Melissa Stapleton has been shaping the culture at Nutanix for years. “When I started at Nutanix back in 2012, we really were a true startup. Everyone was involved. Everyone was very passionate about that. And I think that as we’ve grown, we’ve really tried to keep that culture.”
From the Beginning
Melissa continues to foster the culture that has made Nutanix an amazing place to work since the early days. Her team describes her as authentic, passionate, humble, and one who never settles for second best. While she started out as a Sales Development Representative, Melissa now combines her competitive side and teaching skills as a leader at Nutanix, where she oversees 80+ employees in her department as Director of Inside Sales.
“It’s a place where you get to decide how successful you want to be and how much you want to impact Nutanix history, and I don’t think there’s a lot of companies where you can actually see what you’re doing today, and you can see that difference in Nutanix as early as tomorrow. That is something that’s really important to Nutanix.”
Encouraging Our Voices
Melissa focuses on preserving the accessibility to executives that has been a tradition. “You can meet with anyone and give feedback, advice or ideas of what Nutanix could be. We’re always trying to innovate ourselves and become better as individuals and as a company.” She shares opportunities for people to be heard like “lunch and learns” and scheduled coffee and donuts with executives. These meetups can be a space for feedback or even just sharing a favorite book recommendation.
Melissa shares a pivotal moment in her journey at Nutanix. In one of her first meetings with many executives in the room, Melissa had planned on just listening, when suddenly she heard her VP ask, “Melissa, what do you think?” “He noticed I wasn’t speaking up and wanted to make sure that I did. To me, now that I’ve had that experience as an individual, I’ve noticed more and more leaders doing that for people on their team.”
As a leader, Melissa creates an environment that encourages everyone to speak up and offer suggestions. This creates a space where everyone feels heard. This strategy ensures we’re making the right decisions as a company and as a team. “It makes people feel so important, and it allows people to feel like they can bring any idea to the table, whether it’s used or not. And I think it’s just so important that people feel that this is an environment where they can be heard. Use your voice. Help us figure out where we need to improve.”
Inspiration, Not Competition
An avid Warriors fan, Melissa takes a play from Coach Steve Kerr’s playbook. Kerr allows the team to hold each other accountable. While many sales teams across industries operate on a model of competition motivated by scarcity, Melissa has created a space where her representatives inspire each other to be better.
The venture-level Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) work on whiteboard presentations and the employees practice with each other before their presentations. Even after SDRs are “whiteboard certified,” they get inspired by other people’s presentations and use them to improve their own. Creating an environment where employees are uplifting each other as a team goes much further.
The “secret sauce” to Melissa’s leadership is not so secret: “We’re all in this together,” Melissa explains. “The title is just getting you into a different meeting, basically.” Just as the Warriors have a unifying goal of winning a game, Nutants are “all in” to create success. “Everyone is working towards the same goal and trying to figure out, ‘How do we get there?’ If you don’t know what goal you’re working towards and you don’t feel like you’re in that with the entire company, it’s harder to work toward that goal."
Diversity and Heart
When talking about bringing more diversity and inclusion to the tech industry, Melissa considers her position as a female leader “not necessarily a norm in sales.” She believes the path to more diversity in tech is to make the industry a more desirable place to work for those who may not have felt like they were welcome in years past. “It’s not just diversity by gender or color. It’s also about diversity of beliefs and diversity in the way people think. I never want to hire the same person twice.”
Melissa leads with heart and stresses the importance of showing empathy and compassion in leadership roles. “Showing who I am as a leader and having leaders show me empathy has really changed the way I lead and is changing the way I view and make decisions. I think a lot of people in the tech industry shield themselves and aren’t vulnerable as leaders, but you’re not going to get people who want to be part of your team and fight in that journey with you if you’re not showing people who you really are.” We are so glad to be on your team, Melissa.