As winner of the Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) Shining Star (Vendor) award in 2021, Davinia Simon reshaped how her previous employer, Amazon Web Services (AWS), connected with local partners and promoted them on the global stage.
Davinia was also responsible for empowering field teams to reach C-level decision makers.
How did you get your break in the IT industry and progress to the role you have today?
I spent nearly a decade in recruitment, predominantly placing candidates into IT roles. Over the years I learnt a lot about the people and companies I was recruiting for and I started to identify certain types of IT companies that one day I wanted to work at.
Adobe was one of those companies. In 2012, the company started building out its local digital marketing technology sales team. I was very lucky that its leadership team recognised the transferable skills I had from recruitment and how they could be applied in sales. Digital marketing was quite new at the time and, fortunately for me, Adobe was known for its pioneering nature in diversity and hiring where they saw potential.
It was a great move. My leaders were phenomenal mentors, and they coached me to succeed at Adobe. Across six-plus years, I had exposure to different types of selling – from enterprise to mid-market and public sector – which gave me well-rounded experience to take into my next role at AWS.
AWS’ leadership team took that support to the next level and gave me countless opportunities to grow and develop across different areas of the business. I managed enterprise sales teams, promoted new areas of growth and supported key accounts to drive innovation.
As I considered my next career move, I recognised that I’d always delivered direct sales and had a gap in helping scale through partnerships. This led me to transition to my final role at AWS, leading the channel and alliances for Australia and New Zealand. I loved working with partners through storytelling and enablement, helping them grow, accelerate innovation and reach global audiences.
Had I not been in that role, I wouldn’t have met the team at Stax or seen how powerful their native AWS cloud management platform is for helping organisations make cloud a competitive advantage. I’ve long believed that it’s important to build well-rounded skills and now at Stax, as the head of sales and growth markets, I’m realising a range of career goals. I have responsibility for both direct and indirect sales and can look at growth more holistically, particularly as we expand internationally.
What have been some of your career highlights and proudest moments?
My proudest moments mostly come from the development of others. It’s something I’m particularly passionate about, having been the recipient of a lot of good mentoring and development throughout my career. So many people have coached and championed me through different roles and opportunities, so the least I can do is pay it forward.
It was early in my career but helping thousands of graduates to commence roles in IT is a huge highlight. Many of those people have become really close friends and we stay in touch to this day. A lot of them have also gone on to have extremely successful careers, both in Australia and across the globe. To have played a small role in their story makes me immensely proud.
In more recent years, I’ve been asked to mentor quite a few people. It’s a huge compliment and a role that I take very seriously. I will mentor as many people as I have the capacity to because I believe it’s important to share knowledge and guidance.
What’s more, I tend to learn as much as my mentee, if not more, in the time we spend together. Given the position I’m in now, I also really want to create a platform with which the people around me get recognised for their great work.
What are some of the key lessons you've learnt along the way?
The first would be the value of good mentors. I’ve proactively sought out good mentors from a diverse range of backgrounds throughout my career. They’ve been internal and external to my workplace and have helped ignite a lot of passion and revelatory moments.
One of my most prominent mentors, who sadly passed away a few years ago, taught me that a mentor doesn’t have to have all the answers. But if you ask the right questions, your mentee will figure out the right approach themselves. It’s not about telling someone how to do something, it’s about providing the space to question, consider options and discuss ideas and mentoring is a muscle that grows stronger over time.
Second is the importance of being vocal about what you want from your career. Particularly as a female, it’s important to be clear about your goals. By clearly setting out what you want, people can help guide you because there’s a tangible goal. Too often we expect someone will be able to get us where we want to go. But it doesn’t just happen organically, sometimes you need to hustle a bit along the way.
What are some of your professional ambitions in the months ahead?
I joined Stax earlier this year and am so excited for the opportunities we have ahead of us. Of course, I’m driven by the great technology and how it helps companies gain the confidence and security to build on AWS with ease and speed, but I’m also able to extend my passions to new professional ambitions.
That includes launching into new markets, like New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the US. The sky is the limit, and I’m ecstatic about the value we can deliver for customers and partners across the globe.
I’m also focused on ensuring that Stax is one of the best employers in technology. I fundamentally believe that by creating a great culture and environment we can foster and support great individuals to perform at their absolute best.
Who or what has influenced you professionally?
I’m drawn to people that are inexcusably authentic. The straight talkers that tell it how it is. That share the good, bad and ugly feedback. Those people have been invaluable because they haven’t tried to people please or make me feel good 24/7. They’ve told the hard truths and pushed me outside my comfort zone, helping me become better every day.
My leaders and mentors have encouraged me to build mastery, tackle challenges headfirst, take risks and accept setbacks as part of the learning process. It requires a growth mindset to constantly seek improvement but I’m so appreciative for those that have challenged me to do and be better – building that confidence has been incredibly powerful for my career.