Career Journeys @ Twilio: Becoming a Sales Leader

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June 21, 2022
Written by

Name: Grace Kim

Role: Director, Strategic Growth Accounts

Home Base: San Francisco, California, United States

Fun fact: Grace was the captain of Columbia University’s Women’s Varsity Archery Team, winning the US Intercollegiate Archery Championships in 2013.


Career Journeys at Twilio: Grace timeline


How does a new college grad leapfrog from an entry-level sales job to a role that touches nearly every aspect of the company in just seven years?

Twilio’s Director of Strategic Growth Accounts, Grace Kim, did it with intention, passion, and drive.

Upon graduating from Columbia University, Grace was sure of just one thing — she wanted to work in software. She had always been interested in tech and felt that would be an ideal start to her career. At some point, the goal got more specific: Grace dreamt of being a CRO at a tech startup.

Her journey with Twilio, and the skills and experiences she’s picked up along the way, is an inspiring tale — and she’s just getting started.

The Chance to Build Something Great

Just months after graduating, Grace interviewed at several big tech firms but never quite felt a connection. While enterprise companies looked great on paper, she realized that a smaller company was where she could more quickly make a real difference.

A friend referred Grace to Twilio’s Sales team, and, after several meaningful exchanges during the interview process, she found herself beyond impressed by the company’s people, culture, and core values — something Twilions call the Twilio Magic.

“There wasn’t one conversation that I didn’t enjoy,” recalls Grace. “Every interview I had was genuine and authentic.” She felt a true connection with the company’s mission and daydreamed about working there. After interviewing, Twilio called with an entry-level job offer for a Business Development Representative (BDR) with the Inbound Sales team. Grace jumped at it.

“The BDR role was the best introduction I could have hoped for,” she says. “It’s like an intense crash course. Connecting directly with customers is the best way to learn about Twilio.”

Grace and her coworkers

Getting Closer to Customers

As Grace nurtured relationships and connected customers to solutions that solved their immediate business challenges, she became curious about what happens after prospects become customers. She wanted to be part of their continued journey with Twilio’s technology.

So, when an opportunity to transition from Inbound Sales to the Customer Success team became available, Grace took it without hesitation and loved it. Plus, it opened her eyes to the idea that she might be good at building more than just relationships. Maybe she wanted to build a team.

“I told my director that I was very interested in people management,” says Grace. “There was no question that this was my career path, so I just made it really clear.”

With guidance and coaching from her leadership team, Grace built the skills needed and, within a year, moved into her first people management role, helping gather the expertise that would eventually evolve into managing the Sales Development team. Interestingly, Grace was now managing the group she was part of when she first joined Twilio!

Strengthening Her Analytical Skills

After four years of natural career progressions, Grace was ready to make a hard pivot. She considered leaving Twilio — even giving her notice at one point — searching for a job that would develop her analytical skills. But before she could walk out, her Human Resources Business Partner suggested she connect with Twilio’s Chief Operating Officer.

That conversation left a big impression on Grace. After listening to her professional ambitions, Twilio presented a compelling opportunity to allow Grace to pursue her goals and simultaneously fill a new company need: as a manager in Twilio Go-to-Market Finance.

For Grace, finance was a whole new ballgame. “That was one of the roles that I enjoyed the most because it was the one that I was most uncomfortable in,” she says. “The department leaders gave me the room to fail — and learn — fast.”

In this new role, Grace partnered with executives to analyze data, collaborate on investment strategies, and drive annual planning. She was proud of the analytical skills she had earned through that experience. “I learned even more than I could have imagined,” she recalled.

But, after two years, there was an itch to try something new.

Grace was at a career crossroads when she applied and got accepted into business school. After careful consideration, Grace instead chose to return to where it all started — Twilio Sales — and took a position as the Chief of Staff for the Global Chief Revenue Officer. “This role was more compelling than going to school,” she says. “It was the business school I didn’t know I needed: real-life, in-person learning.”

Empowering Others Through Community 

Not content with just building her own career, Grace was also eager to build on Twilio’s promise to elevate diverse communities within the company. So, in 2020, when Twilions were in pandemic lockdown, Grace heard that the Asians@Twilio employee resource group (ERG) was leaderless and in need of a refresh.

With a team of like-minded Twilions, Grace spent the next 18 months looking for ways to revive and re-energize the group, hosting virtual events to foster connections and creating a safe space to discuss important issues, especially during emerging incidents of Asian hate crime.

“This was one of the initiatives I’m most proud of because we were able to help provide a sense of community during a really tough time, especially in a remote world,” Grace admits. She added that over the years, Twilio has hired full-time support and executive sponsorship and has invested more in ERGs.

Zoom screenshot of Asians @ Twilio Employee Resource Group

Seeking Progress Over Perfection

Reflecting on her Twilio career, Grace appreciates the company’s broader culture of continuous learning — one that considers, in addition to past experiences, someone’s drive, perseverance, and a positive attitude when determining their readiness for a particular role.

“Our Customer Success Director at that time was very transparent that he wanted to find ‘doers’,” she says. “They didn’t have to be the perfect candidate on paper, but they had to have the muscle motion to get things done. That mindset had a lot of influence on me early in my career.”

That same spirit of empowerment — prioritizing people’s passions and values — is found in Grace’s own management style. “You don’t have to have the perfect resume. You don’t have to check every box on the job description. If you can show that you can do something, you should seize the opportunity.”

No one knows this better than Grace, who just took on a new role as Director of Strategic Growth Accounts. It’s been an exciting journey — and we can’t wait to see where she’ll go next.


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