Leaders in Sales: Building For The Future

How do you inspire the next generation of leaders to face the agility of hypergrowth and what does it mean for you? Leaders in Sales from LoopMe, Qoala, Datasite and Warung Pintar weigh in.

The world as we know it has changed since the pandemic threw us into a global lockdown in early 2020. While the agility of hypergrowth companies was put to the test, Johan Permadi, Head of Accounts at Warung Pintar, reminds leaders that this is nothing new: "Changes always happen. Either you follow up on the changes or get kicked out by the game." 

"In a hypergrowth organisation, the workload and pressure on every individual to deliver, especially in the sales organisation, is tremendous," Akash Sharma, Head of Direct to Consumer at Qoala, adds. These moments have thrust leaders like Bernard Fung, Head of Sales at LoopMe, to lay the foundations and “scale with purpose”  as his team faces mounting sales targets. 

As individual contributors rise into leaders, they find themselves redefining their meaning of success. Desmond Chua, Head of Sales at Datasite, shares: "It used to be me going up there taking those accolades. I used to be happy then. But it's different now when I see my guys going up there taking those accolades. It actually doubles or triples my joy and excitement."

In this edition of Middle Matters, we had the pleasure of speaking with four hypergrowth leaders in sales. Join us as they share how they’re building and nurturing a culture that will stand the test of time.

Laying the Right Foundations

What do you need to consider when you’re laying the building blocks for your organisation? Bernard asked himself the same question.

"So if you've identified like a new stream of revenue that would significantly profit the business, be it a new market or a new solution - think about what exactly you need for that to succeed," Bernard advises. "Would that be through hiring someone in a new market or hiring someone with specific skills, background, or insights your current team doesn't have?" 

The most extensive team doesn't always yield better results. Johan adds that the pieces that bring these skills together are the right mindset: "I look for open-minded people [that] are eager to make change." 

Inspiring Ownership

Having qualities that match the culture you want to build creates fertile ground to inspire ownership in direct reports; not just to tick boxes and achieve their tasks, but how they look at the organisation as a whole. Bernard shares that to do this, he advises his team to act as if they own the business: "If they own the business, they would kind of have that sense to do it properly and wisely." 

As they begin to own their decisions, Johan reminds leaders that it's essential for them to be own their failures as well: "It's not important to me if you go wrong because people are designed to be wrong. How do you make it right? Let's discuss it." 

"Because for me, the most important thing is if we are learning from what we did wrong."

Nurturing Direct Reports into Peers  

"I always believe that I want to create another set of leaders who will work with me," Akash says. 

What that means to him is creating opportunities for his team to be capable enough to step up and take ownership of what he's currently doing - either by distributing work or taking ownership of their new responsibilities. 

“This comes with ownership because they know what they're driving and what they want to deliver every day,” he explains. “Now they have their own growth targets at the company. They have said ‘I want to be here by the end of my tenure at Qoala and I will do it’, so this is something which I’m excited to build for my team.” 

"What I see now is they are driving the culture of their own teams."

Passing the Baton 

Where does that leave you in the picture? Desmond shares that while the joys of achieving individual accolades weren't new to him, he wasn't prepared for how ecstatic he would be when his team recently felt that success for themselves. 

"I was jumping up and down. I was actually going crazy. People thought I was high. People thought I was probably taking something, but no - it was just so exhilarating to see them being successful," Desmond gleamed. 

It was a long road to recover from the market setback of the pandemic, but diving into their strength and character gave him the conviction to believe that they have what it takes. 

"I find myself getting very excited, seeing my reps, my teammates, going up there, taking that award, being an elite performer - it's what drives me every day." 

Reflection Questions 

“After experiencing multiple roles here at Datasite, I think I'm actually particularly interested in people's success, which is helping them to uncover their strengths [because] I’ve gained a lot from just looking at my people” - Desmond Chua 

The definition of success in hypergrowth evolves for both an organisation and its people. Being able to identify when it’s necessary to adapt and build for the future is part of every leader's journey.

Johan, Akash, Bernard and Desmond have shown that laying the foundations for growth and cultivating their teams’ strengths are key ingredients towards building a legacy that’s sustainable and will stand the test of time.  

  • In what ways can you build on your experience to prepare for your next role?
  • When was the last time you checked in on your direct report's personal goals and motivations? Are they on the right track? 
  • Are there any areas of the work where your team members are having a challenging time? What questions can you ask them in your next meeting that’ll help them come up with their own solutions?


Desmond Chua

Head of Sales, APAC

Bernard Fung

Head of Sales, North APAC

Akash Sharma

Head - Sales and Marketing (Malaysia)

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