This week Cobalt gained a new addition to our executive team: Jeri Allan, who joined as Chief Sales Officer. Jeri’s resume tells the story of a decades-long obsession with driving alignment and transformation throughout sales organizations, whether it’s managing a turnaround or breaking into a new market.
In this interview, she talks about her career trajectory and how she landed at Cobalt.
Welcome aboard, Jeri! So why Cobalt?
I am always looking for a challenge, and had been feeling like I was ready for something new. I met Chris [Manton-Jones, CEO] and talked to him about what Cobalt was looking for with this role. The position felt like a great match, for many reasons. And as I met the team, I felt strongly that this was a group I would love to work with. I also have a background in security, and had a strong interest in getting back into it, so the industry held major appeal.
When I dug into Cobalt, and read up on PtaaS, I realized that it’s a beautifully simple, compelling model that delivers real value to companies. Digital transformation has totally changed the world of business, but pentesting hasn’t evolved. Cobalt is disrupting this space, with its approach to modern pentesting, and I became a big believer.
What can you tell us that we can’t learn from reading your LinkedIn profile?
By way of response to that question, how about I share some career highlights?
At IBM I had the opportunity to build two sales organizations, from the ground up. I started the first ever sales team at IBM that exclusively sold security products. That entailed massive growth; I took it from literally no revenue and zero people to more than 100 team members and $70 million in the span of 2 years.
After IBM I worked for a few smaller, privately held companies. I achieved a lot during that time that I am really proud of, particularly at INTTRA, which I helped to grow and bring to a successful exit.
I have become known for taking on sales organizations that are ready to get to the next level in their evolution and growth. Once or twice I’ve come on board and things resembled “the wild west” when I got there, with some growing pains to address. Often that was because the processes and procedures of a mature sales organization needed to be implemented. In these cases I was able to execute a full-scale transformation, ensuring the team followed sales best practices: leveraging a consistent sales process, religious use of the CRM, and more accurate forecasting. This enabled us to provide reliable insights to the executive team and our investors, and to accelerate the growth trajectory of the company.
What does high performance mean to you, as a sales leader?
A lot of people might say it means hitting quota. I’d say it’s exceeding quota. And also laying the foundation for ongoing growth, which requires strong planning and a maniacal focus on execution.
I’ve learned that “One Cobalt” is one of our company values. I share a common DNA with Cobalt in that regard, because it’s a concept that strongly resonates with me. It takes a team to win. As a sales leader, Marketing, Product, and Customer Success are the organizations that I work with most closely, and those have to be tight relationships. It’s not just those teams, of course, but my point is that you can’t be a lone wolf to be a high performer. One plus one equals three.
What’s your leadership philosophy?
I like to lead from the front. I love being out in the field meeting with customers and spending time with my team – getting to know them both personally and professionally. I also love to mentor and coach. Many people throughout my career helped me get to where I am today, so I like to pay it forward.
Can you share a bit about your life outside of work?
I have a daughter who is going to study engineering, which I’m so excited about. I have an engineering degree myself, and my husband was a physics major, so I guess she was destined to be in STEM. She’s a competitive figure skater, which she gets from me – I played ice hockey in college and wanted her to learn to skate, so I got her on the ice when she was 3.
I enjoy traveling, going to the theater, hiking, kayaking, and believe it or not, shoveling snow! I also am a really big fan of Dr. Seuss. Anyone curious about that last one has to get in touch with me to learn more.