s a great place to be.
When I started I didn’t do that. I didn’t necessarily talk about all the things I knew or share my background, often I felt the need to code-switch to fit in with the environment around me and that became the norm.
But GBG now is worlds apart from when I started, it’s in a good place but still has further to go. Confidence plays a big part in this. Being confident to be different. I’m confident in my ability to do my role, to take initiative and trust my intuition, to not be afraid to push back when the customer challenges you on price and confident in the products we offer, knowing they help solve challenges our customers are facing. Which is why I’m putting myself forward to help change things.
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