Navan's regional director of enterprise sales, Jess Roman, is a true global citizen. Originally from France, she grew up in West Africa and moved to Canada for college. She’s lived in many places and was drawn to the company’s mission of fueling in-person connections. Today, she’s responsible for scaling the enterprise sales team.
“Part of where I developed emotional intelligence was growing up with people from different backgrounds. Togo had a big ex-pat community, I had friends from all over the world (Nigeria, India, China, Germany, U.S.) with different beliefs, customs, and ways of operating. Growing up with people from every walk of life helped me become adaptable. It’s definitely something that has allowed me to be a chameleon in business,” explained Jess.
Prior to Navan, Jess worked at martech company Meltwater for eight years, where she was first tasked with expanding the company into French-speaking Canada.
“I like to call it entrepreneurship with a red carpet because it was my opportunity to start a market and segment from scratch. I had to work with product because we didn't have a product in French, worked with legal because we didn't have a contract in French, and obviously had to hire French speakers and train them. It was a great experience to have my hands in building that entire market,” said Jess.
Meltwater’s francophone customer base grew from 0 to 400 in 18 months, and the business needed someone who spoke both languages to run Canada. Jess became the area director for Canada and was responsible for running sales, customer success, and expansion. She was in charge of that market's full $38M ARR renewal base.
“I became a good SaaS generalist during those 3 years, but ultimately I didn't love the martech space, and I wanted to challenge myself to sell a product that’s mission-critical to a business,” said Jess. “I loved that Navan is a product that touches every employee in the business. There's something special about selling a product that does that; it’s something so personal for people.”
Strong Conviction Around Travel
Jess decided to join Navan as the regional director of enterprise sales and was excited by the entrepreneurial nature of the role.
“Enterprise is still a new segment for us. We have a great customer base, but we’re still in the early innings of breaking into this segment. But more importantly, it's as complex as it gets. When you're selling to a huge company with thousands of employees globally, it doesn’t get more complex than switching T&E solutions. I love that challenge.”
Jess was also excited about the buyer.
“The CFO is such an intelligent buyer, and it's so refreshing to work with finance leaders who are very objective and data-driven. The best salespeople can always tie our solution to the impact it has on the business,” she said.
Jess was driven by the prospect of selling a product that influences everything from company culture to revenue. She joined Navan during the pandemic because she strongly believed that travel would come back with a vengeance. That prediction has proved accurate: Navan data show that business trip bookings have increased nearly 6x year-over-year this fall.
She talks to customers every day who highlight how important travel is to revenue growth and for bringing hybrid teams together—even those that didn’t previously travel for work are now experiencing an uptick.
Integral Part of a Collaborative Culture
Jess knew how important culture was to her before joining Navan and shared how reality exceeded even her highest hopes.
“We do a phenomenal job at collaborating cross-functionally. When people say it takes a village, it’s especially true for any big enterprise deal. At TA, everyone will get involved if they can help, and there's a very inspiring customer-first mindset,” she said.
Jess is also part of the Women in Sales & CS ERG, which she’s found to be a supportive, uplifting community for women and men who want to understand the nuanced challenges that their female peers face. She’s also found that great women leaders at every level of the organization take it upon themselves to mentor and lift up other women.
Hiring for Scale
She is actively hiring individual contributors in enterprise sales.
“I look for people who can embrace the healthy, rapid pace here and keep pushing the team,” she said. “I also look for people who can take ownership and autonomy over navigating some of these processes. I'd love to keep bringing in brain power to challenge the status quo and think strategically about how we do business in enterprise.”
“At the end of the day, we're disrupting a legacy space, so I'm a fan of hiring people who have been in those shoes, where they’ve been the smaller player, the underdog that’s challenging a big incumbent brand. That mindset is so important. There are all the regular things salespeople need to do, but in terms of personality and intangibles, it's important to find people with that challenger mindset in enterprise.”
Jess’s favorite city for business travel is New York, but she is keen to return to Kenya when it comes to leisure travel. She’s found she does her best thinking on the plane, so she’ll keep Wi-Fi off for the first hour or two to write down her infamous “plane thoughts.”
Jess is actively hiring in San Francisco and Austin, and Navan is hiring globally across all business segments. See available roles at Navan today.