One Leadership Tactic Business Development Managers Should Rely On

Built In San Francisco caught up with the director of global sales development at Coursera to learn why she leans on prior experiences to lead.
Written by Brendan Meyer
August 10, 2021Updated: August 10, 2021

Coaches who were once players understand the pressures and physical taxes of an athlete. Editors who were once reporters know the pain points and challenges of a writer. The same is true for business development managers who were once sales development representatives.

Just ask Katherine Andruha, the director of global sales development at Coursera.

“As a leader, your past experience is the foundation that guides your team,” Andruha said. “It helps if you’ve lived the life of an SDR.”

That means having a great understanding of how successful reps handle persistent outreach, how to listen for pain points, developing an emotional intelligence to help support your team and more.

Andruha has accrued a well of knowledge in how to lead. That’s why Built In San Francisco caught up with her to learn more about how she measures success, what skills she’s developed to thrive in her role and what she’s most proud of in her career to date.


Katherine Andruha
Director, Global Sales Development

What are your overall goals? How do you measure success in your role?

At Coursera, the sales development team is at the forefront of our relationships with future customers.

Our goal is to generate a strong pipeline for account executives, so we speak to more prospects than anyone else. We help people solve strategic challenges by having empathy for their pain points. After learning about their needs, we show prospects how our platform can help their organization fast-track digital transformation and skills development at scale. Our team measures success by tracking how the pipeline generates new Coursera customers. That’s the metric we’re collectively responsible for.

Personally, I also measure success in other ways. As a leader of the global sales development team, I need to ensure that my team has the right tools and processes to make an impact. When I see our team members over-achieve quota, that defines success. When I see an SDR break into a large target account after persistent outreach, that defines success. When I see we’ve “closed-won” an opportunity that started as a cold call, that defines success. I also want to see our team members grow. Another measure of success is seeing SDRs be promoted — even if it’s to other areas at Coursera.


What skills do you need to develop in order to be successful in your role?

As a leader, your past experience is the foundation that guides your team. It helps if you’ve lived the life of an SDR. You need to understand how successful reps handle persistent outreach, how to quickly present a value proposition during a cold call, how to listen for pain points, and how to best convey the value your company can bring to another organization. Sales development leaders also have to source the best software and enablement tools for their team. We’re very interested in leverage at Coursera — the right tech helps everyone do more with less effort. 

Most importantly, a leader needs to be aware of their team, so you’ll need to develop emotional intelligence. Listening to your SDRs is crucial to the team’s success. SDRs have frontline feedback that can promote business and product innovation. They are also in a high-turnover role within a high-pressure environment where metrics are key. And let’s face it, SDRs get hung up on and ignored on a daily basis.

Sales development is also highly cross-functional, so you’ll have to develop productive relationships internally with sales operations, marketing and product teams.

Listening to your SDRs is crucial to the team’s success.’’


What are your career goals, and what are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’m most proud when I think about the sales development professionals I’ve worked with and mentored. Some have advanced into management roles, others are successful account executives, and some found new passions and are now yoga instructors. Seeing people change and grow is my favorite part of the job. That’s what brought me to Coursera; everyone here values learning and development.

Not surprisingly, my personal goals are along those lines. Coursera has a great employee benefit that covers the cost of tuition for degrees on our platform. I was recently accepted into the online MBA program on Coursera offered by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I’m excited to put every lesson learned into growing my team worldwide, driving operational success at scale, and mentoring new colleagues as they learn, change and grow.

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