You could perhaps be forgiven for thinking ancient literature and technology are not natural bedfellows. Well, SmartRecruiters sales-whiz and ancient cultures expert, Alkestis ‘Al’ Spinou is a walking contradiction of that idea.
Alkestis, who joined SmartRecruiters in 2017, is currently Head of Sales Development for DACH – that’s Germany, Austria and Switzerland to the un-acronym-savvy out there – and works with various customers from different national and business cultures. This means, as a sales person, it’s imperative she gets to know her clients closely, making sure she is finely attuned to their requirements and delivering the best solution possible.
With Alkestis taking so much time and effort to get to know others, it only seems fair we take the time to return the favor and get to know her too with her very own SmartRecruiters interview.
So, where are you from originally?
Greece. I grew up in Athens, but my parents are from two islands towards Italy: Zakynthos and Corfu.
How does Athens compare to Berlin for you?
I think Athens needs some years to become as multicultural as Berlin. I love the fact that I got to experience different cultures here.
How would you describe your job at SmartRecruiters?
Well, I create awareness around the issue of candidate experience. The opportunity to offer someone the best interview process and make them passionate about a position and a company before they are even hired. I also try to handle each company individually: see their problems, go through them and find a solution.
In terms of candidate experience, what do you find is the most important thing candidates mention a lot?
The fact that it is quick, modern and speaks to millenials. I’ve been through that myself, of course, because we use what we sell. Candidates especially like our one-click-application: no logging in, no filling in forms, no buzzkills.
I was going to ask you what is the easiest thing to sell about SmartRecruiters. Is this it, or do you find recruiters like another aspect?
For companies it is mostly the collaboration within the teams. It includes hiring managers in the process and allows them to work together with recruiters.
A perusal of your LinkedIn shows you studied Ancient Cultures and Languages. I always think history is a good grounding for any career, but how specifically does it help you with sales?
I studied papyrology and epigraphy – which is basically deciphering ancient scripts – and although it might not seem immediately applicable to sales, there are a lot of transferable skills. Firstly, it helps to develop strong research skills which you can apply, well, practically everywhere. Not to brag, but I am a very good researcher! Also it’s very important in academia to develop excellent communication skills, and be able to pass your message across: to someone with no experience in the subject all the way up to a professor who has been in the field for twenty years. This comes in handy when talking with different companies, all of which have divergent needs and people with different backgrounds representing them.
So, if you had to give someone the top three pieces of advice to becoming a great sales person, what would you say?
First, you have to personalize your approach to each potential customer. Second, you have to develop what we call in Germany ‘Seelenruhe’ which can be translated as inner peace, or peace of soul. You need to trust that things are going to work out. Lastly, do your research. There is nothing worse in sales than not knowing who you are talking with and what problems they might be trying to tackle.
To find out more about how SmartRecruiters personalizes solutions for its users, read our in-depth customer case studies.
Ok. So, how would you describe yourself outside of your work?
That’s hard. I love languages. I love museums. I love to travel. I love going to the movies. And on my day-to-day life I enjoy going out with friends, having a nice meal and, above all, playing board games. I’m that kind of person.
Oh really? What’s your favorite board game?
Right now, it’s 7 Wonders Duel. This version is obviously only for two players. Of course, with board games it’s always the more the merrier. But with Duel, I cannot stop playing. I’m addicted.
What kind of board games do you prefer? Do you like the American action-oriented ones, or the indepth German ones where you have to build a rail network or something?
I like both depending on time. I think for a casual game, something in between would be awesome.
Something that has a good level of difficulty but doesn’t take 3 hours to explain?
It seems like board games are really becoming more popular now and have kind of shaken off their geeky reputation.
I have been into board games from a young age. It didn’t help through high school, but who cares. Board games are cool.
You mentioned films as well. I always think films are a good indicator of the person. So what would you say is your favorite film?
It’s really difficult… One film that comes to mind, because I watched it three or four times, is As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson. I also enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I cried through La vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful), a classic comedy-drama set during the war.
You like quite sad films then?
What I figured out about myself is this: if I were to pick a favorite day-to-day genre it would be sci-fi. But the film that I will definitely watch again is a feel-good-in-the-end type film. Not just romantic and pink and clouds all over but, one which shows signs of hope. Or just reminds you to be happy and grateful.
You mentioned music earlier? Are you someone who listens to music while working?
Yes. I don’t have a go-to. I sometimes listen to Greek radio. It’s got some really positive vibes, in my opinion. I have two or three stations back in Greece I listen to, so genre-wise it can be a little bit random.
So you can listen in Greek and work in English and German at the same time?
Yeah, it doesn’t make sense I know! Well, this job requires some serious multi-tasking, and the fact that I have the radio on and working on something else is really helpful.
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