The Power of Mentorship: Empowering Women in Sales at Twilio

September 01, 2022
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The Power of Mentorship

When you're uncertain about what next steps to take — whether in school or business — knowing someone who can offer advice, present alternative perspectives, and provide reassurance and support is invaluable. That’s the power of mentorship.

As reported by Forbes, many of today's companies — especially at the enterprise level — have noticed the impact of mentorship and are leveraging mentoring to engage, develop and retain talent. In the U.S., for example, you can find mentoring programs at 84% of the Fortune 500. And while mentorship was popular pre-Covid, it may be even more important today in remote-work environments. 

Women In Sales: Mentoring at Twilio

Not long ago, two women sales professionals saw an opportunity to make a long-term impact within Twilio by replicating the success of a mentorship program one had experienced earlier in her career.

"In the past 50 years, women have made huge strides in career equality, and I believe that a part of that achievement has roots in mentorship," said  Laura Landau, Commercial Sales Manager at Twilio. "The relationship I formed with my mentor was special and unique, and as an immigrant and a woman in a male-dominated discipline, I knew I could build on that."

She found a like-minded colleague in Jill Barrientos, a Mid-Market, Account Executive at Twilio — Landau and Barrientos joined forces and agreed that a mentorship program created by, and for, women in sales was needed at Twilio and could be a huge success.

Worldwide Impact

With support from Twilio leadership and  Women In Sales (WIS) group — led by Alyson Welch, Vice President, NA Enterprise General Business, and Debbie Wishart, Vice President of Sales, Public Sector, the Women In Sales (WIS) Mentorship program kicked off in 2020, expecting maybe 50 participants to sign up for the first cohort. Instead, enrollment blossomed to over 200. To date, the program has impacted over 350 Twilions, both mentors and mentees, in the company’s global Go-To-Market sales organization. Participant’s roles range from sales development representatives to executives.

Indeed, the program has a worldwide impact, reaching every region where Twilio has customers. And while 75% of participants are based in North America, there is growing interest and representation in EMEA, LATAM, and APJ.

Regardless of where participants lived and worked, mentees joined the program's first cohort with similar goals: career progression, professional development, and growing sales skills topping the list. Networking was also important, as was advice on managing work/life balance and overcoming imposter syndrome, that persistent feeling of self-doubt despite accomplishments.

Expanding WIS Mentorship at Twilio

Now in its second cohort, Landau and Barrientos each created a video to spotlight how the Women In Sales Mentorship Program came about and what the program entails.

Laura Landau
Jill Barrientos
Laura Landau discusses how her personal career growth story inspired the WIS mentorship program. WATCH VIDEOJill Barrientos explains the vision for all new Twilions to have access to mentoring opportunities from day one. WATCH VIDEO


Mentoring engagements and cross-gender impact

"When onboarding mentors, we screen for Twilions who’ve had diverse experiences in sales and business and can provide career guidance, insight, and practical advice," says Laura. "Mentees, on the other hand, should be great listeners, be open-minded, and have a strong desire to learn and succeed. A relationship builds through a series of scheduled check-ins and, eventually, both the mentee and the mentor may find that the enrichment runs in both directions."

That's an important takeaway, as data shows that 31% of participants in the first cohort acted as both a mentee and a mentor.  

"And even though it's called the Women in Sales Mentorship program, it's not just female mentors who are involved," adds Barrientos. "Support that crosses gender lines builds trust, makes teams stronger and results in healthier business and career outcomes. From the outset, engaging men in our mentorship program has been key."

In the first cohort alone, the WIS Mentorship program generated over 600 engaging 1:1 meet-ups between mentors and mentees, and, as the following testimonials reveal, the feedback has been encouraging.

"Having someone within Twilio with more experience and a deeper understanding of how to be effective in my role was invaluable during this chaotic time as a first-time manager. I'm so grateful for having someone who was so helpful and kind to guide me through this stage of my career."

— Megan Cummings / Manager, Solutions Engineering / Mentee, Cohort #1

"In a virtual world, it's important to keep meeting new people and getting help, direction, guidance, and advice, whenever and however you can since access to people is a lot harder these days. Also, Twilio has a strong presence of women in sales, so we need to continue fostering that culture and help more women move up the ranks."

— John Sepassi / Mid-Market Account Executive / Mentor, Cohort #1

"One-on-one time with another Twilion to help them progress in their career and offer advice as someone who's moved careers and been at Twilio for a few years. A great plan to exchange ideas and ways to work together that we normally wouldn't see."

— Sean Esna / Global Enablement BP - Flex product / Mentor, Cohort #1

Landau and Barrientos were also pleased to see that mentoring is not a "one-and-done" type of experience.  They found that 97% of participants in the first cohort rated their experience as good or excellent, and 78% showed interest in participating in a future cohort.

Empowering Women to Win in 2023

At Twilio, we believe in the power of empowering others and are excited that the Women In Sales Mentorship program continues to bring this value to life. In 2023, our third cohort will aim to build upon the connections Twilions have fostered across different teams and segments and help them develop relationships, improve performance, and accelerate career progression.

Are you considering joining the Twilio Sales team?  

If you're  starting —  advancing — or have excelled in your sales career and would find value in connecting with a great mentor or becoming one, know that Twilio is hiring, and we're very interested in speaking with you. View open positions.