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Confluent Champion: Journey to Regional Director in Tech Sales

Ariel Gan Regional Director, Southeast Digital Native + Emerging Markets

In his three years at Confluent, Ariel Gan has helped companies across industries solve technical and business challenges—both large and small–with data streaming.

Ariel first started at Confluent as an account executive on the emerging markets team. Find out what he’s learned on his journey to joining the digital-native team before coming full circle and being promoted to regional director of both teams he’d once joined.

What’s the best part about interacting with customers in your experience?

The connections we make with our customers are on a level not seen at most technology companies. To understand what I mean, you have to understand the role that this company places in the data ecosystem. We are more than a technology company—Confluent is a business partner that walks side by side with our customers.

When our solutions engineers are making recommendations about how to leverage Apache Kafka and what data streaming use cases to explore first, it’s not about just making a sale. What we’re trying to do is fundamentally transform the way these businesses treat their data. Real-time data streams unlock a whole new world of business benefits and capabilities, so I really see it as my role and my team’s responsibility to go out everyday and help customers solve complex, mission-critical business problems with data streaming.

In turn, that helps us develop relationships with champions that trust us within our customers’ companies. Those relationships not only ensure we drive value within their teams and departments, they also help us identify other opportunities to leverage data streaming and stream processing across their organization. 

How have you grown or changed since joining Confluent?

When I started at Confluent, I was an account executive and didn’t know where I’d be within just three short years. As I’ve transitioned from account executive and to regional account director, I’ve learned so much from every team and every customer I’ve interacted with.

Not only have I grown in my professional capabilities, but Confluent has also helped me uncover a passion to move into leadership. Seeing the caliber of leaders at Confluent and the impact they can make on early professionals has driven my desire to do the same and help lead the next generation of top performers. 

The biggest challenge in any role is to get your bearings in the first few months. It’s the common analogy of drinking out of a firehose. And that’s an experience that’s repeated with each promotion. Coupled with imposter syndrome, this learning phase can be difficult to persevere through, but however tough the challenge, I’ve always been able to lean on my peers and mentors for help and guidance. 

What's unique about Confluent's company culture? What’s one question you would tell people to ask about the culture during their interview?

Confluent’s culture is specifically unique in the sales space due to how much support you get from your direct peers and your mentors. Whether it’s reaching out in Slack for helping finding a case study to share with a prospect, or getting input from someone who has industry expertise you lack, the sales team acts like a big network of collaborators rather than just colleagues.

Most folks remember their first day here, you walk in knowing nothing about data streaming, nothing about Kafka. Your google searches only get you so far, and you feel a bit lost like at any new role. However, you quickly hop on the new hire training, meet your team, meet the solutions engineers who will be your expert partners during customer engagements. Soon, you realize that your peers are always happy to jump in and help develop new folks and are cheering for you to succeed! It’s a great feeling to know that everyone is rowing in the same direction.

What motivates you to excel in your role and how does Confluent support your ambitions? And how does Confluent encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion in your experience?

My biggest motivation to excel is the clear upward trajectory I’ve seen among my peers. When you put in the work and effort to become better on the sales team, you see results in your career and in your capabilities to take on the next challenge you’re given. 

In my experience, executive and functional leaders at Confluent offer tremendous guidance, and opportunity to be successful and reward employees who make an impact. Having these resources available to me and my team has really shown me the importance of giving everyone the tools they need to succeed, no matter what their starting point at the company or their prior experience and education. 

As a first-generation immigrant, I feel that Confluent’s core pillars and leadership principles ensure a diverse and equitable workplace for all backgrounds to learn together, respect others, and succeed as one team.  

  • Zion Samuel is a writer on the Brand Marketing team at Confluent. Prior to Confluent, Zion has spent several years writing for organizations in various technology and healthcare sectors.

  • Mekhala Roy is a senior writer on the Brand Marketing team at Confluent. Prior to Confluent, Mekhala has worked in the cybersecurity industry—and also spent several years working as a tech journalist.

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