employee stories

Career tips from a sales pioneer


WORK180Nov 25, 2019

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Yleana Leal has been with Brown-Forman for three years, joining them as Sales Director in Mexico and recently moving to London to be the Sales Strategy Director UK & IRL.

Always a Saleswoman

Yleana has been in sales her whole life. She started selling stickers at school at only six years old, learning from her grandfather who was also a sales person.

Her career has seen her work in sales across Mexico, the USA, South America and now the UK.

She returned to Mexico three years ago and joined Brown-Forman as the first woman to lead the sales organization in Mexico, bringing her lifetime of skills and international experience to the role.

Now in London, Yleana is supporting the transition of Brown-Forman UK into an Own Distribution Company, leading the sales team which will increase threefold to ultimately grow the business, create customer strategies and work towards becoming a preferred supplier for customers.

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Being Part of the Change

We asked Yleana what the most satisfying part of her career has been so far and she mentioned two projects, both of which involved helping implement large-scale change across Brown-Forman.

First, the sales structure evolution we implemented at Brown-Forman Mexico. We knew we didn't have the right structure, capabilities or incentives for the team, so we did a major restructure that was very successful. Brown-Forman Mexico became one of the fastest growing markets in the world. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to impact people and help them grow both in the company and personally.

Second, this new challenge in London to co-create a new organization, lead and develop a great, new sales team in Brown-Forman’s second largest market during this important time for the BF-UK business.

Getting Guidance

Yleana told us that throughout her career mentors have played a key role in helping her develop her strengths and working on her areas of development.

For someone looking for a coach or mentor, Yleana suggests starting with someone you admire who has qualities you would like to learn and replicate;

You need someone who will tell you the truth; the things you’re doing well and the things you're not.

Getting a bird’s eye view from someone impartial helps identify potential blind spots you may have and encourage you to think more strategically than the day-to-day where we can sometimes get stuck.

It's very valuable to have someone who can guide you and help you open your mind a bit.

A Great Place to Work

When asked what she thinks makes Brown-Forman a great place to work, she told us;

It helps you be the best version of yourself, allows you to be passionate about what you do, pushes your boundaries, promotes a healthy balance between work and personal life…and the people and the brands are amazing.

Brown-Forman has a culture of challenge, support and trust, which Yleana has seen play out many times in her three years with the company. It also offers international opportunities that help you step outside your comfort zone & stretch yourself. “it is fantastic to work for a company that supports you through the learning, trust you will do a good job and ask for help when you need it”.

Brown-Forman also does a lot around Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). There are regular trainings to reduce bias and educate teams around D&I as well as ERGs (Employee resource groups) such as GROW (Growing Remarkable & Outstanding Women) and YP (Young Professionals) where Yleana has been actively involved.

Of the women in the executive leadership team, Yleana tells us;

Seeing women with such senior positions proves Brown-Forman walks the walk, it makes me confident that I can also be successful here.

Joining Brown-Forman is the best work decision I've made. This company has allowed me to thrive personally and professionally. Brown-Forman continuously works to get the best out of people, understands the importance of people, and promotes, motivates and engages teams and individuals.

Watch this video to hear more from Yleana.

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About the author

WORK180

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