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The experiences that shape leaders are many and varied. In addition to professional pursuits, it's not uncommon to hone leadership skills while competing on sports teams, by stepping into high-visibility roles in high school and college, and raising a family. Melissa Murray Bailey, Senior VP Global Sales for Hootsuite, can check all those off her list. But she has the added distinction of having run for mayor of Philadelphia.This comes as no surprise to those who know Melissa well. Those who knew her growing up remember her standing in for Bill Clinton. When she was in eighth grade, Melissa’s school put on a schoolwide debate during the presidential election. She raised her hand to be Bill Clinton because she felt enthusiastic about his focus on helping people and making education more accessible.
“I don’t love being in the spotlight but I get energy from helping people solve big problems. That was the first time I had to fight for what I believed in,” says Melissa.
That experience inspired and motivated Melissa to run for political office as her daughter was entering elementary school. After learning 250,000 children in Philadelphia were living in poverty, Melissa decided to do something about it. Though she didn’t win the mayor’s seat, that and her other leadership experiences – and commitment to acting with purpose – paved the way for Melissa’s career.Months after running for political office, Melissa got a call from LinkedIn inviting her to become Senior Director of Sales Solutions in Asia Pacific. “Once I learned about LinkedIn’s aspiration to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce and its vision for creating an ecosystem where people could find opportunities, I had to be part of the company,” she says.A previous role as an account manager at Corporate Executive Board (CEB) was Melissa’s first foray into sales. And her abilities were tested under fire. Given the assignment to open a new CEB office in Australia, Melissa’s boss said she couldn’t hire anyone until she sold a new client. Having no experience outside of renewals and upsells, Melissa was in unfamiliar territory. After striking out with her prospecting, she solicited guidance from a trusted sales colleague. “I finally succeeded but it was difficult to realize I needed somebody to teach me.”Perhaps that experience shaped her approach to leading her sales organization at Hootsuite. “I make sure we are investing in our sales reps in a meaningful and structured way, with a curriculum to develop skills, create compelling career paths, and help them be super engaged. Because the best way to grow a company is by helping people do well at what they love.”Some of Melissa’s other keys to success: