Opinions & Insights
Meet our Netlifolks: Reesa Hylton
As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to highlight some of our amazing team members to amplify their voices during this critical month. Meet Reesa, Business Development Representative at Netlify.
What was your path to Netlify and what were your first impressions of the company?
I graduated from college in 2019 and while I did hold a short-term internship, Netlify is my first real job out of college. I was born and raised in New York and moved out to California almost by accident. I was applying for jobs and realized that I accidentally applied for California-based roles, but I ended up getting accepted to an internship and decided to join it. I'd never lived outside of the East Coast so saw it as an opportunity to try California out for a few months. I ended up loving it out in the Bay and met great people. I found out about Netlify when I was introduced to Nelson, who is another member of the sales team. He mentioned that the team was hiring and thought I would be a great fit so I ended up applying for the role.
The role was pretty different than anything I'd done before because I have a background in media relations and studied journalism and psychology. It was quite fitting though because being in sales involves talking to others, getting information input, digesting it all, and sharing it with others. It's been a cool experience to see how my college education and past experiences have helped support me in taking on a role different from anything I've done before.
In terms of my first impressions of the company, it was definitely a big learning experience because I hadn't worked in the tech space before joining but I was interested in it. My internship was with WeWork, so I had a bit of exposure to the tech industry, and when Nelson brought the role to my attention I was excited to learn more. It was also helpful to have Nelson's insights because he helped encourage me around some of the areas that I could learn and grow. Of course, since it was something unfamiliar there were initial nerves but I was confident in my ability to learn and adapt. Before graduating school was my life, so learning was something familiar that I'm comfortable with.
Tell me more about your role and your team.
I'm a Business Development Rep with the sales team, so that means that I'm that first point of contact for our customers to chat and explore what we offer. My role is to connect with our customers and potential customers to get an understanding of what projects they're working on, what their team looks like, and what they're building, and get an understanding of the purpose of their web projects. From there I connect them with the most useful resource that will help them continue to move forward with their project. That can include suggesting resources in the sense of docs, blogs, or community pages, or connecting them with our accounts team to help them explore an enterprise plan and continue growing their web properties.
What is your team culture like?
One of the nice things about our team is that we feel connected in a bubble because we work with each other so frequently. Because my job is to connect our customers to the best resources, I'm constantly working across the team. We have other business development team members, as well as account executives, account managers, and solutions engineers under the sales umbrella. Our entire sales team meets every Monday and Friday so we're able to stay connected. It hasn't ever felt isolating being remote because our work overlaps frequently so I'm constantly collaborating with my team over Slack and Zoom. We communicate internally largely through Slack and Zoom, while externally we often interact with customers through email and Zoom.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day would be to wake up, scan my email to see if I've gotten any responses overnight, then make some tea and start to send out calendar invites that align with those emails that I've received. Then I focus on our sales forms, which are inbound leads meaning people write in wanting to know more about Netlify with a specific project or questions in mind. Requests will come in and I'll work on constructing emails and scheduling phone calls.
My boyfriend and I like to do a midday backgammon game, to help break up the day. It helps me engage my mind in something different before I get back into the second half of my day. Because most of my team is in Pacific Time, sometimes my hours shift a bit depending on what calls I need to be making.
The rest of my day I'll spend making phone calls and talking to different customers to learn about what they're working on and passing them on to the next step, which means connecting with our accounts team or further sales engagement. I'll typically spend my afternoon on 3-5 introductory calls to get a good sense of what the team is working on and learn what's important to them. I love meeting new people. It's fascinating to constantly learn about what projects customers are working on. I think that's where my journalism background comes in, but we're focused on having more of a conversation and less of an interview. It's valuable to be able to have that engagement and learn about others.
I love meeting new people. It’s fascinating to constantly learn about what projects customers are working on.
What's something exciting that you've been working on? What's the most rewarding initiative you've worked on?
It's rewarding being the first point of contact, which is a major stepping stone in a project. It's exciting to be able to be that building block to help the team succeed as a whole and make sure that I'm learning from my mistakes to be a better contributor to the team. In sales, I get to see firsthand how Netlify benefits the people using our platform. Customers will come to me with problems, so I get to help partner with them and be their problem solver. They'll talk through what they are working on and I can help fill them in on how we get them from A to Z. I am part of that process and help solve their problems in a more efficient way.
How has our Black at Netlify employee resource group improved your sense of belonging at Netlify?
It has been nice to have a place to see others that look like me and see myself represented. I'm very familiar with being the only person who looks like me in a room or in a situation since I grew up in Westchester, NY, which is not a very diverse area at all. So, when moving forward in life and in my career that is always something that I was thinking about and focused on making sure that it was top of mind in companies. It's valuable to find a company that has people who look like me and gives me access to these spaces, and I think having a channel where other Black Netlifolks are is really nice. It's great to see the different representations and be able to have conversations that wouldn't necessarily be top of mind for everyone.
It has been nice to have a place to see others that look like me and see myself represented...It’s valuable to find a company that has people who look like me and gives me access to these spaces, and I think having a channel where other Black Netlifolks are is really nice.
What has your experience been like working remotely?
I think that remote work is obviously something we've all been adjusting to but I've found a lot of benefits from it. It's been helpful for me to have a designated work area and then another area to relax in after I finish working. I try to set strict goals and boundaries in a healthy way and make sure I am taking the time for myself to disconnect.
Our team interacts well remotely. For example, in the mornings we'll send a few 'Good Morning' messages back and forth through Slack and will talk about how our weekends were. I think that some of that chitchat can easily be lost because you're not passing each other in the hallway so it's important for me to show that I care about my team member's lives outside of work. That has helped me feel bonded even if we haven't been able to meet in-person.
In terms of remote culture, I recently had a "Donut" call, where we get paired up with a coworker from another team. We talked about what it's like to be remote and it was great to hear from someone else who has been remote for years even prior to Netlify that it's the best remote culture they've ever experienced. There was a certain comfort in hearing that knowing that this is my first remote experience so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I do think it's something we do well.
Is there a particular memory or moment from your time here that kind of stands out?
I actually interviewed with my team in-person before the pandemic so that memory definitely stands out to me as being the only in-person interaction we've had. I remember my interview being so much fun and thinking that it felt like the team would be people that I'd enjoy working with. Obviously work is a large portion of your waking hours and I think it's a good sign for me that I loved everyone I met with. I came out of the interview thinking that it was so much fun to meet with so many different people. That was a positive sign that stood out to me and has carried over since then.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to join Netlify?
My advice is - do it! What I love about Netlify is that it is a great place to learn and grow. We're in a fun stage where we're past that smaller start-up stage and there is lots of growth and opportunity. It's great to be a contributing factor to the team and know your input is taken seriously. No one is seen as being too new on the team to have an opinion.
What I love about Netlify is that it is a great place to learn and grow.
What are some fun facts about you?
One fun fact is that I'm really into needle pointing! Another part of my life that I've been sort of reconnected with during this time is that I used to do competitive horseback riding growing up, and while I took a break from it for a while, it has proven to be great to revisit. It's also very social-distance friendly so has been great. It teaches you lots of discipline and has been fun.