Switching Goals: From Professional Rugby to Inbound Sales

As Inbound Sales Representatives, Cathal and his teammates are responsible for introducing small and medium-sized businesses to Personio, offering needs-based solutions, and helping them become satisfied customers. But Cathal’s journey to Personio was more convoluted than most, beginning with professional rugby in New York before joining our International Sales team in Dublin. Read our conversation with Cathal to learn more about his journey, why he chose Personio, and how his experiences in rugby helped prepare him for his role in Sales.

What did you do before joining Personio?

While studying Business, Economics, and Social Studies at Trinity College in Dublin, I also joined Leinster Academy as a professional rugby player. I played with Leinster full time for another six years after graduation before moving to New York to play for Rugby United NY in the new American professional league.

Playing in New York for two years was great, but, like with everything else, the pandemic disrupted our upcoming season. At this point I moved back to Dublin and started thinking about what life after rugby might look like, and if a career change might be the right next step for me.

Why did you choose Personio?

I knew that the tech scene in Dublin was taking off, so I reached out to some contacts and friends in the industry to find out more about how I could get involved. I was also following Personio and their news, and saw their recent funding rounds and that they wanted to invest more in Dublin and set up an office here. I thought it looked like a great company, and with Personio in hyper-growth, I figured it was a place where I could make a real impact in the business.

Cathal with co-workers in Dublin.

Cathal with co-workers in Dublin.

What does your daily work look like?

I’m a Senior Inbound Sales Representative now, but I actually joined the Dublin team a year ago as the first ISR for the international team outside of the DACH region. On the day-to-day, I’m the first point of contact for companies who approach us and want to learn more about our offering. I meet with them to walk them through Personio, learn more about their own needs, and make sure our product is the right solution for them.

What skills did you learn from Rugby that apply to your job in Sales?

I actually found that there is quite a lot of crossover between my role now, and my time playing rugby. For example, time management is crucial to both roles. The ability to schedule your day, be super organized throughout, and prioritize tasks and actions are skills which are at the core of playing for a sports team, and also being part of a sales team.

Being driven is also key. I always want to make as much of an impact as possible in whatever role I hold, and focusing on maximum impact is a skill I definitely took from my time playing rugby. And on top of this, being able to be coachable, take on feedback, and mold the way you work accordingly, is a skill I took directly from the pitch to Personio.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the transition?

This was my first role outside of sports, so moving into my job at Personio was a steep learning curve. Getting used to the software that Personio uses, taking and making customer calls, and learning how to ask the right sort of questions and understand different companies’ needs and goals, were probably the main things I had to learn and pick up.

Overcoming them was made easier as I was coached really well by the Sales team, and they were always on hand to answer any questions I had. I also made sure that I shadowed others as much as possible, to try and learn from managers. Learning from others, as well as from my own experiences, and taking on feedback was crucial to my development in the role.

Cathal and his teammates during our Personio Halloween Party.

Cathal and his teammates during our Personio Halloween Party.

What advice would you give to others looking to make a big career change?

My key advice is to just do your research! Be really curious and ask a lot of questions about the role from those taking a similar journey to you. Speak to people about the different experiences you might have – the positives and the negatives – and make sure you do a deep dive into the role and the sector to make sure it’s right for you. Switching careers is a brave and bold step to take, and can be made much less daunting if you do your research first.

Are you ready to make a change yourself? We’re hiring multiple Sales roles in our Dublin, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, and Munich offices. Head to our careers page and apply today!

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