As an account executive, Ivan Cahuana has gained plenty of experience developing relationships with his peers and customers. But his journey at Confluent didn’t start there.
Find out how Ivan got his start at the company as a sales development representative (SDR).
Tell us about your path to Confluent. Where did you start and what is your team and role today?
I actually didn’t make it the first time I interviewed for an SDR role with Confluent back in 2020. Looking back, what helped me in my journey to where I’m at now is that I asked for feedback after the interview. I took what was shared with me and joined a boot camp program to better hone in on the skills I needed for the role.
I came back to the same leaders a quarter later and let them know how I improved my skills based on the feedback they provided. I also asked how they would go about considering someone for a second chance, which led to another opportunity to interview.
From there, I joined as the first Commercial SDR, which was a newly formed team where I focused on supporting the Central, Canada, and LATAM teams. I was then promoted in 2022 to an account executive (AE) role on the Startups and Emerging Businesses team—where I was fortunate to earn the President’s Club award during my first year as an AE.
I was then promoted again in 2023 as an AE on the Digital Native and Growth Businesses team. My team is part of the Commercial segment supporting high-growth companies, and my role is to help these companies adopt event streaming as a scalable backend for their entire business.
What made you interested in working here? What was the deciding factor?
My interest was a mixture of things. When I was researching Confluent, what made me excited about working here was the technology. Kafka plays such an important role as the core platform for many enterprises and it has been well adopted. I’d also be prospecting to Engineering leaders whom I never had a chance to work with in my previous roles. And finally, Confluent was on a trajectory for continued growth. I knew I wanted to become an AE in tech and with no connections to the space, I needed to work hard as a SDR and produce consistent and solid results in order to reach my goal of becoming an AE.
The deciding factor was definitely the SDR leaders and the fact that I was joining as the first SDR in the Commercial segment. When interacting with the leadership team throughout the interview process, I felt that these are the people I want to work with and for, and as an SDR I could help impact the PLG motion on the Commercial team early on.
What does a typical day look like as a Confluent AE and as a remote employee? What are you most excited to be working on?
No day is the same in the life of an Account Executive, which makes it fun and keeps you on your toes! It really depends on what is happening that week. I typically structure my day with tasks revolving around what my customers need, meetings, prospecting, coaching and mentoring new Account Executives, and continuously learning about our product and new features.
One of the aspects of my role I enjoy is getting to work with other teams at Confluent. Slack communications back and forth with some gifs or jokes always helps to build and maintain rapport. Because most of us work from home, having monthly or quarterly Zoom calls with colleagues to check in and catch up helps us stay connected.
What I enjoy the most about my role is the fact that I am learning about the newest and upcoming technologies from companies that require Kafka and also working with many different kinds of people both internally and externally. The tech industry can be a small world and there’s a likelihood you might interact with some of the people you work with today in the future.
How would you describe Confluent’s company culture?
Diverse, flexible, and fast-paced.
We have employees globally which brings in different perspectives and ideas. We are also a remote-first company that offers flexibility for everyone. Finally, given the tech industry is always evolving and Confluent has been growing rapidly, it makes the role fast-paced which means we need to be able to adapt to change.
We also have an annual event called Growth Kick-Off, where Sales, Marketing, SalesOps, and many more teams come together in person at the beginning of the year to celebrate and recognize the previous year’s success, pump the team up with lots of learning about Confluent for the coming year. It is a great way to interact with colleagues who are on cross-functional teams or have only ever met over Zoom.